ABILENE — Mike Welch — a two-time all-stater at Sweetwater High School who helped lead the Mustangs to a state championship in 1985 and later was a four-year starter at Baylor University — is among a group of 10 former athletes, coaches, officials and sports writers who have been selected to the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame.
Welch started for Sweet-water at running back and defensive back in the mid-1980s, and last year he was named a second-team defensive back on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine’s 50th anniversary high school football team. He was the only Big Country athlete to be named to the team.
Welch was also a four-year starter for Baylor at defensive back, and in 2009 he became a Baylor Football Legend. As a college player he won All-America honors and finished with a school record-tying 16 interceptions, plus 319 tackles. He is also a member of the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame as well as the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 2011 Big Country Hall of Fame class is headed by Dallas Cowboys great Bob Lilly, a member of the Pro Football and College Halls of Fame. The Morris Southall family of Brownwood will receive the second annual Legacy Award, which went to the Pat Gerald family of Sweetwater in 2010. Morris Southall was the top assistant for 26 years at Brownwood to Hall of Fame coach Gordon Wood. They helped produce seven state titles and two of those teams were quarterbacked by Southall’s sons Si and Shae. The 2011 class also includes ex-Abilene High and Abilene Christian University football coach Wally Bullington, ex-Avoca basketball star Cynthia Shelton Raughton, ex-Aspermont basketball/track star John Ray Godfrey, ex-Abilene High lineman John Paul Young, who was a longtime NFL assistant, and Mike McClellan, a star running back at Stamford and the University of Okla-homa, a posthumous honoree. The Hall of Fame induction banquet will be at 6:30 p.m. May 9 at the Abilene Civic Center. Tickets go on sale in February.