David Claybourn Sports Views

David Claybourn Sports Views

  Jim Hess was a winner.

  Hess, who died at age 84 on Oct. 2 in San Angelo, achieved a rare double as a head football coach by leading the Rockwall Yellowjackets to a Class 2A state championship in 1963 and then Angelo State to an NAIA national championship in 1978.

  “Coach Hess, he was demanding greatness out of you,” said Mark Stokely, a running back on that 1978 national championship team. “When I played I think we lost six games in four years. We went 19-0 before we lost our first game.”

  Stokely was a quarterback in Rockwall on a district championship team under James Cameron, a Commerce native who previously was a head coach at Angelo State. Cameron hired Hess as the Rams’ defensive coordinator before Hess was promoted to head coach at Angelo State and led the Rams to a 65-23-3 record from 1974-1981, including a 14-0 record in 1978.

  The Rams also went 9-3 in 1979, reaching the NAIA semifinals and 8-2-1 in 1980 when they reached the NAIA quarterfinals.

  Hess went on to coach at Stephen F. Austin as it went through a transition from the Lone Star Conference to the Gulf Star and then to the Southland. The Lumberjacks went 47-30-2 while he was there including a 10-3 season in 1988, reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA I-AA playoffs.

  Hess moved on to coach seven seasons at New Mexico State. The Aggies had lost 17 straight games before Hess got there but he led them to a 6-5 record in 1992 for their first winning season in 14 years.

  Hess grew up in Farmersville where he played football for the Farmers and then at Paris Junior College and Southeastern Oklahoma.

  Hess became a scout for the Dallas Cowboys and along with current Saints head coach Sean Payton is credited with discovering Tony Romo at Eastern Illinois University. Romo, of course, quarterbacked the Cowboys for 14 seasons and now is an analyst for CBS Sports broadcasts of NFL games, working alongside play by play guy Jim Nantz.

  Hess also was also an analyst on Angelo State football broadcasts.

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  The 3-1 Dallas Cowboys sure are looking good so far this season. Dak Prescott is showing he’s recovered from ankle and shoulder injuries and is completing 75 percent of his passes for 1,066 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

  Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard are averaging 5.3 yards and 6.8 yards per carry at the running back positions. Eliott ran for 143 yards in the Cowboys’ 38-26 victory last week against a Carolina defense that was ranked No. 1 in the NFL against the rush.

  The Cowboys already have three receivers with more than 20 catches: Amari Cooper (22-258, 3 TDs), CeeDee Lamb (20-264, 1 TD) and Dalton Schultz (20-201, 3 TDs).

  Offensive coodinator Kellen Moore is doing a great job of getting the ball to the right guy during the games.

  New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has sparked new life into the Cowboys’ defense and super cornerback Trevon Diggs has already intercepted five passes.

  If the Cowboys keep playing at this level they could go far. But it’s a long season. We’ll see.

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  I was glad to see former Greenville Lion Carandal Hale get 13 carries with the football during Texas A&M University-Commerce’s 72-6 romp last week over the University of Fort Lauderdale. Hale made the most of his opportunity, rushing for a game-high 122 yards and two touchdowns.

  Hale showed what he’s capable of his senior season with the Greenville Lions in 2015 when ran for 2,082 yards and 22 touchdowns on 229 carries in 10 games. He’s the only Greenville Lion to ever average more than 200 yards rushing per game for a whole season.

  David Claybourn is sports editor of the Herald-Banner.

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