Remembering 'Papa' Cain and Berkley
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- SOMETIMES A newspaper obituary doesn't tell the whole story.
Earlier this week the community of St. Albans lost one its great sports stars with the passing of football, basketball and track star Reggie "Papa" Cain at the young age of 62.
In the 1960s, no community had more spirit than St. Albans. In those days, Crawford Field did not have lights and Red Dragons home games were played on Saturday afternoons. Every year, the stands were packed as legendary coach Sam LeRose had over 100 players on his roster.
The 1968 team was one of LeRose's best and they finished the year No. 2 in the state, losing to Charleston High in the Class AAA state championship game 3-0. Among the team's stars were quarterback Donnie Carr, running back Malcolm Calhoun and the electrifying Cain.
Earlier in the season, the undefeated Red Dragons played then-unbeaten DuPont in a game with playoff implications on a Saturday afternoon. The game was so big that it was moved to the old Laidley Field to accommodate the crowd. It was also televised by WCHS-TV, Channel 8.
On the third play of game's first series, the Red Dragons broke it open on an 85-yard pass play to the speedy Cain and no one could catch him. That play seemed to set the tone for the game and St. Albans went on to win handily.
Following high school, Cain went on to play football and run track at Compton Junior College in California.
Eventually he came back to this area and was involved with many things, including drug counseling. He was CEO and founder of Redemption House. Those who know him best said he truly lived up to his nickname of "Papa" Cain as he seemed to have a natural gift for working with youngsters who did not have a father in their lives. His impact on young people in the Kanawha Valley will be greatly missed.
At last weekend's Charleston High all-class reunion, there was talk of another former athlete that our area lost too early. Terry Berkley was a beloved multi-sport athlete for the Mountain Lions from 1966-69. He had the rare distinction of playing on the 1968 AAA state championship basketball team and, later that fall, the 1968 state title football team. In junior high, he and the late Larry "Deacon" Harris led Roosevelt Junior High to a city championship.
"I never ever saw Terry Berkley get mad and don't know of anyone who didn't like Terry," remembered teammate Levi Phillips. "He always had something positive to say to everybody all the time. He was an incredible comforter. When our 48-game winning streak was snapped in the 1969 basketball regional finals, our team was crushed. He was the one that went around the locker room providing encouragement and reminding everyone how much we had to be thankful for and what a great three years we had had. Everybody loved Terry Berkley."
The Marshall men's soccer program is opening a new facility next weekend. There is a lot of local flavor on this year's Thundering Herd team.
Former Hurricane star Trevor Starcher is a red-shirt freshman and expected to be a starter. By the way, Starcher's father, Johnny, was a quarterback at Nitro High School in the mid-70's and played against current Marshall football coach Doc Holliday and athletic director Mike Hamrick.
One of the best players in the history of Charleston Catholic, Tommy Trupo has recovered from some medical issues and is also on the Marshall roster. Also listed on the Herd roster are the outstanding goal keeper prospect Brady Raymond from Point Pleasant, Logan Powell from Woodrow Wilson and Ian Lovern from Bluefield.
There is one other name who burst onto our soccer scene last year. The Gatorade state soccer Player of the Year, Felipe Thompson, was a foreign-exchange student last year at Hurricane. He helped lead Jim Dagostine's team to the AAA state championship. Get this - he also may have been best football kicking prospect in the state, even though he did not play football for the Redskins.
There are hints that Thompson may take a shot at football in the spring for Holliday. He has a blaster for a leg and his leg strength and kick-off potential could be very intriguing.
Reach Frank Giardina at email@example.com.