Lonnie Crittenden Set Bar High
For Blue Dragon Receivers
Back in the days when it wasn’t fashionable for football teams to throw on any down and from anywhere on the field, Alonzo “Lonnie” Crittenden forced the Hutchinson Community College coaching staff to think beyond three yards and a cloud of dust.
Bringing a unique skill set from Huntington, Virginia, Crittenden was a central figure on two of the Blue Dragon football program’s best teams of all time in 1969 and 1970. In his two years at Hutchinson, Crittenden also set a very high standard for Blue Dragon receivers and joins the HCC Quarterback Club Hall of Fame in the induction class of 2017.
“When I went to Hutchinson, the stars aligned perfectly and I was in the right place at the right time,” Crittenden said. “There was such a great support system at Hutchinson. I had the opportunity to focus and excel. They had a great system.”
Crittenden played on Hutchinson’s last undefeated football team in 1969. But it was during his sophomore season in 1970 where he left all Jayhawk Conference defenders in his wake.
As a sophomore in 1970, Crittenden became Hutchinson’s first-ever 1,000-yard receiver in a season. He was a first-team NJCAA and JC Grid Wire All-American with 54 receptions for 1,209 yards with 12 touchdown receptions. Those numbers were all No. 1 in the NJCAA statistically that season. Crittenden was also second in the nation as a punter with an average of 43.5 yards per punt.
At the time of his graduation, Crittenden held every Blue Dragon receiving record and remained the holder of all those record for 41 years.
“We had a very balanced attack on offense,” Crittenden said. “Donnie Wilcox was the quarterback and Dave Wassenburg was the running back, but with me and Jack Morris, they recognized that we would be able to throw the ball as well so we opened it up.”
Crittenden still holds Hutchs single-season receiving yards record of 1,209 yards. He also remains the Hutch record-holder for receiving yards per game (120.7), single-season yards per catch (22.3) and career yards per catch (21.6).
Crittenden had 81 career receptions for 1,747 yards in two seasons at Hutchinson. His yardage remains second in team history and his total catches are still fifth in team history. His 92-yard touchdown reception from Donnie Wilcox is still the second-longest catch in program history.
Diligent research by his mother led Crittenden to Hutchinson.
“My mother was a guidance counselor, so she was researching all the schools that I could go to,” Crittenden said. “She located Hutchinson and knew Hutchinson had a great reputation with academics and a great tradition in football and basketball.
“Coach Matous at that time didn’t know anything about me. I was an unknown product, but my high school was already running the “Run and Shoot” offense. Coach Matous liked to run the football, so I had to prove myself to him.”
Crittenden’s head coach was 2000 Hall of Fame Inductee John Matous. His roommate was 2013 Hall of Famer Mo Lattimore and during his freshman season, Crittenden played on the other side of the offensive formation from 2016 inductee Jack Morris. Willie Adkins (2004) and Gene Keady (2008) were assistants.
After his stellar career with the Blue Dragons, Crittenden transferred to the University of Texas-El Paso where he started as both receiver and punter. In two years with the Miners, Crittenden had 86 career receptions for 1,292 yards and eight touchdowns. He was a Western Athletic Conference honorable mention selection in 1972 and preseason first team in 1973. He averaged 41.44 yards per attempt on 96 career punts and still has the second-longest punt in UTEP history of 84 yards.
Not drafted by an NFL team, the Florida Blazers of the World Football League chose Crittenden in the 13th round. He also received undrafted free agent offers from the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears and CFL’s Saskatchewan Rough Riders. He chose the Blazers, but midway through his first professional season in 1974, Crittenden was traded to the Chicago Fire. He had a combined 29 receptions for 510 yards and two touchdowns with the Blazers and Fire.
Crittenden chose not to return for a second season.
“I decided I was going to move on with my life,” Crittenden said. “I knew I could have success outside of football and my life wasn’t defined by football. I love the game, but I knew I was ready to transition into a life without football and be just as successful,”
The JC Grid Wire Notebook published a list of best-ever NJCAA football players prior to 1980. Crittenden was on that list – another name on that list was Roger Staubach.
Crittenden also ran track at Hutchinson as a sprinter for yet another Hall of Famer, Terry Masterson, in 1971. He posted 14 times of 9.7 to 10.1 seconds in the 100-yard dash and qualified for the 1971 NJCAA championships.
Originally from Newport News, Virginia, Crittenden resides in Hampton, Virginia. In addition to his professional business career, Crittenden has also competed in more than 50 triathlons.
The combined team record of Crittenden’s Hutch teams were 19-1-1 with two bowl trips.