Record luncheon crowd watches Hall of Fame welcome football inductees

1-Football Luncheon 2018 inductees

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame ushered in its latest inductees Wednesday during the annual Football Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company, an event that drew a crowd of nearly 1,000 to the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center. It was the largest crowd ever to attend an MSHOF luncheon since the Hall of Fame began hosting them 23 years ago.

The newest members are: Kansas City Chiefs return man Dante Hall, longtime athletic trainer David Kendall, veteran high school football coach Kurt Thompson, National Football League lineman Jason Whittle of Camdenton High School and Missouri State University, the 1978 Mount Vernon High School State Championship Team and the Monett High School Football Program.

“We are proud to welcome these individuals as well as Mount Vernon’s only football state championship team and the entire Monett football program,” said Jerald Andrews, Executive Director and President of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. “We’re also thankful that so many businesses and individuals in the community turned out with a great show of support.”

Additionally, a group of former high school and college standouts were recognized with Elite 11 Awards for their positive contributions in the sport. They are: Dr. Travis Brawner (Branson High School/Missouri State University), Kegan Coleman (Lee’s Summit North High School/University of Central Missouri), Dr. Kenny Downing (Aurora High School/University of Missouri/Canadian Football League), Dr. Preston Estes (Marionville High School/Missouri State), Derek Jensen (Lebanon High School/Missouri State), Roy Kaderly (Marshfield High School/Mizzou/Missouri State), David McNeel (Greenfield High School/Mizzou/Canadian Football League), Dr. Kevin Patterson (Carl Junction High School/Southwest Baptist University), the Roweton Brothers of Bolivar – Lance Roweton (Bolivar High School/SBU/William Jewell College) and Brock Roweton (Bolivar High School, Evangel University), Skylar Smith (Kickapoo High School/Missouri State) and Terry Wemer (Joplin Parkwood High School/Oklahoma State University).

Dante Hall – Kansas City Chiefs

Known as “The Human Joystick” for a remarkable ability to weave through the field, Hall was a punt and kick returner for the Chiefs from 2000 to 2006 and then the St. Louis Rams for two more seasons. Hall’s 12,397 return yards are sixth-best in NFL history, which explains his name on two post-career awards: the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s as a kick and punt returner and the 10th greatest return specialist in NFL history on the NFL Network’s “Top 10 Return Aces.” A fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M, Hall earned two Pro Bowl selections (2002, 2003) and helped the Chiefs to three playoff berths (2003, 2005, 2006). He remains the Chiefs’ all-time leader in kickoff returns (360), kickoff return yardage (8,644), kickoff return touchdowns (6) and is third in kick return average (24.0). Additionally, he is the Chiefs’ all-time leader in punts returned for touchdowns (5) and ranks second and third, respectively, in punt returns (188) and punt return yards (1,930) in team history. Hall in a career 162 catches for 1,747 yards and nine TDs.

David Kendall – Kansas City Chiefs Head Athletic Trainer

Kendall enjoyed a terrific career with the Kansas City Chiefs training staff as he worked for the National Football League organization from 1977 to 2005. He was the Assistant Athletic Trainer from 1977 to 1984 and then was the Head Athletic Trainer from 1985 to 2005. Under his leadership, his Chiefs department was named the Athletic Training Staff of the Year in 1991 by the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society. Kendall also worked in the NFL Playoffs in 1986, 1990 through 1995 and again in 1997 and 2003. Additionally, he was the Athletic Trainer of the 1994 Pro Bowl as well for the 1987 and 2003 NFL Hall of Fame games. Kendall earned the Fain-Cain Memorial Award as the Outstanding NFL Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2007 from the NFL Physician’s Society. He has been part of the National Athletic Trainers Association since 1987 and the Missouri Athletic Trainers Association since 1985. From 2009 to 2016, he was a volunteer for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

