Former Kansas City Chiefs standout wide receiver Eddie Kennison, former Missouri State All-American tackle and coach Rich Johanningmeier and former Carrollton High School coach Stan Kee can now call themselves Missouri Sports Hall of Famers.
The Hall inducted the trio during the NFL Kickoff Luncheon sponsored by Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company on Wednesday at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. More than 600 attended the event.
Additionally, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame recognized the second Elite 11, a group of former high school and college football standouts.
“We are proud to bring these football standouts into the Hall of Fame,” President and Executive Director Jerald Andrews said. “I’ve been overwhelmed about the response of Stan Kee going in. There were players from all over the state who came in for his induction. Then you look at Rich Johanningmeier, who had a great playing and coaching career, and the kind of response he has received has been impressive.”
A video tribute from former Chiefs quarterback Trent Green on Kennison also will be remembered, Andrews said.
“Trent Green not only talked about what he did on the field but how Kennison was a great teammate and a quality person who has contributed throughout the Kansas City community,” Andrews said. “We are honored to have him as a member of the Hall of Fame.”
The second annual Elite 11 featured: defensive lineman Brett Potts (Bolivar, Pittsburg State); quarterback Eric Czerniewski (Montgomery County, Central Missouri); lineman Rusty Shadel (Lebanon, Missouri State); running back Rex Sawyer (Ava, Missouri Valley College); linebacker Steve Forbis (Republic, Missouri Southern); defensive tackle Lorenzo Williams (Mizzou); punter/quarterback Chuck Blair (Camdenton, Central Missouri); kicker Jeremy Flores (Willard, Colorado); defensive back T.J. Onstott (Lamar, Missouri Southern); split end Steve Newbold (Aurora, Missouri State); and running back Justin Gerald (Hillcrest, Central Methodist).
Kennison, who emerged as one of the NFL’s most prolific receivers while with the Chiefs from 2001 to 2007, said it was a conversation with quarterback Trent Green that led to his Kansas City success.
Green phoned him over apparent remarks by Kennison that he wasn’t throwing the ball to Kennison enough, said the receiver, who emphasized he did not say such a thing.
“Trent stopped me in my tracks and he says, ‘I don’t care what goes on. I know what type of person you are just from the few days we spent together,’” Kennison said. “He says, ‘You’re my guy. I love you. I want to be part of you and your family, and we’re going to win football games together.
“From that point,” Kennison added, “I had a teammate who understood what faith, family and football teammates are about.”
When he retired, Kennison ranked No. 7 on the Chiefs’ all-time yards receiving list (5,230 yards) and No. 7 in Chiefs career receptions (321). He also had 17 100-yard receiving games in his Chiefs tenure, the fourth-most in franchise history when he retired.
Kennison’s 57.5 yards receiving per game also is fifth on the Chiefs’ all-time list and just ahead of Otis Taylor’s 56.6 yards per catch. Overall, Kennison was targeted 554 times and hauled in 321 catches, scoring 25 touchdowns.
Kennison’s arrival to the Chiefs in 2001 dovetailed with the Chiefs’ prolific offenses that would become standard under coach Dick Vermeil. Kennison averaged more than 961 yards receiving between 2002 and 2006, including a 1,086-yard season in 2004 followed by a 1,102-yard season. In his time in Kansas City, the Chiefs won the 2003 AFC West in finishing 13-3, won 10 more games in 2005 and also reached the 2006 playoffs.
Kennison thanked other NFL teams that gave him a chance – the St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos — before reaching Kansas City. Overall, he finished his NFL career with 8,345 yards receiving and 42 touchdowns.
Kennison also singled out his family in attendance.
Johanningmeier, a St. Louis native, was a Missouri State standout as a tackle (1960-1963) and coach (1976-1985), becoming an All-American lineman and later becoming the second-winningest coach in school history.
“As I look at the coaches I was fortunate to have at (Missouri State), they taught us what work was. They taught us what it took to be a good player and to reach that excellence,” Johanningmeier said. “As I look through on coaches, I was just fortunate to have a bunch of great assistant coaches. Their ideas, their efforts played a major, major role in the successes we had.”
Johanningmeier was a three-year starter for the Bears at both offensive and defensive tackle, gaining Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association all-conference recognition as a junior and senior. He was a first team All-American as a senior and received the Virgil Cheek Athletic Achievement Award when he graduated in 1964.
Playing for coach Orville Pottenger, Johanningmeier was a standout on the 9-0 team in 1963, when the Bears won the MIAA and the Mineral Water Bowl.
