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Jayhawk Conference Press Release


HCC Sports Information
Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hairston,McClain, Esau, Latimore Enshrined Into Hall Of Fame

The HCC Quarterback Club Hall of Fame welcomed four new members on Saturday night between games of the Blue Dragon women’s and men’s doubleheader with Cloud County at the Sports Arena.
Blue Dragon basketball greats Roy “Pooh” Hairston and Leroy Esau, men’s basketball coach Steve McClain and football great Mo Latimore were inducted as the Hall’s 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th members. Only McClain wasn’t able to accept in person.
LEROY ESAU - Tourney Tradition Begins With Esau, 1949 Blue Dragons
 “Great moments come from great opportunity.”

That was a line that the late Herb Brooks used during his pregame talk before the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s Miracle On Ice game with the Soviet Union in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Some 31 years before Brooks said that to his team, the 1949 Hutchinson Junior College men’s basketball team had a great opportunity presented to it.

Freshman Leroy Esau and the Blue Dragons seized the mo­ment. And thus began a tradition like none other in junior college basketball.

The NJCAA’s second men’s national basket ball tournament came to Hutchinson’s Convention Hall in 1949 after a less-than-stellar inaugural run in Springfield, Mo. in 1948.

The Blue Dragons didn’t qualify for the tournament, but received a special invitation to participate. Led by Esau, the 1949 Blue Dragons went all the way to the national championship game.

“We didn’t have a great team,” Esau told The Hutchinson News about the 1949 Blue Dragons, who finished with a 13-9 overall record.

HJC opened the tournament with a 68-50 victory over Sayer, Okla. The Blue Dragons meet Jayhawk Conference champion Dodge City, a team HJC lost to twice in the regular season, in the quarterfinals. Esau scored 12 points, hitting several clutch free throws late for a 55-48 upset victory.

Esau was clutch again in the semifinals at the free-throw line when his two free throws tied the game after Hutch trailed Grant Tech by eight points with five minutes to play. Esau finished with 14 points and the Blue Dragons advanced to the finals with a 55-53 victory.

Esau had 16 points against Tyler Junior College in title game, but another upset bid fell two points short as Tyler won the national title, 66-64.

Esau scored 47 points in the tournament and set a tournament record that lasted for four years with eight free throws in the Tyler game. Esau was the only Blue Dragon and the only freshman on the 1949 All-Tournament Team.

In 2006, Esau was voted to the Blue Dragons’ 75th Anniversary team.

Esau’s sophomore team at HJC finished 14-6 and second in the Jayhawk Con­ference. Esau then went on to the University of Wyoming where he was part of the Cowboys’ 1952 team that went to the “Sweet 16” of the NCAA Tourna­ment

So what impact did Esau’s 1949 Blue Dragons have in Hutchinson?

The NJCAA Tournament has been in Hutchinson ever since. The Tournament moved to the Sports Arena in 1952. The Blue Dragons have competed in 16 national tournaments, winning the 1988 and 1994 national championships. That’s tradition.
MO LATIMORE - Latimore set gold standard for Blue Dragon O-Linemen
Before 1969, the Hutchinson Blue Dragon football program had seasons of suc­cess, but only one Jayhawk Conference championship was earned over a 20-year period.

Hall of Fame coach John Ma­tous brought in some of the most explosive talent HCC had seen in several years in 1968 and 1969.

A key piece of that tre­mendous recruiting class was an offensive lineman from Byron, Ga., named Marion “Mo” Latimore.

Latimore was a two-year starter for the Blue Dragons and helped pave the way for Hutchinson’s first Jayhawk Conference championship since 1963. The Blue Dragons went 10-0, their first undefeated season since 1947.

Latimore was the leader of one of the Blue Dragons’ best offensive lines in team history. He paved the way for 1,000-yard back Dave Wassenberg, quarterback Donnie Wilcox and All-American receivers Jack Morris and Lonnie Crittenden.

Led by Latimore, the 1969 Blue Dragons scored the fourth-most points to that point in team history (300 points), ran the table in the Jayhawk Conference - winning seven league games by an average of 27 points per game - and qualified for the program’s first bowl game in 20 years.

The Blue Dragons rolled past Nassau, N.Y. 32-7 in the 1969 Sterling Silver Bowl.

Latimore was named a 1969 first-team NJCAA-American.

After Hutchinson, Latimore transferred to Kansas State University where he became one of the top linemen in Wildcat history. Latimore earned third-team All-America honors and first team All-Big Eight accolades while also serving as team captain in 1971. He played in the 1971 Senior Bowl and North-South Bowl.

From Kansas State, he was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Jets and wound up playing four seasons in the CFL with Calgary, Saskatchewan and Hamilton.

