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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Roscoe in Years Gone By: Remembering Tonto Coleman

A. M. "Tonto" Coleman, SEC Commissioner, 1965-1972. 
If you ask someone today about Tonto Coleman, you’re likely to get a blank stare, but there was a time when just about everyone in Roscoe could tell you who he was. He’s still the only former Plowboy in the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame, and in his day he was well known not only in Texas, but also throughout the South. Even President Lyndon Johnson greeted him by name when he went to the White House with a delegation of coaches.

Although he was good at everything he did, Tonto was never a big star at football or, later on, as a football coach. But he impressed everyone with his intelligence, ability, character, and sense of humor, and he was successful at everything he tried, whether as a player for Roscoe or Abilene Christian, a high school coach at Baird or San Angelo, or head track and football coach at ACU (then ACC). In later years, he moved on to become assistant coach at the University of Florida and Georgia Tech, and eventually Commissioner of the SEC, the Southeastern Athletic Conference.

Arthur M. “Tonto” Coleman was born in Alabama on July 7, 1907, and when he was twelve, moved with his family to Wastella where, as he tells it, life was pretty hard. In a 1966 Sports Illustrated article entitled “Next Speaker Will Be Tonto Coleman,” he told its writer that the first thing he did in the morning was go out to the road to “see if anything had been run over during the night that would put some meat on the table.”

He went to Roscoe High School, where he played all varsity sports, and then to Abilene Christian, lettering in three sports there. He graduated from Roscoe High in 1924 and from ACC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 1928. He got his first head coaching job at Baird in 1929, moved on to San Angelo where he was head coach from 1931-39, and then returned to Abilene Christian in 1940, where he was the head track coach and assistant football coach until 1942. He then became head football coach from 1942-49 (with the exception of the WWII years, when he served in the Army Air Force). His overall head coaching record at ACC was 28-15-2.

In 1950, Baylor coach Bob Woodruff became the head coach at the University of Florida and persuaded Tonto to join him there. Then in 1952, Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd hired him away from Florida to be his defensive coordinator and coach of the freshman team. He was also a tenured full professor there. He remained at Georgia Tech until 1965, where he was also the assistant athletic director before becoming the Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. He held that position until he retired in 1972 and moved back to Abilene, where he died of a heart attack in 1973.

But those statistics don’t really tell of the impact he had on football and on people during his lifetime. He was credited with being the first coach to use the 5-4-2 defense when he coached ACC, a defense that Bud Wilkinson took to Oklahoma when he was head coach there. Darrell Royal claimed that Coleman’s recommendation was a big reason he got the head coaching job at the University of Texas, and in later years Coleman was also a popular after-dinner speaker because of his country sense of humor.

While he was at Georgia Tech, Governor Carl Sanders formally proclaimed a Tonto Coleman Day, and the Georgia legislature adopted a resolution honoring him. He is also a member of the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. The final part of his description there says this: “He was known as the goodwill ambassador of college sports. Although he was a big man with a rugged appearance and a sandpaper voice, he was known for his warm, gentle, and polite personality. When he left Georgia Tech, then President Edwin Harrison said to him: ‘Many people pass through Georgia Tech, but only a few leave lasting memories. You are among those few.’”

I will close with a funny story he told about a football game Roscoe played against Snyder back when he was in high school. It is repeated in the Sports Illustrated article mentioned above. Someone spoke of his innovative defense, and part of his response was this: “But, speaking of defense, it puts me in mind of the time I was playing at Roscoe and we had a game with Snyder. They stopped us cold on every play. No matter what we tried, those Snyder boys seemed to know just where the play was heading. We took a bad beating and after the game I asked one of the Snyder players how they did it. This boy said, ‘Oh, we just happened to notice that whoever came out of the huddle wearing the helmet usually carried the ball.’”

There are more of his stories in the article, which is available online in the Sports Illustrated archives. You can access it by clicking here.



