PHS mascot: Phillips Blackhawks

Phillips High School
Alumni Association
P.O. Box 1710, Borger TX 79008

PHS mascot: Phillips Blackhawks


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Walker never had a losing year


Web-posted Tuesday, August 24, 1999


Harold "Chesty" Walker was known for a long time as "the winningest coach in Texas".
And, based on his great record at Phillips High school during an 18-year span from 1939-56, it would be hard to imagine any coach with a much better mark.
During those seasons, which produced 18 district champions and one state title, Walker's Blackhawks were 172-23-8. Three times during those 18 seasons, Phillips went undefeated. The worst season during that span was his first at Phillips - in 1939 when the Blackhawks were 5-4-1.
In the 1950s, before Walker left to become an assistant coach at the University of Washington, his teams were 67-7-6 (1950-56), including a 15-0 mark in '54 when they captured the school's only state football championship.
Walker's Phillips teams played in 28 state playoff games, and posted a record of 23-5 in those.
After that four-loss season in '39, Phillips never lost more than two games in the next 17 years. In 13 of those seasons, the Blackhawks lost no more than one game.
During one stretch, Phillips recorded 30 consecutive victories. The Blackhawks won 11 in a row in 1940, 10 straight in 1941 and nine in a row in 1942, before a 7-7 tie against Hereford in a district game snapped the streak.
Then during the 1954-55 seasons, Phillips teams won 22 straight games, before a 20-20 deadlock with Dumas ended it.
Walker's list of state champions might have been more. The state championship wasn't decided in Phillips' classification (A) until 1948.
Walker, who died in 1968 at the age of 63, was born in 1904 at Lindale. He was an all-around athlete at Memphis High, and played collegiately at Simmons University - now Hardin-Simmons - in Abilene.
He began his coaching career at Memphis in 1932. He left after five seasons to become an assistant at Vernon in 1937, where he stayed for two years. Then he went to Phillips, and the rest, as they say, is history.
His overall high school coaching record was in incredible 207-34-8. While Phillips won 13 district titles, and the one state championship, the Blackhawks also won six regional titles in nine tries, when that was the farthest they could advance.
After going 5-4-1 in his first year at Phillips in '39, Walker's teams didn't lose again until 1942. The Blackhawks went 11-0 and 10-0 in 1940 and '41, respectively, before ending the '42 campaign 9-1.
In Walker's final five years at Phillips (1952-56), his teams were 10-1, 10-1, 15-0, 10-1-1 and 8-1-1 for an amazing 53-4-2.
He was known to many local sportswriters as a pessimist, before a season began. Often, he would tell writers "we probably won't win a game."
In reality, things were much different. His teams rarely lost.
Stinnett High quarterback Larry Dawson, the outstanding player of the '50s, remembers Walker, although he didn't even play for him.
"You couldn't help but know coach Walker back then," Dawson remembered. "Phillips and Stinnett weren't that far apart, nor was Borger. Those three towns had some great teams, and some great players in the 1950s.
"Chesty Walker certainly was one of the greatest coaches this area ever saw. He was one of the best coaches anywhere.
"Our coach at Stinnett, Don Seymour, and his predecessor Cozel Foster, were disciples of Chesty Walker. They had played for him.
"So, it wasn't that unusual to see coach Walker come around some at Stinnett in those years," Dawson added. "He kept in close touch with his former players that were coaching.
"The thing I remember most about him was his ability to get the most out of his players. He was a stickler for fundamentals. His teams blocked and tackled like you're supposed to.
"He just knew a lot about the game. He was a real student of the game. His teams were sound in every aspect."
One of the Blackhawks' most disappointing losses during Walker's tenure came in 1952, to Floydada (also unbeaten) in bi-district.
The unbeaten Blackhawks led 7-0 at halftime, on a snow-covered field at Amarillo Stadium, before 3,000 fans who braved 28-degree temperatures.
However, in the second half, three Floydada backs returned wearing tennis shoes. It proved to be a huge advantage, and the Whirlwinds scored twice, while holding Phillips without another point, en route to a 13-7 triumph.
According to reports of the game in the Globe-News, Walker gave Floydada all of the credit for winning.
"They came out in the second half and outplayed us," he told the paper. "The fact they switched to tennis shoes in the second half was a big difference."
In '54, the Blackhawks beat Killeen 21-13 for the school's only state football championship before 6,000 at Wichita Falls on Christmas Day. It capped a perfect season.
In that game, running back Don Meek carried 25 times for 205 yards, and scored all three TDs, on runs of 37, 3 and 9 yards. He scored more than 230 points that season, and gained more than 2,000 yards on the ground.
A week earlier, in the semifinals, the Blackhawks rolled to a 26-6 victory over Terrell before 6,000 at Vernon. That victory represented Phillips' farthest advance ever.
The year before, in 1953, the Blackhawks opened the season by losing to Childress 25-6.
They didn't lose again until the quarterfinals when they were beaten by Ballinger 20-7. They did tie Olton 20-20 in the bi-district playoffs, but advanced on penetrations.
The '54 state championship team was followed by a 10-1-1 mark in 1955. The Blackhawks had one of their best teams that season, posting seven shutouts, and five times scored 60 or more points.
They crushed Olton 52-7 in the bi-district game, but were shut out by Stamford 13-0 the following week.
Walker's final season at Phillips produced a 8-1-1 mark. The Blackhawks won the first six games, before being tied by Littlefield 13-13 in district play. Two weeks later, they were beaten 7-0 by Levelland, costing them a playoff berth.
Walker was not only a great coach, he helped produce great coaches. There were 24 former Phillips players, who were coached by Walker, that went on to the coaching ranks themselves.
They included the likes of Seymour, Joe Means (Phillips), L.G. (Burr) Henderson (Artesia, N.M.), Cozel Foster, Don Williams (Plainview), Don Smith (Tahoka), Ralph Smith (Texas A&M University), Buddy Gray (Galveston) and Harry Smith (Arizona).
Walker spent nearly 10 years as an assistant at Washington, before joining the Dallas Cowboys as a personnel scout in 1966. He was inducted into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame in January of 1968, and died in July of that same year.
His legacy as a coach in the Panhandle was a lasting one.


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