LOOKING BACK: Riverview defeats Hayden

Published 5:23 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

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Sixty years ago, on November 8, 1963, the Riverview High School “Eagles” football team, of Courtland, defeated the Hayden High School “Wildcats”, of Franklin, by a score of two to zero – in a game played at Hayden Field.  

Hayden and Riverview fought it out in a game that could have been anybody’s but went to the visitors from Courland by two points.

A safety in the first quarter cost Hayden the game and meant a win and second place in the conference to Riverview Eagles.

The game was defensive all the way; Riverview never got a first down on rushing and only had four in the whole game. All yardage came on either passes or penalties. And, they had only 50 yards rushing on 16 carries in the whole game. Hayden had seven first downs, mostly from rushing. 

The safety in the first quarter occurred when Riverview quarterback Charlie Williams attempted a touchdown pass from the fifteen-yard line. A Hayden player, Will J. Harris, intercepted it, dropped the ball, picked it up and started to run with it then was brought down behind the goal line by Allen Ridley, Richard Whitfield and Vann Tennessee. 

Hayden also had a safety but lost it on a penalty. During a series of plays, Riverview fumbled the ball and Hayden recovered it. The next play, Hayden fumbled the ball but recovered it and moved it to the Riverview eight-yard line and then fumbled again. The Riverview team recovered but was forced to kick three plays later; the Hayden defense rushed the center, forcing quarterback Charlie Williams to lose control of the ball which took it out of the end zone for an automatic safety. But, the play was called back due to a penalty against Hayden.

The game remained a defensive see-saw battle right up until the final minutes of the game, then everything broke loose. Hayden started things when Leon Majette connected with Leroy Holloway with a fifty-yard pass play. Holloway was on his way to paydirt when the last tackler brought him down on the eleven-yard line. In four plays Hayden could only move to the five yard-line where Riverview took over. Riverview bumped smack into a defensive line from Hayden that refused to move and was forced to kick.

Riverview stood on their own goal line and Herman Grant got set to kick. The eight-man Hayden line came charging in, but end Eddie Blow was at midfield waiting for the pass and Grant connected to the surprise of the Hayden team and the crowd. The fifty-yard pass play was called back on a penalty and the two teams finished out the game inside Riverview’s ten-yard line. Hayden was on the seven-yard line when the game ended. 

Led by Head Coach P. D. Vann, Riverview prevailed over Hayden in a hard-fought and low-scoring defensive game. The Riverview team included quarterback Charlie Williams, center Richard Whitfield, right halfback Vann Tennessee, fullback Gerald Williams, left halfback Booker Wynn. A powerful defense was led by Robert Harrell, Bubble Blunt, and Jim Bo Cotton.

Coach Vann said he was happy with the game although he was disappointed, they couldn’t move the ball. He too was proud of his defensive team and thought they played a bang-up defensive game.

Robert Sandidge, Hayden coach, said after the game he felt the game should have been theirs and that fumbles cost them the game and at least one touchdown, He had praise for his defensive team which stopped Riverview cold on the ground.

The game was the last of the season for both teams.  Hayden finished the season with six wins, one tie and three losses, which included a forfeit to Carver.

Riverview ended the football year with a 7-1-1 overall record and a 3-1-1 conference record, which was good enough for second place. Carver beat Booker T. Friday night and won the conference championship.

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.