— By GREG WEBB
BROCK — Like it or not —and indications are that he is OK with the situation — Brock senior Slaten Gough recently became a significant piece of Eagles’ athletic history. In a school year chock-full of firsts for Brock football, Gough has added and indelible mark in school annals as Brock’s first gridiron student-athlete to sign a letter-of-commitment to play at the next level.
In a recent gathering at Brock High School, Gough’s family, friends, classmates, coaches and other well-wishers, celebrated the event over lunch and photos, and lots of both. Brock head football coach Chad Worrell began the event with a praising account of Gough’s contributions to the Eagle program while touching on the running back’s impressive stats on the season and the precedent his accomplishment sets for Brock athletes to follow.
In a touch of historical irony (also another apt entry into the Eagle Athletics diary), the first bricks were being laid for the field house at Eagles Stadium the very day Gough inked his intent to attend and play football at Hardin-Simmons University.
The meaning of the past year’s events are not lost Gough, who is a member of Brock’s first varsity football team, and is pleased to be part of the Brock football milestones.
“It’s been fun, helping to get this football program started,” Gough said. “Playing on this team as a senior was an awesome experience, and I had one of the best years I’ve ever had playing football.”
Even in the relatively short time the running back has attended Brock (he transferred to the school district at the midpoint of his junior year), the bonds with his teammates for the 2013 season are strong. Gough has confident expectations for the 2014 team who, yet another first, will enter University Interscholastic League play in the fall.
“As one of the seniors on this team, I hope I did a good job of setting a positive example for the guys who will be on the varsity next year,” Gough said. “These guys didn’t experience the playoffs, of course, but I think they will be ready when they make the playoffs next year.
“I’m really looking forward to coming back to watch them, and be out there with them [on the sidelines].”
Hardin-Simmons came into the recruiting picture when Brock assistant football coach Marte Amrine sent the Cowboys’ staff a highlight film.
“I was being recruited by a couple of other schools,” Gough said. “I guess HSU liked what they saw in the film Coach Amrine sent them, and we set up a visit.
“I really liked the campus and the facilities, and it just all kind of came together after that.”
Planning to pursue a business major with designs on a vocation in finance, Gough is glad he will be furthering his football career and education just down the road from Brock.
“I like the fact that HSU is pretty close,” said the senior. It won’t be much of an ordeal to come home if I need to on short notice.
“We also have a ranch even closer to Abilene. It’s a good place to hang out with friends.”
In the books, and on the gridiron, where Slaten gained more than 1,750 yards for the Eagles last season, he knows there is a lot of hard work ahead of him.
“There are never any guarantees of playing time, he said. “I’m just planning to work hard when I get to Hardin-Simmons and earn myself a spot.”
And who knows if there may be some more history-making milestones for the Brock senior — there’s certainly been plenty of those so far, and he’s handled them splendidly.