After graduation, he played professional football briefly before beginning a 10-year run as an assistant coach (American International, Vermont and Connecticut) and then returned to his alma mater. Johanningmeier was 58-44-5 in his 10 seasons at Missouri State, trailing only A.W. Briggs in all-time victories, and enjoyed seven winning seasons. Johanningmeier, who went on to work for the NCAA, is retired and a Bears season-ticket holder.
“We were very fortunate to have our share of very good football players. Nine or 10 of them had NFL opportunities. A number of them got All-American recognition. An unbelievable number made all-conference,” Johanningmeier said. “But putting all those things aside, most of them – if not all of them – graduated and went on to be successful in their endeavors.”
Kee received a standing ovation after his tearful speech, which concluded with the longtime Carrollton High School coach thanking his late wife, Debbie. She passed away in June 2014.
The successes of the Carrollton program were based on four Fs – faith, family, friends and football, Kee told the crowd.
“Because of that first F – faith – I know she has the best seat in the house,” Kee said.
Kee, who thanked his children, assistants, the Carrollton community and administrators, was 175-88-2 overall at three high schools. That included a 153-67-1 record in 22 seasons (1977 to 1998) at Carrollton High School in northern Missouri.
His Carrollton teams reached the state semifinals in 1987 and 1997 as part of six playoff berths. They also won four Missouri River Valley Conference championships (1978, 1987, 1991, 1997), four district championships (1987, 1991, 1997, 1998) and nine times were district runner-up.
Kee, a 1967 graduate of South Holt High School and a 1971 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University, previously coached at South Holt and Gallatin high schools.
“If you keep the three previously mentioned Fs in proper perspective – faith, family and friends – and surround those by three universal components of trust, commitment, love, you’ll have a successful program because you’ll have a successful life,” Kee said. “Always treat others the way you like to be treated.”
About each Elite 11 player:
Chuck Blair (Camdenton, Central Missouri): A first team All-State selection at Camdenton High School in 1977 as a punter and quarterback, Blair also was the first quarterback (as a sophomore in 1975) to play for the legendary Bob Shore, a Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee. He also quarterbacked Camdenton to its first playoff appearance in 1977. Blair went on to play at Central Missouri, where he holds several program records, including most punts in a game, season and career. Blair lettered four seasons for the Mules, also playing tight end his senior year, and was an all-conference selection in 1979, 1980 and 1981.
Eric Czerniewski (Montgomery County, Central Missouri): A graduate of Montgomery County High School, Czerniewski led the team to the 2005 Class 2 state championship. He finished his career as the state’s all-time leader in pass attempts (1,236), completions (775), yards (11,557) and touchdowns (140). At Central Missouri, he won the 2010 Harlon Hill, considered the Heisman Trophy in NCAA Division II. That year, he set D-II records with 5,207 yards passing and a nation-leading 46 TD passes. He threw for more than 12,000 yards in college and 107 career TDs. He holds virtually every passing record at Central Missouri.
Jeremy Flores (Willard, Colorado): Willard’s Jeremy Flores made national headlines by kicking a 63-yard field goal in a Nov. 5, 1997 game against Marshfield. He was Willard’s placekicker for four years, earning first team All-State placekicker as a senior and honorable mention all-area running back. He also was first team all-district and all-conference at both punter and kicker as a junior and senior, and was a second team all-conference as a sophomore. In two seasons at Colorado, Flores made 20 of 26 field goals, or 18 of 24 his senior year when the Buffaloes finished 10-3 overall, won the Big 12 Conference championship on his game-winning kick against Texas and finished ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 after winning the Fiesta Bowl. Flores was a 2001 finalist for the Lou Groza Award, the top honor for placekickers, and the All-Big 12 placekicker his senior year. At Colorado, Flores broke school records for most field goals in a season, most field goals in a row and most PATs in a game. Flores also played in the Division I All-Star game his senior year. He previously was a juco All-American as a placekicker at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College.
Steve Forbis (Republic, Missouri Southern): Forbis became one of Republic High School’s best football players, helping Republic to its first two undefeated regular seasons in 1980 and 1981. He was named a first team All-State linebacker in 1981. He later was hired as coach of Springfield’s Central High School, for nine seasons. Forbis also lettered in football at Missouri Southern State University, setting the school record for most tackles in a season (148) and ranks third in career tackles with 365. He was also named NAIA first team All-District in addition to all-conference and academic All-American. He is a member of Republic High School football’s coaching staff and is the head track and field coach at Republic.
