Bruce Jones Finally Gets His Due


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From 07-27-2016 edition of The Gatesville Messenger – no writer credited
‘Pro’ to finally get his due
Turnersville coaching legend chosen for hall of fame
Many thought the final chapter had been written 50 years ago. Not so.
While the stories remain constant and the interest keen, there certainly will come a time when it will only be shared off the pages of a book. But, until then, there still lives a strong thread among the people who shared the final year of the existence of Turnersville High School.
Now, another chapter in that final year will be added with an exclamation point next July in Wichita Falls.
The 1966 football team at Turnersville High school was its last. But what a team it was and what a year it celebrated with a coach who is finally getting his due.
The Buffaloes finished 11-0-1 and shared the regional six-man championship--the highest plateau in high school football playoffs at that time.
And the coach of that team, James Bruce “Pro” Jones, will take place in the Texas Six Man
Football Coaches Hall of Fame during ceremonies next year in Wichita Falls.
Jones was approved for induction at this year’s coaches’ school this month and will be formally inducted next year.
His selection was the culmination of a two-year effort by members of that 1966 team--Lonnie Flippen of Marfa and former Jonesboro football coaching legend Larry Pruitt of Gatesville.
Pruitt himself is already a member of the Six Man Coaches Football Hall of Fame.
James Baize, former Gatesville schools superintendent and also a member of that Turnersville team, credits the selection of Jones to the efforts of Flippen. “He did all the work,” he noted.
Jones, who was fondly referred to as “Pro,” apparently in reference to his professorial demeanor and character, coached the Turnersville Buffaloes from 1950 through that final season of 1966.
Jones compiled an overall record of 67-52, leading the Buffaloes to three district runner-up titles, three district championships, two bi-district titles and the one and final regional championship.
Ironically--or perhaps fittingly-- Jones’s induction will coincide with the 50-year anniversary of that regional championship and the high school’s final year in existence.
1966 marked the year when the state decided that, because of dwindling enrollment figures, it was time to shutter the rural Coryell County School. It was a bitter pill for the Buffalo faithful.
Then-Gatesville Messenger co-owner and sports writer John Frank Post likened the state’s closing of the school and Jones’s final season thusly: “It’s like Marshall Dillon having his horse shot out from under him.”
But the football team took the community on the ride of its life one last time.
After the completion of the 1966 school year, Turnersville was closed and its students, including a number of that championship team, were farmed out to several different area schools.
Among those schools was Jonesboro, which had served for years as a bitter rival to the Buffaloes-- an irony that was not lost on most folks involved.
The Buffaloes beat Jonesboro that final time, 42-14.
Jones was also the superintendent at Turnersville at the time the school was closed.
The school’s elementary and junior high continued to operate for a few years after the closing
of the high school.
The school eventually was absorbed by the Jonesboro and Gatesville districts, according to
Flippen and Jones went on to coach for a couple of seasons at near-by Evant.
He was well-known in the Gatesville/Coryell County area where he also farmed and ranched
near Purmela where he grew up.
He was a regular at the sales barn every Saturday, Flippen recalled.
Members of that one-of-a-kind team in 1966 were seniors Norris Fleming, Nelson Starr and Baize, along with underclassmen Flippen, Pruitt, Robert Jeffcoat, Mo Daniels, Sonny Gorman,
Flan Nichols, Gary Williams, Albert Pancake, Ronnie Gaskamp and Charlie Gilmore.
The assistant coach on that squad was Danny Mayberry.
While the 1966 team’s brush with perfection did end with a shared state (this should be regional) championship, it was not the only district championship for Jones.
In good-natured arguing between members of each team, the 1956 team, also coached by Jones, compiled a 10-1 record and secured the district title.
The 1966 team reeled off 11 straight wins en route to the District 11-B title.
They then disposed of Milano in the bi-district game, 58-52 after the original District 12-B
champion Normangee was forced to forfeit their title due to using an ineligible player.
Then, the last and final game, the regional match-up with the 11-0 Tolar Rattlers brought
both teams to the brink of perfection. But, it was not to be for either.
Turnersville had to score their final touchdown in the last minute of the game, and could
have claimed the title, but miscued on the extra point.