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Friday, August 14, 1998

HSU and McMurry create Wilford Moore trophy for crosstown game

By AL PICKETT

Sports Editor

When cross-town rivals Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University meet in football this fall, the Cowboys and Indians will be playing for more that just pride.

In the spirit of "The Little Brown Jug" and the "Bayou Bucket," officials at the two Abilene universities have added their annual gridiron contest to the list of traditonal rivalries by creating the Wilford Moore Trophy.

"About six weeks ago, (McMurry sports information director) Trenten Hilburn came in my office, talking about a project to add spice to the rivalry," said John Neese, athletic director at HSU. "He suggested a bell or a trophy. We thought there wasn't a better person to name the trophy for than Wilford Moore."

Hilburn said there are more than 50 traditional college rivalries in NCAA Division I, II and III who play for traveling trophies, bells and cups.

The two schools, both affiliated of NCAA Division III and the American Southwest Conference, held a press conference Thursday to announce the creation of the traveling trophy in honor of Moore, who played football at HSU and coached football at McMurry.

Moore, 79, is the only person who is a member of both schools' halls of fame. He was a 1984 charter member of the McMurry University Hall of Honor and a 1996 inductee in to the Hardin-Simmons Hall of Fame.

"I owe a tremendous debt to both universities," Moore said. "Frank Kimbrough gave me the opportunity to go to college and play football at Hardin-Simmons, and Vernon Hilliard gave me the opportunity to coach at McMurry. My blood runs purple and gold and maroon and white. I have always been a great admirer of both institutions. I never ceased to be amazed at the type of teams that go on the field to represent the two schools without scholarships."

Moore was a three-year letterman for the Cowboys, playing for the 1940 HSU team which finished the season undefeated and untied. He also holds the best overall winning percentage as a coach at McMurry, compiling a 45-28-5 record in eight seasons as the Indians' head coach.

A native of Littlefield, Moore earned his physical education degree from Hardin-Simmons in 1941. He was an assistant coach at Abilene High in the fall of 1941, but joined the Army Air Corps on Dec. 9 following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

After returning from World War II, he served as an assistant in 1946 at McMurry and then became the head coach the next year, coaching at McMurry from 1947-55.

Moore later coached at Lubbock High, Port Neches-Groves and Cleburne before returning to Abilene in 1972 where he has lived ever since.

"This is a great thing because of Coach Moore," HSU head football coach Jimmie Keeling said. "When I was a young coach, he was a very successful coach that I looked up to. He was one of my heroes."

"The heritage of both institutions is to have coaches of high quality," McMurry head football coach Steve Keenum added. "There is fierce competition between the two, but both are bound by something greater. This trophy gives is a chance to renew what is right about college athletics because that's the way Coach Moore played and coached."

Moore said he was honored to have the trophy named for him.

"It is a thrill and a great honor," he said. "I think of all the boys I played with and who played for me at both schools. On their behalf, I thank you for using my name."

The Cowboys and Indians will meet for just the 15th time on a football field on Nov. 14 at HSU's Shelton Stadium. Hardin-Simmons leads the all-time series with 11 wins and three losses against McMurry.

The two cross-town rivals met only four times before HSU, which didn't play football from 1964-89, re-instituted its football program in 1990 and joined the same conference with McMurry.

Al Pickett can be reached at 676-6772 or picketta@abinews.com

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