Justin Gerald (Hillcrest, Central Methodist): Gerald was a standout at Hillcrest High School in the early 2000s, earning Class 4 All-State in 2003 and All-City MVP award from the Springfield Quarterback Club in the same season as a running back/defensive back – despite playing the second half of the season with an injured knee. His play helped the Hornets to only their second playoff berth in school history. Gerald went on to become a two-time NAIA All-American, both as a return specialist, at Central Methodist University. In Fayette, he was a dual-threat running back in rushing for a career 1,160 yards and hauling in 28 passes for 366 yards in his junior season.
Steve Newbold (Aurora, Missouri State): Newbold emerged as a standout football player at Aurora High School and was honorable mention All-State his junior season and first team All-State his senior year as a split end. He was all-conference twice. Newbold also was a split-end for Missouri State, where he was a four-year letterman and three-year starter (1977 to 1980). Newbold was the Bears’ leader in receptions, receiving yardage and touchdown catches each season. Newbold caught 34 passes for 586 yards and five TDs as a sophomore, 35 receptions for 773 yards and six TDs as a junior. He also hauled in 30 passes for 611 yards and six TDs as a senior. Nearly two decades after his career, his season receiving yardage totals all rank among the Bears’ top 10 campaigns in that category. He ranks fifth in career receptions with 101 and still owns school career records for receiving yardage (1,990) and career touchdown receptions (18).
T.J. Onstott (Lamar, Missouri Southern): Onstott was a standout at running back and defensive back for Lamar in the late 1990s, graduating in the year 2001. His single-season 21 touchdowns and 1,533 yards rushing set school records at the time, but have since been broken in Lamar’s recent Class 2 state championship run. He was a three-time All-Southwest Conference selection and named to the Joplin Globe’s All-Area team three consecutive years, plus a repeat selection on the Southwest Missouri Football Coaches Association squad. At Missouri Southern, he was a two-time All-MIAA and made career 176 tackles, including 68 as a sophomore, 55 as a junior and 38 in 2005, a year after sitting out because of a medical redshirt (ACL injury).
Brett Potts (Bolivar/Pittsburg State): A standout defensive lineman at Bolivar High School, Potts was All-State for the Liberators in 1984, when he was also named to the News-Leader’s All-Ozarks team. That season also marked his fourth time as an All-Central Ozark Conference selection. He played college ball at Pittsburg State (Kan.), where he was a two-year captain and lettered from 1986 to 1989. He was a second-team all-conference in 1987 and a first team all-conference in 1988 and 1989, plus was an academic All-American in his final two seasons there.
Rex Sawyer (Ava, Missouri Valley College): Sawyer was a standout running back at Ava High School, where he was All-South Central Association as a junior and senior before graduating in 1977. He was a 1982 graduate of Missouri Valley College, where he was a first team NAIA All-American as a senior, and all-conference and all-district as a junior and senior as a running back. He also was a three-year letterman. Sawyer, who also was a four-year baseball letterman for the Vikings, was selected as Mr. Viking by the V-Club. The title of Mr. Viking embodies the true spirit of what a student-athlete should represent in upholding high standards as an athlete on the field and as a student in the classroom.
Rusty Shadel (Lebanon, Missouri State): Shadel was a standout at Lebanon High School from 1968 to 1970 before going on to Missouri State University. Shadel was All-State and all-conference three years at Lebanon, which recently retired his No. 64 jersey. Shadel also lettered three years at Missouri State (1972-1974) and was a team captain. He moved from offense to defense before his junior season at and earned all-conference honorable mention in his final two seasons. He tallied 18 total tackles as a junior and 52 as a senior. The 1974 media guide called him the “Biggest man on the Bruin football squad” at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds.
Lorenzo Williams (Mizzou): Williams, now the coach at Springfield’s Central High School, was a standout for coach Gary Pinkel’s Mizzou teams from 2004 to 2007 as the Tigers reached a No. 1 national ranking and played for the Big 12 Conference championship. A stalwart defensive lineman, Williams was voted team captain in 2007 and was a 2007 first team All-Big 12 selection after earning 2006 honorable mention All-Big 12. Williams’ 19 career sacks are tied with Shane Ray for fifth-most in Mizzou history. Williams, a standout athlete at Midwest City High School (Okla.), finished with 142 total tackles and went on to play on practice squads of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers as well as the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.