Oct. 12—SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The moment simply overwhelmed Mac Whitehead.

No matter the highest of highs he achieved in his illustrious football playing career, Whitehead was on cloud nine when Missouri Sports Hall of Fame president Jerald Andrews reached out through a phone call last month.

The message: Whitehead would be honored with the Sport Hall of Fame's Elite 11 award, which recognizes former high school and college standouts who have made positive contributions to the game.

"I was pretty emotional" when Andrews called, Whitehead said. "It's crazy just to be honored like this for the work that you do and what you are trying to do for the game. It means a great deal not only to me but that I can represent my high school, my community and my teammates this way. It's a pretty big deal."

Whitehead will join the Hall of Fame's Luncheon at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield. Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling the Hall of Fame at 417-889-3100.

At Seneca, Whitehead posted video game-like numbers as an all-state running back in 1992 and 1993. He finished with 4,947 yards on 598 carries (8.2 yards per carry) and scored 46 touchdowns.

And he likely would have rushed for more than 5,000 yards had then-Seneca coach Tom Hodge (MSHOF 2016) not sat starters during blowouts.

Whitehead went on to play two seasons at Southwest Baptist and then finished as a two-year letterman at Missouri Southern. There, he was a 1997 All-MIAA kick returner as he averaged 14.7 yards per return, which ranks as sixth-best in school history.

"It's funny because I graduated in 1994, so it has been some time since I played high school football and even in college," Whitehead said. "I get kids that ask me, 'Did you play in high school?' I'm just very humbled to share my experiences when they do ask. I've been very blessed to play with a lot of great teammates, and that is one of the biggest things I get to tell a lot of people. I got to do a lot of cool things playing football, but the only reason I gotta do it and have success was because I got to play with a lot of great guys."

Of course, Whitehead is currently the football coach at Diamond High School.

"When you step away from playing, the fact that so many years have gone by and so many people still show so much appreciation for your career is quite an honor," Whitehead said. "It's so humbling to me."

Whitehead will be joined by former Monett and Pittsburg State standout Blaise Bauer, who will also be recognized with an Elite 11 award.

At Monett, Bauer played tight end, slot and some quarterback for the Cubs while earning three varsity letters as well as all-conference and all-district his senior season in 1983. He initially signed with the Arkansas Razorbacks, but opted to play at PSU.

Bauer was twice an NAIA All-America tight end (1987-88) and was team captain and MVP in 1988. An inductee of the Gorilla Athletics Hall of Fame, he is now the Superintendent at Girard in Kansas.

"I feel very humbled by this recognition," Bauer said. "To me, it just emphasizes that I have been blessed to have some outstanding coaches, teammates and role models in my life that have contributed to any success that I was fortunate enough to experience."

As for inductees, the Hall will induct Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali, Missouri running back Devin West, Kickapoo and Central Missouri quarterback Scott Loveland, Salem coach Bill Schuchardt and Lebanon radio broadcaster Kevin Stubblefield.

Cassville's 2008 and 2009 state championship teams will also be inducted, along with the Harrisonville football program.

Other Elite 11 honorees include Brock Baker, Joe Close, Lance Johnston, Marcus Klund, Drew Newhart, Jeff Portman, Jack Randolph, Casey Shadel and Nathan Stokes.

(c)2021 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)

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