Give everyone credit, we are trying to play high school football in the Mountain State this fall.
If we do play, it might be kind of a hybrid season that starts and stops from one week to the next, and with limited fans and community involvement. It will still be a morale boost for the students and the communities but it may not look like high school football in the Kanawha Valley in the 1970s when stadiums had large crowds, marching bands were large and our population was bigger.
Here are some memories from those times:
n St. Albans at Charleston, 1970: This was a marquee matchup. Both teams were undefeated and ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in Class AAA. They had played in the Class AAA state title game a year earlier and Charleston escaped in the mud with a 3-0 win on a Chuck Green field goal. The old Laidley Field was overflowing for the rematch. Charleston’s sophomore sensation running back Mike Tyson went 93 yards for a touchdown early and the Mt. Lions rolled to a 48-6 win.
n Oakes Field: In the fall of 1975 and 1976, Oakes Field in South Charleston had a carnival atmosphere on Friday nights thanks to Robert Alexander. Fans from all over the state came to see him. Alexander was a high school All-American and nationally known as one of the top running backs in America. As a junior in 1975, he led Homer Criddle’s team to the AAA state championship game. As a senior in the fall of 1976, he had offers from every school in the country before choosing to sign with West Virginia.
n George Washington: Under coach Steve Edwards, Sr., the Patriots were ahead of their time in featuring a sophisticated passing attack. Quarterbacks like Trippi Adams, Billy Williams, Scott Long and Mike Estes all put up big passing numbers for the Patriots. Receivers like Perry Debord, Tim Wilcox and Clyde Childers also had big receiver and running back numbers.
n Stonewall Jackson: Several years ago, he 1974 Stonewall Jackson team was voted as the best team to ever play in the old Kanawha Valley Conference. The Generals won the Class AAA state title over Parkersburg in Huntington. They had everything. Head coach Bill Jarrett had an all-star assistant coaching staff that included Roger Jefferson and Jerry Townson. They had had an incredible line, terrific skill players and a superstar in future WVU and San Francisco 49ers running back Walter Easley.
n East Bank: Friday nights at Calvert Field were always festive. In the 1970’s Don Arthur’s Pioneers won Class AAA state titles in 1971 and 1973. Among the stars were Claude Geiger, Lester Weems, Dewayne Daniels and Don Payne.
n Herbert Hoover: The Huskies of the early 1970s packed in the fans from Falling Rock to Elkview. Robin Lyons won the Kennedy Award. Ed Hamrick and brother Mike Hamrick went to Marshall. Steve Chandler and Allen Chambers were also stars.
n DuPont: The 1972 DuPont team of Tom Bossie forever raised the bar for DuPont football. The Panthers played in three state championship games in 1972, 1976 and 1978. Danny Williams won two Kennedy Awards. Bob Casebolt signed with Wyoming. Charlie Tucker played on the offensive line at West Virginia Tech.
n Dunbar: Dunbar was always good. The Bulldogs were especially tough to beat at a packed Lions Field. Players such as Heywood Smith, Tony Harris, Jeff Good, Jerry Mallett and Doug Spry were all good players in the early ‘70s. Smith went on to be a starting fullback at WVU.
n Nitro: Nitro’s Jon Loftis was a great young coach in the early ‘70s. He created excitement at Nitro. In 1971, he had Jack Eastwood who went to WVU and Steve Thornton, Jim Valleau and Kevin Mathes who signed at Marshall.
n Ansted: In Fayette County, Ansted was a football power in Class A of the early 1970s. Coached by Roger Eades, the Highlanders won back-to-back state championships in 1971 and 1972. One of the stars was Tom Pridemore who went on to be a safety for Bobby Bowden at WVU. He also had an eight-year career with the Atlanta Falcons and helped turn them from a doormat into a playoff team. He is one of our state’s most underrated football stars.