Kurt Thompson – High School Football Coach at Webb City/Kickapoo/Republic

Thompson was 179-87 in 24 seasons as a head coach for three Missouri high schools. He was 73-12 in seven seasons at Webb City High School from 1990-1996, winning back-to-back state championships there in 1992 and 1993. He also coached at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, compiling an 82-37 record over two stints (1998 to 2006 & 2015, 2016). That included a 20-3 record in his final two seasons, with a Class 5 semifinal berth in 2000 and a Class 6 state semifinal berth in 2015. Thompson, who also coached six seasons at Republic High School (24-38), is a 1988 graduate of Pittsburg State University. At Pitt State, the Iola, Kan., native was a 1986 NAIA Academic All-American and, in 1987, was a team captain and an NAIA All-American linebacker. Thompson, who previously coached at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas before going to Kickapoo in 1998, was inducted into the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

Jason Whittle – Camdenton High School & Missouri State University
& NFL’s New York Giants/Minnesota Vikings/Buffalo Bills

A former Camdenton High School standout and All-State defensive lineman in 1991 and 1992 – and who played for Missouri State University – Whittle carved out an 11-season career (1998-2008) in the National Football League as a guard, center and long-snapper. He was originally signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 1998 but made the cut just before the season-opener, then made a tremendous impact. He helped the Giants win two NFC East titles (2000, 2005) and the NFC Championship in 2000, when they reached the Super Bowl. At Missouri State, he was a four-year letterman and was voted the Arthur Briggs Award as the top scholar athlete in 1995. Whittle also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Minnesota Vikings and finished his career with two seasons for the Buffalo Bills. He lives in Osage Beach.

Mount Vernon High School 1978 State Championship Football Team

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mount Vernon High School’s state championship football season – the program’s only state title. Coached by the late Pat Wozniak, the Mountaineers finished 13-0 that season, which concluded with a 37-21 victory against MICDS – St. Louis Country Day School in the Class 2 state championship game. Quarterback Jeff Walster, running back Steve Sater, end Rick Kane, center Don Jennings, defensive lineman Michele McGehee and linebacker Steve Owens earned All-State honors that fall, while the team’s only assistants were Dan Breeden and Doug Doss. The team’s 37 points were the fourth-most ever scored by a winning team in the state championship game since the state began hosting state finals in 1968.


Monett High School Football Program

The Monett High School Football Program has been among the most successful in state history, particularly since coach Burl Fowler’s arrival in 1967. Fowler guided the Cubs to the first state championship in 1971, as the team finished 12-0. The Cubs have won two more since. After Fowler’s passing in 1974, coach Benny Lawson took over and led Monett to the 1977 state championship and an 11-2 finish. The third came in 2016 as the Derrek Uhl-coached Cubs won it all in Class 3, finishing 14-1. The program has won a combined 25 conference and district championships since 1971. The conference titles were captured in 1971, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2008. The district championships played out in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016.



Dr. Travis Brawner — Branson High School & Missouri State University

Brawner was the 1994 MVP of the Central Ozark Conference on both offense (fullback) and defense (linebacker) as a senior. He also earned First Team All-COC as a running back, linebacker and kicker, with his time as a senior fullback producing more than 2,100 yards rushing on a 10-1 team that was ranked No. 1 in Class 3 for eight consecutive weeks. He walked on at the University of Arkansas but transferred to Missouri State, where he was voted a 1997 All-American kicker in the Football Championship Subdivision (Formerly I-AA). He earned three All-Missouri Valley Conference selections as well as three letters (1997, 1998, 1999) and was invited to the Blue Gray All-Star Game. He later played for the Arkansas Twisters, an Arena Football League 2 team. These days, he is a physician at Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat in Branson.

