Looking back: High school football teams shape up

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

by Clyde Parker

August 31, 1968
With two weeks of pre-season practice down and one to go, here’s how the area high school gridiron teams shape up for the coming season:

Southampton High School

The “Indians” held a controlled scrimmage with Churchland last Monday in Courtland. “We are pleased with the scrimmage,” says Coach Wayne Cosby. “We had a strong running attack.”

Dennis Harrell, a halfback, and Glen Crowder, Mike Beale and Greg Pope, all fullbacks, should stabilize the Southampton ground game in 1968. Danny Withers will probably be the starting quarterback against Emporia on Sept. 6, the first game. He will be backed up by Paul Rawlings.

In the interior line, the two Burgess boys, Ronnie and Scooter, both looked strong in the scrimmage.

Two outstanding 1967 players Senior (and Co-Captain) Gary Williams and Junior Glen Rawlings, an all-district selection, will fill the end positions. According to Cosby, “They are two of the league’s best.”

Others seeing action will be All-District Tom Ussery, a senior, and Sophomore Glenn Crowder at tailback. Sophomore Frank Beale and Junior Greg Pope will alternate at fullback and Kenny Williams will be at setback. Senior James Kello, and Sophomore Jimmy Holland are at center. Senior Blount Thorpe, Junior Jimmy Pope and sophomore Keith Cobb are working at the guard positions. 

“The team as a whole looks good,” comments Cosby.

The Indians will kick off their ten-game schedule at Emporia Friday night. They play another non-conference foe, Western Branch, the next week.

Hayden High School

Coach Robert Sandidge has announced the probable starting lineup for the “Wildcats” Sept. 6 opener with “Westside” of Smithfield.

The starting lineup is as follows: Clarence Baker, center; Newsome Chavis and Calvin Thorpe, guards; Raymond Parker and John Banks, tackles; Michael Smith, tight end; Maurice Cutler, split end; Clarence Payne, flanker; David Goodwyn, halfback; James Wright, fullback; and Alvin Harris, quarterback.

The probable starting defense has Raymond Parker and John Banks, tackles; Newsome Chavis, middle guard; Michael Smith and Ernest Bowers, defensive ends; Larry Biggs and James Beale or Donnie Cotton, linebackers; Robert Barham and Rudolph Postel, cornerbacks; and Paul Britt and Lawrence Barnes, safeties.

“Anything in the backfield can change by Friday,” asserts Sandidge.

Westside will have, basically, the same lineup from last year, although they lost Lawrence Gatewood, their star quarterback.

“Our team appears to be in good condition,” says Sandidge. The Wildcats have been running  two-a-day drills since August 15.

Franklin High School

The “Broncos” are continuing twice-a-day drills until school starts, when practice will be cut to one-a-day. They held controlled scrimmage with Emporia last Tuesday night, and Coach Howard Matthews commented, “We thought our offense looked real good.”     

The Broncos made few offensive mistakes compared to Emporia. Franklin intercepted two passes and recovered four fumbles, while The Eagles intercepted one pass.

All three quarterback candidates, Johnny Rabil and Bob White, both juniors, and David Rabil, a sophomore, saw action in the scrimmage.

As for the running attack, Butch Turner, Willie Ashburn, and Peter Pearson all looked well.

Franklin launches their 1968 season campaign against Suffolk on Sept. 13, giving them an extra week to prepare for the game.

Riverview High School

The “Eagles” will begin their 1968 season, on Friday in Courtland, with East End High School of South Hill, the VIA, Group 1 State champion.

“We’re stacking up well,” says head coach Morris Wiggins. East End has from 15 to 20 veterans returning from their championship team. “We’re expecting a very strong team on Sept. 6, Wiggins said. 

“James Buck, a veteran, is coming around well as quarterback while Thomas Pope and Sam Williams are doing well at halfback. Our receivers, Leo Hardy and Luther Woodard, both veterans, are also looking good,” says Wiggins.

The Eagles are able to build an experienced team from end to end, with the exception of the center position which will be filled by a rookie.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net