Firemen fight the blaze inside the house at 206 Cypress Street last Thursday.
A house fire at the David Griffith residence at 206 Cypress Street on Thursday afternoon, April 21, killed two dogs and caused major damage to the interior of the house. According to Roscoe Fire Chief Gary Armstrong, the fire engulfed two rooms and caused heavy smoke damage to the rest of the house. Once notified, the Roscoe Fire Department responded with two engines at 4:30pm, and the Sweetwater Fire Department, which also sent two engines, also came over and helped out with mutual aid.

No one was at home at the time of the fire, and its cause has not yet been determined.



A large number of Roscoe Collegiate High School and Junior High students received honors at the Roscoe Academic Awards Banquet in the RCHS School Cafetorium yesterday evening.

Alejandra Solis was the first recipient of the Pursuit of Passion: Kimberely Nicole Norris Memorial Scholarship for her accomplishments and achievements while a student at Roscoe. The $1000 scholarship is given in memory of Kim Norris, a 2011 Roscoe High School graduate and former varsity cheerleader and basketball player, who passed away unexpectedly in 2015 while attending the University of Hawaii.

Here are the other awards and honors recognized at the banquet:

Associate’s Degrees from Western Texas College in Snyder:

            Rafael Aguayo                          Javier Leaños
            Ray Bohall                                 Lena Martinez
            Magali Casas                             Max Nemir
            Cassie Chavira                          Adrian Ortega
            Caty Chavira                              Anthony Ortegon
            Emily Gonzales                         Vincent Pantoja
            Isaiah Gonzales                         A. J. Renteria
            Teresa Herrera                          Brena Robinson
            Hannah Hobdy                          Alejandra Solis
            Victoria Jimenez                       Bernardo Villa
            Ashley Lara                                Luis Villa
            Kevin Lavalais                           Xiao, Lin

Special Award: Emily Gonzales (graduating with Associate’s Degree while completing High School in three years)

Early Graduate: Crystal Alvarez

MSA Welding Certificates from Texas State Technical College in Sweetwater:

            Christian Acuña                       Jetly Hobdy
            Isaias Aguilar                            Juan Huidobro
            Crystal Alvarez                          Roadey Mann
            Brayden Beal                             Jayce Phillips
            Johnathon Cuellar                   Saxton Stewart
            Justin Gardner

Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society:

            Johnathon Cuellar
            Braiden Moore
            Caleb Ward

NASA Texas High School Aerospace Scholars:

            Cassie Chavira
            Caty Chavira

SAT Honor Roll:

            Ray Bohall
            Isaiah Gonzales

ACT Honor Roll:

            Braiden Moore
            Caleb Ward

Engineering Project-Based Learning:

            Caleb Ward                               Braiden Moore
            Camden Boren                          Jose Chavira
            Austin Willman                        Braxton Parrott

High School Class Awards:

            Senior Best All-Around Boy: Max Nemir
            Senior Best All-Around Girl: Cassie Chavira
            Senior Outstanding Work Ethic Boy: Lin Xiao
            Senior Outstanding Work Ethic Girl: Teresa Herrera

            Junior Best All-Around Boy: Brayden Beal
            Junior Best All-Around Girl: Karina Cisneros
            Junior Outstanding Work Ethic Boy: Johnny Cuellar
            Junior Outstanding Work Ethic Girl: Shirley Sanchez

            Sophomore Best All-Around Boy: Camden Boren
            Sophomore Best All-Around Girl: Iris Gonzales
            Sophomore Outstanding Work Ethic Boy: Tait Fullwood, Parker Payne
            Sophomore Outstanding Work Ethic Girl: Thea Abeita

            Freshman Best All-Around Boy: Alfonso Islas
            Freshman Best All-Around Girl: Lynzie Atkison
            Freshman Outstanding Work Ethic Boy: Jose Ortega
            Freshman Outstanding Work Ethic Girl: Veronica Cuellar

Junior High School Class Awards:

            8th Grade Best All-Around Boy: Tristan Baker
            8th Grade Best All-Around Girl: Jaci Alexander, Jaleigh Morales
            8th Grade Outstanding Work Ethic Boy: Roman Garza
            8th Grade Outstanding Work Ethic Girl: Jaci Stewart
            8th Grade Project-Based Learning: Hunter Anglin, Junior Martinez, Jaleigh Morales, Kyleigh Spencer

            7th Grade Best All-Around Boy: Zeke Murphy
            7th Grade Best All-Around Girl; Hannah Ward
            7th Grade Outstanding Work Ethic Boy: Kaleb Bohall
            7th Grade Outstanding Work Ethic Girl: Riley Sheridan
            7th Grade Project-Based Learning: Elida Aguilar, Barrett Beal, Caleb Reed

            6th Grade Best All-Around Boy: Hayden Baker
            6th Grade Best All-Around Girl: Isabel Ortega
            6th Grade Outstanding Work Ethic Boy: Tyler Guelker
            6th Grade Outstanding Work Ethic Girl: Marcella Saenz

Not listed here are all the award winners honored for individual class subjects for grades 6-12.



This weekend the Lumberyard is hosting two up-and-coming young country singers, Josh Ward on Friday night and Kyle Park on Saturday.

Josh Ward and Kyle Park
Kyle Park writes and produces his own songs, which might loosely be termed a part of the current Texas Country genre. Born in Austin in 1985, he formed a band while a student at Texas State University in San Marcos. His first album, Big Time, was released in 2005, and since then he has produced five others, the most recent being Beggin’ for More, released in 2013. His single “The Night is Young” reached #1 on the Texas Country Charts in 2013. Three other singles, “Fit for the King,” “Long Distance Relationship,” and “Turn That Crown Upside Down,” were all Top Ten hits on the Texas Music Chart.

Josh Ward sings traditional country music, citing Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, George Jones, and George Strait as major influences. A native of Houston, his music career began in parking lots of his rodeo events and progressed to honky tonks in 2003. His single “Get Away” (2012) reached #18 on the Texas Regional Radio Chart, followed by “Rainout Hangout,” which made the Top 5, and then “Sent Me You,” which made #1. Since then, two others, “Promises” and “Hard Whiskey,” have reached #1 on Texas Regional Radio. His newest album, Holding Me Together, is now available.

For more information or reservations, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.

There was a nice article on Roscoe and the Lumberyard in last Thursday’s Abilene Reporter-News. You can read it by clicking here.



Yesterday's clouds in the northwest before the storm hit.
The second half of last week was cool with highs in the sixties and seventies, and we got some rain early Thursday morning with hail. Here in town it was only marble-sized and relatively soft, but it was larger—up to golf-ball sized—in some areas, large enough to put dents in vehicles. I had .76” precipitation in my rain gauge, while the official total for Roscoe was .71”. The weekend was warmer and sunny with highs in the lower eighties. Then on Monday and yesterday we were reminded that warmer days are coming as the highs rose to 89°F Monday and 88° yesterday.

Yesterday evening we got a bit of a surprise when storm clouds unexpectedly showed up from the southwest, and for a little while we had thunder, lightning, rain, and, once again, some more hail. The hail was small and soft, and the rainfall totaled an official .3" here in town, but the storm did cool off things considerably, dropping the temperature from 88° to 69° after the storm passed through. West of town, the amount was .5" to .6". I haven’t heard how much rain fell in other areas, but the storm looked heavier in the northwest, so I’m guessing people got more in the Wastella and Inadale areas. I also heard of quarter-sized hail southwest of Roscoe, but can’t confirm that.

Today’s high should be around 83° and tomorrow 87° with sunny skies and lows about 65° tomorrow. The weekend should be a little cooler with a projected high of 80° on Saturday and only 77° on Sunday. Lows will be in the fifties.

The next big chance of rain is next Monday night and Tuesday when the probability of precipitation will be 70% and temperatures will be decidedly cooler with highs of only around 70° for Monday and Tuesday.


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