Kegan Coleman – Lee’s Summit North High School & University of Central Missouri

Coleman was an All-State running back for Lee’s Summit North High School in 1999 and arguably the best running back in the history of the University of Central Missouri. At UCM, Coleman is the all-time leader in rushing yards (3,995), yards per carry (5.8), rushing TDs (58), 100-yard games (18), total TDs (64), points scored (384), and all-purpose yards (5,939). He also owns the single season records for scoring (144), touchdowns (24), yards per carry (6.4), and rushing TDs (22). A two-time All-American (First Team in 2003), he also earned All-Region twice, and All-MIAA three times, including First Team All-MIAA in 2002 and 2003. An injury in his senior season most likely kept him from a third All-American honor. He lives in Kansas City.

Dr. Kenny Downing – Aurora High School & University of Missouri & CFL’s Ottawa/British Columbia

Downing was All-State in 1971 as a defensive specialist for Aurora High School, two years after helping the team win a state championship, and then earned three letters (1973, 1974, 1975) for the University of Missouri. In his time in Columbia, he also earned All-Big Eight Conference in 1975, and was named the All-Big Eight Defensive Player of the Week for Sept. 26, 1975 for his play against Wisconsin. Downing was far from done. He was later drafted by the New Orleans Saints and then traded to the Chicago Bears. He went on to play in the Canadian Football League for the Ottawa Rough Riders and British Columbia Lions. Downing is now the owner of Westwood Chiropractic in Lenexa, Kansas.

Dr. Preston Estes – Marionville High School & Missouri State University

Estes was a First Team All-State linebacker on Marionville High School’s 1982 team, which was responsible for the only loss that season of eventual state champion Springfield Greenwood Academy. Estes then went on to Missouri State University, where he was an honorable mention Associated Press All-American in 1985 and 1987. He also was a two-time all-conference selection (1985, 1987) and lettered all four seasons there. Estes now works for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and lives in Nixa.

Derek Jensen – Lebanon High School & Missouri State University

Jensen earned All-State in 1993, the second time in three years the quarterback led the Lebanon Yellowjackets to the league championship. In those seasons, he passed for more than 2,200 yards and 24 touchdowns, also earning All-Ozarks. He went on to Missouri State, earning letters all four years. He was a team captain in 1998, a season when he completed 208 of 378 passes for 2,554 yards and 16 TDs, earned all-conference honors and was the SMS Player of the Year. A year later, he earned the Virgil Cheek Award. Jensen, who played in the inaugural season of the Springfield Rifles pro team, still ranks in the Bears’ top 10 in total offense, including No. 1 in total plays (1998, 463 yards) and No. 8 in career total yards (3,987). Lebanon High School has since retired his jersey No. 16, and he was inducted into the Lebanon Area Sports Hall of Fame. He now works for Life Benefits Consulting in Marshfield.

Roy Kaderly – Marshfield High School & University of Missouri & Missouri State University

Kaderly was an All-State offensive lineman in the fall of 2000 for Marshfield High School on a team that finished 7-5 for coach Jack Randolph, becoming the only Marshfield squad to reach the state quarterfinals. Kaderly also was a unanimous First Team All-Central Ozark Conference offensive and defensive lineman and First Team All-District. He earned First Team All-COC in 1999. Kaderly was then a walk on at Mizzou for one season before finishing his teaching degree at Missouri State. He is now in his 14th season as an assistant coach for the Marshfield Blue Jays’ varsity football team, as he coaches the offensive line and is the special teams coordinator. He also is the head coach of the school’s track and field programs.

David McNeel – Greenfield High School & University of Missouri
& Canadian Football League’s British Columbia Lions/Edmonton Eskimos

McNeel is a 1978 Greenfield High School graduate and two-time All-State selection, as a linebacker in 1976 and then as a linebacker and quarterback in 1977 on the school’s Class 1 state championship team. He also was on the 1975 state runner-up team. He played four seasons for the University of Missouri, including on four bowl teams, and earned letters in 1979, 1980 and 1981 — after being a walk-on his freshman season. He was the starting inside linebacker on the 1981 Tiger defense that yielded only 159 total points, ranking in the top 20 in scoring defense. In 1981, he was second on the team in total tackles, first in solo tackles, and second in tackles for loss on an 8-4 team that beat Southern Mississippi in the Tangerine Bowl, 19-17. McNeel tried out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1982 and reached the final round of cuts before the league went on strike. He then played parts of four seasons in the Canadian Football League, including on the 1983 British Columbia Lions’ team that played in the Grey Cup. McNeel, who finished his pro career with the Edmonton Eskimos, now lives in Pacific.

