Thursday night, Aug. 19, The Greenville High School honored the 1971 undefeated football team. I was a part of that team. I must admit that I hadn’t even thought of it being 50 years ago that I was playing high school football. The 1971 team was a special group, not because we were unbeaten, but because of the people who were on that team, the coaches we had, and what we have become.
It is hard for me to describe how I felt Thursday night; I wasn’t nervous, or overly excited, or anxious…I was just ready to see old friends. Most of the players on that team still communicate with each other…probably not as much as we should, but there was a camaraderie that this team had that was noticeable. We liked each other, and we liked the coaches. I did not interact very much with the head coach, probably the best coach Greenville has ever had, Tom Holman. Coach Holman made us good because he had simple schemes, and was not afraid to work us hard. One quick example is our
Quarterback Sam Spidel, and I once flubbed a center snap in practice. Sam even told coach he dropped the ball, but coach wasn’t having it…he made us do 100 extra ball exchanges…as he stood and watched…AFTER PRACTICE! My position coach, Pete “Hoss” Moore, and I were a little more than player and coach. I liked Pete, and he liked me. I learned a lot from him and he was always encouraging. I think the other teammates will tell you that they had a similar situation with their coaches too.
As we stood there at the north end of the stadium, as more of us ambled up to the group, you could tell by the smiles and the handshakes and hugs that this was special to all of us. It brought back floods of memories. People laughed, told stories, asked about teammates that weren’t there, and just generally enjoyed being together again. I was really happy that at least a couple of the cheerleaders, Cindy Burns Moore and Peggy Crawford Black, showed up too. That entire season was not just the football team, it was the cheerleaders, band, Wavettes, The Tidal Wave (more on them in a later column), Parents and fans. A total team effort. It felt like a team effort again Thursday night.
I want to commend the school, the Commissioner of the MVL Eric Spahr, Ty House, and all those involved who made this happen. It is a shame that the Wave came up a little short in the game, but I did see some real promising signs for them: they ran the ball very well, the offensive line was really good and will only get better, there is some speed on the team, and I think that Coach Schmitz has something building here. I hope so. It is a little sad for me that in 50 years Greenville has had only 1 undefeated team in football. We should be better than that. Maybe, next year or soon, it will happen, and I will be one of the first ones to tell every member of that team how special it is. They probably won’t think so, but when they get together after they graduate, they will never forget the team they had. I want that for them. It is a special feeling with special people. I was lucky to play on a team that had special people who for the most part became successes in their personal lives. I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates. I love them all. That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines.