Hopkins, Wilkins make it big after time in Cameron

Just sitting here on Saturday afternoon, trying not to get interested in all the Super Bowl hype, but looking forward to the NFL Network coverage of Cameron Yoe, that was filmed the week of the Malakoff game.  I just found out that besides the 10 minute coverage (1:30-1:40) on Sunday, that they were running the entire story today at 4:30 on the NFL Network. 

Also I am writing my column this week about a couple of assistant coaches, who started their careers briefly here with the Yoemen.  They are Jerry Hopkins (1957-1958) and John Wilkins (1965-1966).  Both wound up as two of the winningest head coaches in Texas.

Hopkins joined Coach Leo Jackson’s staff in the late fifties for a very short stay.  He headed back to West Texas and took over as Sonora’s head coach in 1960.  He would have 11 fabulous years in his first stay there, reaching the state finals four times and winning state three times.  He would get the Seguin job (71-75), reaching the second round three times before taking over at Midland for two years (8-11-1) and then returning to Sonora for 12 more years before retiring with a (229-92-8) record.

His first two years at Sonora were playoff teams before falling to (17-11-2) the next three years.  From 1965 until 1970, Sonora was always on top.  1965 was (11-1) followed by (14-0) in 1966.  He was (9-2) the next year before starting a three-year stretch reaching the finals each year, going (38-6-1) and notching his second and third state trophies. 

He was lured to Seguin in 1971.  He would lead the Matadors to the second round the next three years (26-10).  He would drop off to a (11-8-1) record the next two years before going to Midland High for the next two years. 

In those two years, the Bulldogs would be (8-11-1).  After those two short years, he would return to his roots in Sonora.  Twelve years produced 11 winning seasons (77-40-3) with one losing year (3-7), but only one playoff team (9-2 in 1980). 

George Kirk (63-65) brought in John Wilkins for one year in 1965 (11-1 regional finalist) as end coach.  He also was the 8th grade football coach.  I saw a picture of that team and recognized some of the players.  There were Marvin Young, Brent Laywell, Johnny Mann, Willie White, Dennis Crouch, John Hairston, Tim Titsworth, Douglas Marburger, and Ronnie Richardson. 

Back to Coach Wilkins.  He left Cameron the next year, and eight years later wound up as head coach of the prestigious Odessa Permian Panthers.  He would lead the Panthers for 13 years (148-16-6) with two state champions (1980 and 1984) and two state runner ups (1975 and 1985).  Wilkins’ teams at Permian were the basis for the Friday Night Lights TV series and also the well known movie of the same name. 

Cameron has always been known as a stepping stone school, where you can come and start a great career.  I will try to bring back more in later weeks.  Go Yoe!