Dr. Kevin Patterson — Carl Junction High School & Southwest Baptist University

Patterson was an All-State defensive end in 1982 for Carl Junction High School and then played football at Southwest Baptist, joining the program when it was launched in 1983. Along the way, he was an NAIA All-American in 1986, when he also earned his third consecutive All-District 16 honor and was a team captain for the second straight year. At SBU, Patterson still holds the program’s sacks records in a career (32.5), single-season (15.5) and single-game (4.5) and his 15.5 sacks in 1986 are No. 2 all-time in the MIAA. He recently retired as Superintendent of Ozark Public Schools and is working for SBU as Chair of Graduate Education.


Roweton Brothers of Bolivar High School – Lance Roweton & Brock Roweton

A 1994 graduate, Lance Roweton earned All-State honors as a quarterback in 1992 and 1993, leading the Liberators to the 1992 Class 3 state championship game and the 1993 Final Four. He also was All-COC in football, basketball and baseball before playing two seasons each at SBU and William Jewell College, earning All-MIAA honors at quarterback at SBU and First Team All-Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) honors at William Jewell, where he also played one baseball season. Roweton started his coaching career at Ash Grove High School, where he was 23-10 in four seasons with a state semifinal berth in 2002. He then was 116-32 in 13 seasons as Bolivar’s head football coach, including 13 COC championships, a 65-game conference winning streak, five district titles (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013) and four quarterfinal berths (2004, 2008, 2009, 2013). He is now principal at Halfway High School. A 1997 graduate, Brock Roweton was First Team All-COC in football, basketball and baseball and earned All-District in football and baseball. He also played football and baseball at Evangel University, including two years as a starting quarterback. He earned All-HAAC honors as a QB in 1999, when he also was named Evangel’s team MVP. Brock also was a four-year starter for Evangel baseball, mostly batting third in the lineup. He is now in his 10th season as Willard High School’s head football coach after successful tenures at Rolla and Pierce City high schools. He was 19-2 in two seasons at Pierce City and won a Class 1 district title there in 2004. His Rolla teams were 22-19 over four seasons, with his 2006 team winning a district championship.

Skylar Smith – Kickapoo High School & Missouri State University

Smith was a three-year starter for Kickapoo and was a two-time All-State running back in 2004 and 2005, and for several years held the school career and single-season rushing records. As a senior, he rushed for 1,369 yards on 190 carries and scored 21 touchdowns. At Missouri State, Smith was second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2009 after earning honorable mention distinction in 2008. He finished his career with 258 tackles in 38 games with a pair of interceptions, 14 break-ups and two fumble recoveries. That followed a senior season in which his 82 total tackles were second-most on the team for a third consecutive year. He now works for KPM Wealth Advisors.

Terry Wemer – Joplin Parkwood High School & Oklahoma State University

Wemer was a four-year starter for Joplin Parkwood High School (and was the first freshman to earn a varsity letter) and also earned All-State in 1980, when he helped the team win a state championship by hauling in a touchdown pass in the title game. That was among his 19 touchdowns that season, including as a punt and kick returner. He went on to Oklahoma State University, where he lettered in 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1985. He played in the Independence Bowl, the Bluebonnet and back-to-back Gator Bowls. In Stillwater, he had 550 career yards receiving on 47 catches and a touchdown. Wemer now works for Joplin Saw & Supply.