Great coaches inspire their players. Two of the best, Gordon Wood and Sammy Baugh, molded Kenneth West into a hall of famer. The Texas High School Football Hall of Fame selected the longtime assistant coach as a member of its 2016 class.
“Coach (Gordon) Wood and Coach (Morris) Southall are in, but me, I never thought of it,” the 81-year-old told the Brownwood Bulletin. “In Texas, this is the highest honor you can get. It means the world to me.”
West made contact with Wood in 1951 as high school senior at Stamford. The Bulldogs went 9-1 that season but missed the playoffs due to a district loss to Anson.
Wood encouraged the West Texan to attend college and convinced Hardin-Simmons University to offer him a scholarship. During West’s senior year, Sammy Baugh took over as Cowboys head coach, and the legendary NFL quarterback made West a graduate assistant the following year.
“If it hadn’t been for those two guys, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here today,” he commented to the Bulletin.
In 1958, West reconnected with Wood as an assistant coach at Victoria. Following short stops at Brady and Coleman, he rejoined Wood’s staff at Brownwood in 1963.
Over the next eight years, the Lions won four state titles and took two more in 1978 and 1981. During his 22-year tenure, Brownwood captured 13 district titles and reached the playoffs 15 times.
West moved from coaching into school administration in 1985, but his gridiron legacy continues. His son, Glen West, has served as Brenham’s head coach for the past 19 years and directs the Texas High School Coaches Association as president.
Seeing his former players achieve success when they leave the game gives West his greatest satisfaction.
“I’ve got 65-year-old guys that come up and thank me for what did for them,” he told the Bulletin. “At the time I never really thought about it, I was just doing my job. But now I know that’s where the reward is.”