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NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter Announces 2017 Major Award Winners
Freddie James, Pete Schenkel and Coaches of the Year headline area football leaders that will be honored at the Ninth Annual Awards Banquet on April 2.
Published: 3/22/2017 11:10:00 AM

IRVING, Texas (March 22, 2017) - The National Football Foundation (NFF) Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter announced today the 2017 major award winners who will be honored during the club's Ninth Annual Awards Banquet on Sunday, April 2, at 6 p.m. CT at the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria. Award-winning sportscaster Scott Murray will serve as the evening's emcee for the ninth consecutive year.

The 2017 major award winners include:

  • Steve Hatchell, president & CEO of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame – Distinguished Texan Award (previously announced)
  • Pete Schenkel, Dallas businessman and former State Fair of Texas Chairman – Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award (previously announced)
  • Freddie James, former head football coach at Dallas Carter High School – Legends Award
  • George Shoup, Big 12, Mountain West & Southland Conference official – Steve Storie Official of the Year
  • Matt Wixon, The Dallas Morning News sports writer and columnist – Media Person of the Year
  • Todd Peterman, DeSoto High School – 6A Coach of the Year
  • Randy Allen, Highland Park High School – 5A Coach of the Year
  • Jake Fieszel, Gunter High School – 3A Coach of the Year
  • Grayson Wells, Highland Park High School – Assistant Coach of the Year

The awardees will join the collegiate and high school scholar-athletes who will be announced tomorrow. A number of scholarships will be distributed to several of the high school scholar-athletes.

“All of our 2017 honorees have built tremendous careers geared toward making football in North Texas great,” said Gerald Brence, president of the NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Chapter and athletics director for the Plano Independent School District. “They have all enjoyed considerable success, and it is our pleasure to recognize each of their efforts.”

The event will showcase the great stories in North Texas that will inspire future student-athletes to excel in the classroom and become more involved in their communities. The event also provides a key platform for recognizing the contributions of the football leaders in the region who have placed North Texas football among the best in the nation, and this year's honorees have been selected for their outstanding accomplishments and lasting community impact.

The event has attracted a sellout crowd of 500-plus people each of the past eight years. For more information on 2017 tickets and/or banquet sponsorship opportunities, please contact club president Gerald Brence at 469-878-5370 or via email at Gerald.Brence@pisd.edu.

The NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas is one of 120 nationwide chapters of the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame. The NFF is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards presented by Fidelity Investments, the NFF High School Showcases, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.

2017 NFF Gridiron Club of Dallas Major Award Honoree Bios

Distinguished Texan Award – Steve Hatchell 
Steve Hatchell became president and CEO of The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame in January 2005, and he currently oversees a nationwide organization with 121 chapters in 47 states with more than 12,000 members and programs that annually reach more than 500,000 student-athletes at 5,000 high schools. During his tenure, the NFF has experienced remarkable growth, and his leadership played a critical role in the 2014 opening of the state-of-the-art $68.5 million College Football Hall of Fame in the heart of Atlanta. He spearheaded the launch of the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, which has helped raise millions of dollars for the NFF scholarship programs that currently distribute more than $1.3 million each year. He has assembled and engaged one of the most powerful non-profit boards in the country, including 28 corporate CEOs, eight athletics directors, four bowl executives and four conference commissioners. He has also cemented several key sponsorship deals with blue chip companies, including Fidelity Investments and Under Armour. A career sports administrator, Hatchell joined the NFF after serving as the commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (1999-2004), Big 12 Conference (1995-97), the Southwest Conference (1993-95) and as the executive director of the Orange Bowl (1987-93). He has served on several U.S. Olympic Committee boards, and he headed the organizing committee for two Super Bowls. He graduated from the University of Colorado. Click here for the full release on Hatchell being named the Distinguished Texan Award recipient.


Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award – Pete Schenkel
Pete Schenkel’s impact on football in North Texas can be felt every October at the State Fair of Texas. During his time as the chairman of the State Fair, he fought to keep the annual Texas-Oklahoma rivalry game at Cotton Bowl Stadium, where it has been played since 1929. In 2007, Schenkel worked to get voters to approve millions of dollars in renovations to the stadium, and was a key negotiator in persuading the Longhorns and Sooners to remain at the venue. Then in 2014, Schenkel again led negotiations for the city and the State Fair of Texas to complete a deal that will keep the game at the Cotton Bowl through 2025. A Dallas native, he worked his way up over three decades from a Schepps Dairy deliverer to an owner of the company in 1987. Along the way, Schenkel has served on some of the most influential boards that have helped shape Dallas and North Texas, and his exemplary civic service continues through the Pat and Pete Schenkel Charitable Trust. Click here for the full release on Schenkel being named the Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipient.

Legends Award – Freddie James
Freddie James served as the head football coach at Dallas Carter High School from 1982-95. After playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Billy Nicks at Prairie View A&M in the late 1950s, he worked in a steel plant and then as a physical therapist in Houston before becoming the head coach at Carter High School in 1982. In his first season as head coach, James guided Carter to the 5A state semifinals. Carter had an impressive run from 1988-91, winning a state title in 1988 and reaching the state semifinals again in 1990 and 1991. James retired in 1995 after leading Carter to a 123-22-3 record in 14 seasons and turning the program into a nationally recognized powerhouse. James was inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and he joined the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor in 2002. He was portrayed in the 2004 movie Friday Night Lights by actor Julius Tennon and then again in the 2015 movie Carter High by actor Charles S. Dutton.

Steve Storie Official of the Year – George Shoup
George Shoup began officiating football in 1988. He joined the Dallas Football Officials Association (DFOA) in 1996, and he has chaired the New Members Training classes for the DFOA since 1997. Shoup was the 1996 Jack Mears Award recipient and the 2003 Jerry Goldberg recipient of the DFOA. He has worked numerous high school playoff games all over Texas. Shoup began officiating college football in 1998 in both the American Southwest and the Lone Star Conferences before moving to the Southland Conference in 2004. Since 2007, he has officiated in the CFO West, which consists of the Big 12, Mountain West and Southland conferences. Shoup has worked numerous FCS Playoff games, and at the FBS level, he recently worked the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Outside of football, the University of North Texas alumnus owns the Shoup Benefit Group, which specializes in providing employee benefits for many well-known Dallas companies. 

Media Person of the Year – Matt Wixon
Matt Wixon joined The Dallas Morning News in 1999, serving as a sports writer and columnist with an emphasis on high school sports since 2003. He was the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ Sports Writer of the Year in 2012 and the Texas High School Coaches Association’s Sports Writer of the Year in 2013. The Associated Press Sports Editors named his work among the top 10 nationally in projects reporting in 2010, 2015 and 2016, and he was The Dallas Morning News' Community Journalist of the Year in 2016. He grew up in Glendale, Ariz., graduating magna cum laude from the University of Arizona in 1993 with a degree in Journalism. Wixon’s work includes previous stints as a sports editor and writer, covering everything from youth sports to college football and the NBA.

6A Coach of the Year – Todd Peterman, DeSoto
In just his second year as DeSoto High School’s head football coach, Todd Peterman guided the Eagles to a perfect 16-0 record and the 6A Division II Texas State Championship with a 38-29 win over Cibolo Steele. In recognition of the Eagles’ championship season, he earned multiple awards, including Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Coach of the Year. In his first year as head coach in 2015, Peterman led DeSoto to the second round of the playoffs. He previously served as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator from 2008-14, and he was a key figure in the team’s 74-18 record in seven seasons, including back-to-back 5A semifinals appearances in 2012 and 2013. Prior to DeSoto, he spent 15 seasons climbing the ranks at Denison, Tyler John Tyler, Terrell and Midland high schools. An Oklahoma native, Peterman played football at Southeastern Oklahoma State.

5A Coach of the Year – Randy Allen, Highland Park
The head coach at Highland Park for the past 18 years, Randy Allen ranks fourth all-time in Texas high school football coaching wins with a 361-86-6 record during his 36-season career. Last year, he led the Scots to the 5A Division I Texas State Championship with a 16-7 victory over Temple. The victory marked the Scots' second state championship under Allen's tenure, coupled with their 2005 title. Recognized nationally as the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year, Allen’s success on the field is only rivaled by his dedication to building high-character student-athletes. He was a tailback at Abilene Cooper High School and SMU before embarking on his successful coaching career, compiling winning records and multiple playoff appearances at Ballinger, Brownwood and Abilene Cooper high schools. Allen earned a master’s degree from Texas A&M.

3A Coach of the Year –
Jake Fieszel, Gunter  
Jake Fieszel led Gunter to its first perfect season in school history in 2016, compiling a 16-0 record capped off by a 43-7 victory over Boling in the 3A Division II Texas State Championship. In honor of the Tigers’ championship season, he was named the 2016 TSWA Class 3A Coach of the Year. He has been the head football coach at Gunter since 2007, and he was an assistant coach for the Tigers from 2004-06. During his 10 years as Gunter’s head coach and athletics director, Fieszel has compiled a 107-23 record while leading the Tigers to seven district championships and playoff appearances in all of his 10 seasons. He is on pace to become Gunter’s all-time wins leader. A Dallas native, Fieszel is a graduate of Frisco High School and the University of Texas.

Assistant Coach of the Year – Grayson Wells, Highland Park
Highland Park offensive coordinator Grayson Wells helped lead the Scots to the 2016 5A Division I Texas State Championship with a 16-7 victory over Temple. The victory marked the Scots' second state championship with Wells as a member of the coaching staff, which they previously won in 2005. He has spent his entire high school coaching career as a member of head coach Randy Allen’s staff, beginning at Abilene Cooper High School in 1991, then moving with Allen to Highland Park in 1999. Wells played and coached football at Tarleton State University while earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

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