One more honor for Hentges

Former Helias football coach Ray Hentges (left) accepts his plaque from Jerald Andrews on Sunday after being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

Former Helias football coach Ray Hentges (left) accepts his plaque from Jerald Andrews on Sunday after being inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Ray Hentges thought his time in the spotlight had passed.

But there was one more honor for the much-honored former Helias football and golf coach. It was a call from the Hall.

“It’s humbling,” Hentges said Sunday prior to his induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. “Words kind of fall short right now, but I’m very proud to be a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.”

“I thought I was done with everything 13 years ago,” he added. “This is the icing on the cake.”

Hentges led the Crusaders to a pair of state football titles. In his 33 years as head coach, he led Helias to 251 victories to go along with those crowns.

“I guarantee you, without a hard-working group of players and coaches, without the support of parents, my family and the community, this would not have been possible,” Hentges said.

“You don’t get that in the big cities, even in some smaller cities. I don’t think without that support, any of this would have been possible.”

The last of the 251 victories came in the 1998 state title game, a 37-12 win against Ozark.

Hentges said the Crusaders were primed to win that game.

“I told them, ‘You win this one today, everybody else is going to be comparing themselves to you,’” Hentges said. “I don’t know where I came up with that. All I know is, the players almost knocked me down to get out on the field.

“To play as well as we did against Ozark, to finish out a career and a season like that, it was very humbling.”

The win also meant Hentges would end his career with 99 losses, one short of the century mark.

“I believe it was ordained,” Hentges said. “We had some great, hard-working athletes and some great coaches.”

Helias’ first title came against Joplin Parkwood in 1984. In a bit of karma, both of Helias’ state title teams finished with 12-2 records.

“We didn’t have the size up front, but we had Ted LePage at quarterback and Craig Lammers at running back, to go along with some other great athletes,” Hentges said. “We just worked hard and got the job done.”

Hentges was always convinced going to a game that Helias was going to come out a winner.

“It didn’t matter who we were playing, from Hickman to C.B.C. to whomever,” he said. “We respected everybody, but I always thought we had a chance to win. It was just an attitude we had.”

Hentges also led three Helias golf teams to state crowns, including coaching John Daly and Connor McHenry to individual state titles for the Crusaders.

Hentges said the biggest thing he took away from his time as a coach is friends from his former players.

“Most of them still call me ‘coach,’” he said. “That’s a title not a lot of people don’t have and I appreciate that.”

Now, they can call Hentges a Hall of Famer.

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