Ray Akins, a staple in Texas high school football for 37 years, 22 of which as the head man in Gregory-Portland, passed away Tuesday at the age of 92.
Akins began his head coaching career back in 1951, guiding Lometa to a five-win season; the first five of 293 career wins, tied for 11th in most all-time wins in Texas. After stops in Goldthwaite, Tomball, Tidehaven and Freer, Akins would make his mark in the Corpus Christi area with the Gregory-Portland Wildcats.
G-P won a whopping 16 district titles during his tenure, 12 of those in succession from 1969 to 1980. The Wildcats also played for a state championship in 1971, giving a dominant Plano program a challenge in a one-point loss. Gregory-Portland under Akins saw much success, with only one below .500 season, his first year at the school.
Akins successes with the Wildcats earned him numerous awards and accolades, such as a place in four halls of fame (including the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame), and nation-wide recognition for success in high school coaching with the 2005 Gerald R. Ford All-American High School Coaches Award.
“We were deeply saddened to hear that the Gregory-Portland community lost a legend this morning when former G-PISD Athletic Director and Football Coach Ray Akins passed away,” said superintendent Dr. Paul Clore in a statement Tuesday. “We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, and to thousands of G-P alumni. While he will be greatly missed, we remember Coach Akins as the influential leader he was and will carry on with the standard of excellence that lives on in every G-P Wildcat. The mention of his name is like a banner of pride for so many former students, and will continue to grace our football stadium for years to come.”
The Wildcats’ home stadium was renamed in Akins’ honor in September 2009. The lights were left on Tuesday night, with an image of the coach gracing the scoreboard.
Akins is the grandfather of former Austin Westlake standout and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who had remained close to his grandfather. Brees attended the stadium’s naming ceremony, and credits Akins as a strong influence to his personal game.
“He was probably one of the most incredible people, incredible men that you could ever meet. They just do not make them like that anymore, honestly,” Brees said Wednesday to reporters in New Orleans. “He lived an incredible life. He taught me so much about life, about respecting others, caring for others, about discipline, and about hard work.”
Funeral services are set to take place January 2, at the Franklin United Methodist Church in Franklin.