Latimore began his coaching career at K-State in 1976 as a grad­uate assistant. After 10 years in various roles on the Kansas State staff, Latimore moved to Texas-El Paso in 1986, where he coached the defensive line for three seasons. He helped the Miners to the school’s first 10-win season in 1988, which cumulated in the school’s first bowl game in 21 years - the 1988 Independence Bowl. In 1989, Latimore moved to Missouri, where he coached until 1993. He has been on the Kansas State staff since then.

STEVE MCCLAIN - McClain brings championship touch to HCC hoops

Some coaches are strapped with the reputation that they can’t win The Big One.
Not Steve McClain.

Not only did he win a national championship as an assistant coach with the Hutchinson Blue Dragons in 1988, he went one better six years later by winning the 1994 championship as HCC’s head coach.

McClain served under Quarterback Club Hall of Fame member Dave Farrar as an assistant from 1986-92. He was promoted to head coach before the 1991-92 season. McClain put together a dazzling record of 91-16 in three seasons as the top Dragon.

McClain’s .857 winning percentage is still No. 1 on the HCC coaching charts. His 91 victories were seventh most in team history when he left to become a Division I assistant after the 1994 season.

The 1992 and 1993 Blue Dragons both reached the Region VI title game but fell short. McClain and the Blue Dragons finally broke through in 1994 with a 73-57 victory in the finals over Butler County.

HCC opened the 1994 NJCAA Tournament with a 99-83 victory over Bossier Parish and then defeated Chattahoochee Valley 81-67 in the quarterfinals. After defeat­ing Connors State 80-79 in a thrilling semifinal, McClain found himself locked up in a championship game matchup against coaching legend Gene Bess and Three Rivers Com­munity College.

The Blue Dragons (35-4) defeated Three Rivers 78-74. Roy “Pooh” Hair­ston, Ben Davis and Lucas Wagler were named to the All-Tournament team and Hairston was a first-team NJCAA All-American.

McClain’s HCC teams were among the highest scoring in program his­tory. The 1993 Blue Dragons still rank as the highest-scoring team in HCC history at 93.5 points per game. The 1994 team scored the most points in team history (3,506 points). All three of McClain’s Blue Dragon teams rank in the Top 5 in team history in scoring average and points scored.

Over McClain’s three years as head coach, 16 players moved onto Divi­sion I programs. Hairston was a two-time All-American and Davis was a second-team All-American in 1994.

McClain left HCC to take an assistant’s job at TCU. From there, he moved into the head coaching position at Wyoming, where he coached the Cowboys from 1998-2007. McClain led the Cowboy program through one of its most successful periods in school history, posting the fifth highest winning percentage in school history (57.7 percent) and achieving a 157-115 record, averaging 17 wins per season through his nine years.

After Wyoming, McClain spent three seasons at Colorado and moved onto the top assistant’s job at Indiana before the 2010-11 season.

ROY HAIRSTON: Nothing silly about this ‘Pooh,’ Hairston is Blue Dragon hoops royalty
Mention the name “Pooh” to a Blue Dragon basketball fan and the name Roy Hairston will likely come up.

“Pooh” Hairston earned that name recogni­tion during two spectacular seasons where the Blue Dragons won 64 games and program popularity was at an all-time high.

Playing from 1992-94, all Hairston did was become HCC men’s basketball’s only two-time NJCAA All-American, earn NJCAA Tournament Most Valuable Players honors after leading the Blue Dragons to the 1994 national championship and become the program’s all-time leading scorer.

Hairston’s career numbers are simply staggering.

He left HCC as the holder of seven career, three single-season and six freshman records, not to mention being listed in 36 career, single-season and freshmen Top 10 lists.

The Indianapolis native is one of only five players in Blue Dragon history to have at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career.

Hairston scored 1,687 points, some 226 points more than the second-place total. He has two of HCC’s five 800-point seasons in team history.

Hairston also holds career records for scoring aver­age (23.1) and made field goals (634).

During that magical year of 1994, Hairston scored a single-season record 880 points and averaged 22.6 points per game while shooting 56 percent from the field. He was named a first-team All-American - the program’s third in history - after earning second-team All-America honors as a freshman.

After graduating from HCC, Hairston went to Purdue University to play for Blue Dragon coaching great and Quarterback Club Hall of Fame member Gene Keady, where he was a third-team All-Big 10 selection.

Hairston went on to have a long and successful career outside the United States, playing professionally in Russia, Tur­key, Italy, Switzerland, the Philippines and Venezuela.

In 2006, Hairston was the top vote-getter on Hutchinson’s all-75th Anniversary team.

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Date of Last Update: Sunday February 24, 2013