Alone at the Top

Nearly four decades ago, Jimmy Hogan set a record
that no one has even sniffed.

Jimmy Hogan was a star for Newport News High School in 1966. His football career ended when he graduated.
After graduating from Newport News High School, Jimmy Hogan joined the Newport News Police Department. Now retired, he lives in Smithfield and enjoys riding his Harley.
1967 Anchor, p. 107
Photo courtesy of Mickey Marcella ('54) of VA
Buddy Norris/Daily Press

 

    Before Ronald Curry, before Aaron Brooks and the Vick brothers, there was a guy named Jimmy Hogan. Kids today don't know the name because he never played a down of college or pro football. But during a magical two-game stretch in the fall of 1966, he was untouchable.

On Nov. 5, a Saturday night, Hogan set a national high school record by passing for 636 yards and nine touchdowns in Newport News High's 60-13 victory over Denbigh. Seven days later, he slacked off a bit against Ferguson with 537 yards and seven scores in a 46-26 win. That's 1,173 yards and 16 touchdowns - a good season for most.

In the 39 years that have passed, three high school players across the country have passed for more yards, four for more touchdowns. But Hogan remains the VHSL record-holder in both categories. In fact, nobody - not even the Atlanta Falcons' $130 million man - has even come close.

"I wasn't sure if it had been broken or not," he says. "Every two or three years, somebody will mention it."

Jimmy Hogan graduated Newport News the following spring, but he never made it to college. He injured his left knee as a junior, his right knee in prep school. Colleges who had expressed interest became reluctant to sign a quarterback with two bad knees. So, 19 years old and with no hope of college, he embarked on a new career: law enforcement.

"It wasn't easy to get somebody to join the police department back then," he says. "These guys who were on the department told me that if I just went down to apply, they could get a free day off. So I did. Next thing I knew, I got a call telling me I was to report to duty in a week."

Just like that, he was a proud member of the Newport News Police Department. Thirty-four years later, after working in narcotics and homicide, he retired as a sergeant. Now 57, he spends time with his wife and daughter at their home in Smithfield and rides his Harley.

Hogan didn't retire from the force completely on his own terms. One night, he was chasing a suspect who ran into a church. Hogan nabbed the guy, but they both had to sit through a couple of hymns while he caught his breath.

"That's when I knew I was either going to get hurt or get somebody hurt, so I went ahead and retired," he said. "I didn't have the stamina I needed and I didn't know why."

He soon found out. In October 2004, roughly a year after he retired, Hogan had returned from a fishing trip with his son when he felt a sharp, excruciating pain in his chest. He was alone and convinced he would not survive. But after the pain subsided, he gathered himself and went to his daughter's volleyball game as planned. When he told his wife what happened, she took him to the hospital.

Hogan was told he had angina, which is chest pain due to inadequate blood flow through the coronary vessels. It can be a warning sign of a heart attack. It also can be a symptom of coronary artery disease. Roughly 6 million Americans are dealing with it.

"When it happens," he says, "you're convinced you're in the last few seconds of your life."

This past July, he had a second episode. Hogan says his doctors have told him there has been no damage to his heart. He carries nitro tablets, which widen the vessels, with him at all times. Doctors inserted stents to clear the arteries. Five months after his last attack, he feels fine.

"I don't feel like anything is wrong with me," he says, "but I do get winded pretty quick."

We all get older and slower, but Jimmy Hogan was young and quick during the fall of '66. Unfortunately, every trophy and press clipping that his mother saved was destroyed by a fire.

"But I still remember," he says.
   

(This page was created on 12/24/05, at the suggestion of Sandi Bateman Chestnut - '65 - of VA

and Jimmy Walker - '62 - of VA.)


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