Tom Hancock was standout football coach for Lakewood

Leader who focused on fundamentals leaves memories of powerhouse program

Posted 4/4/19

Tom Hancock kept it simple and established one of Colorado’s top high school football powerhouse programs at Lakewood during the 1950s and 1960s. Hancock, a teacher, coach and director of physical …

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Tom Hancock was standout football coach for Lakewood

Leader who focused on fundamentals leaves memories of powerhouse program

Posted

Tom Hancock kept it simple and established one of Colorado’s top high school football powerhouse programs at Lakewood during the 1950s and 1960s.

Hancock, a teacher, coach and director of physical education for Jefferson County Schools for 34 years, died on March 19 at the age of 90.

He will be remember as the coach that made Lakewood football a force to be reckoned with. Sixth Avenue was still a dirt road when he first started as the Tigers football coach in 1954.

“He tried to keep it simple,” said his son John. “He didn’t have a billion plays or a billion formations. If you just executed better than the other person and everybody did their assignments you’re going to be quicker.

“He was a disciplinarian. I’ll see all his former athletes and they’ll all say they never met another person in my life that had a better influence on me than your father and making me understand accountability and make something of myself. They thought he was very fair. He also had a big heart. It was how he treated kids who needed a friend and needed help. “

Hancock had a 137-30-3 record from 1954 through 1968 at Lakewood. His teams won 78.7 percent of his games, captured state titles in 1960, 1964 and 1968, and were the state runner-up three times. He won 10 league titles while he was coaching.

“He probably had the first weightlifting program in the state,” declared Hancock. “You have to remember some schools in Colorado Springs had three high schools in the 1950s and ‘60s. Wasson had an enrollment of probably close to if not more than 4,000. Denver Public Schools were big. Lakewood was just a little school in the middle of nowhere in the 1950s and early ‘60s.

“He felt he could do it better than anybody else. He felt it was a lot better to lose a game and be my fault. He said, `I’m not going to sit there and take a loss because I had somebody else do something and then accept that mistake. If we make mistakes then it is my mistake.’”

John Hancock recollects the state runner-up finishes of his dad’s teams against fullback Dick Anderson, quarterback Bobby Anderson and Boulder in 1963 and against Wheat Ridge in 1966 as almost as vivid as the title victories.

“In ‘63 they were in the finals and got beat by Boulder,” said Hancock. “They had beaten Boulder really good earlier in the season. And that was when Kennedy (President John F. Kennedy) got shot. They canceled the game until early the next week. Then the Lakewood quarterback got a staph infection in his toe and couldn’t play. So they lost in overtime.

“I remember in 1966 when they had that Freddie Steinmark run (77-yard touchdown run) all over the news. He ran this way and that way. They (the Tigers) had Wheat Ridge beat until he made that run.”“

John Hancock, a former football coach at Lakewood, Evergeen and head track coach at Mullen, never got to play for his dad at Lakewood after Tom resigned from coaching to become the Jeffco PE director in 1968.

“If he didn’t take that job, it probably wouldn’t be there again,” said Hancock. “He didn’t want to have to coach me although I wished he would have. He felt he had to do this for the family.

“If Dad would have stayed, Dave Logan (former Wheat Ridge, Colorado and Cleveland Browns football player) would have been a Lakewood kid. That’s what it would have been. David grew up with us. They bought a house in Applewood and his dad thought he was in Lakewood. If Dad would have stayed and coached, David would have played at Lakewood.”

Tom Hancock is a member of the Jefferson County Sports Hall of Fame, the Colorado Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He was a state champion 154-pound wrestler at Greeley High School in 1946 and played middle linebacker at the University of Colorado.

“He kind of put his heart and soul in Lakewood and he really put a pride in the community,” said Hancock. “He had some good athletes. Everybody talks about Joe Romig. Joe was phenomenal. He had Pat Matson. He had several Matson kids. There was Mike Schnitker and Steve Tracy.

“His three top athletes were Romig, Steve Tracy and the pure athlete was George Lewark.”

There will be a celebration of life in honor of Tom Hancock between 1:30-4:30 p.m. on April 8 at the Rolling Hills Country Club at 15707 W. 26th Ave. in Golden. Donations can be made to Lakewood High School in memory of Tom Hancock.

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