Inductees: Expectations, hard work key
Published 12:05 am Saturday, August 9, 2014
Last night’s inductees into the Andalusia High School Hall of Fame echoed two themes: hard work and high expectations pay off.
David Anthony quarterbacked the 1976 team inducted this year. The team (13-0-1) was named state 3A champions in the only championship gave ever played at Andalusia High School, an honor they shared with Athens when the game ended in a tie. The seniors on that team never lost a regular season game.
“I can’t believe it’s been 38 years ago,” Anthony said.
“Coach (Don) Sharpe, coach (Gwen) Burkett, coach (Richard) Robertson, coach (Tommy) Eiland and coach (Felix) Boswell led us through an incredible era of AHS football,” he said. “I hope we’ll see it again, but it would be hard to match up to. Playing as a team, and oneness, as coach Sharpe called it, enabled us to be successful. It enabled us to be state champions.”
Sharpe called the ’76 team, “the greatest defensive ball club I ever coached.”
“The largest guy on defense was Mike Etheridge, a defensive tackle. He weighed 172 pounds.
“The smallest man on the team was Lebo Williams. He was five-six in a stretch, and about 127 pounds.
“Everybody else was in the neighborhood of 155 to 165, including the linebacker,” Sharpe said. “It was unbelievable.”
Sharpe recalled a game against Enterprise, that, he said was “our big game.”
“They had a split end that was No. 80,” he said. “I had a sign in the dressing room that said, ‘No 80 is watching you.’
The split end was 6’2”, and weighed 195 pounds,” Sharpe said.
“So we lined Lebo up with him,” Sharpe said. “We told him, ‘Every time he moves, knock the crap out of him.’
“About the sixth play of the game, they ran a quick screen to this big boy. Leebo hits him under the chin, knocks him down, and knocks his helmet off. The whole (Enterprise) team went, ‘And that’s the little one over there.’ “
Recalling play after play of similar surprises that year, Sharpe said, “That was one of the reasons we had a feeling of superiority. Even though we were small and sometimes slow, we were full of fight.”
Sharpe said after his first year at the helm of the Bulldog team, alumni players began the tradition of wearing their football jackets and lining the walkway as the team went into the stadium.
“There was always the group of guys in football jackets standing along the walkway as we went in to the stadium,” Sharpe said. “The group grew and grew and grew. They were saying ‘Go get ‘em,’ and ‘You better not lose.’ It was incentive, and also something we looked forward to.”
Joe Cope, who was a Bulldog from 1998-2001, walked on at Auburn and eventually started at center, became the hall of fame’s youngest inductee.
Cope said before his coaches expected hard work from him, his parents, Lucky and Felicia Cope, instilled an expectation of hard work and toughness.
“Coach Robertson, when I was in the eighth grade, would come and pick up three of us for spring training,” he said. “We rode in the back of the truck.
“One day he was passing out jerseys, and he gave me No. 77. Coach Rob said he knew someone who wore 77.
‘He said, ‘They were great, and you’re gonna be great,’ ” Cope recalled. “I tried to live up to it every day.
“They put toughness on us, and hard, hard, hard work,” he said. “When I got to Auburn, it was already in me. I got lucky, by the grace of God, and some guys who got injuries, I got to be an Auburn Tiger.”
Ricky Vinson, who was a defensive lineman at AHS from 1975-1977, said the foundation for what he and his teammates accomplished began in middle school.
“We were taught to win or lose as a team,” he said. “No one was bigger than the team.”
Vinson recalled that the standard of excellence to which the football team was held also applied to cheerleaders and band members, and added that the support of the student body and community was not to be forgotten.
“The community followed us back and forth,” he said. “There’d be more Andalusia fans than home fans at away games … that’s just the way it was. How in the world can you not love a school, a community like this?”
Lamar (Fred) Locklier
Also honored was Lamar (Fred) Locklier, who played quarterback for Andalusia in 1945 and 19456 and was a halfback in 1947, when the team went undefeated.
His son Brant accepted for him, and said his father taught him and his brothers some of the lessons he learned in football.
“He said if you want to be a great football player, you’ve got to line up at line of scrimmage and dare them to come across.
“He used that strategy raising us boys,” he added.
He said his father’s 1947 team gave up 13 points all season, and seven of those were against Opp in the last game of the season.
“It still bothers him,” Locklier said.
Don Ganus is one of only three AHS athletes to earn 13 varsity letters. A member of the AHS football team from 1952-54, he declined football scholarship offers and instead chose to play baseball for the Milwaukee Braves, where he remained for nine years.
His daughter, Kim Ganus Rowland, spoke for him.
“My dad never had a coach he didn’t like and respect,” Rowland said. “He says when he did something outstanding, he was almost embarrassed about the attention. To him, football was about the team. He says, ‘I would ask the fellas to block, and I would run through the hole.’ ”
Rowland said her father had scholarship offers most young men only dream about, including playing football at the University of Alabama.
“He only weighed 155 pounds and he already had one neck injury from football,” she said, adding that was one reason he chose a career in baseball. The Braves gave him a $500 signing bonus and $175 a month.
“He had never seen a $100 bill,” she said. “To him, that seemed unreal.”
Rowland said even after her father left football for a career in insurance, he was still involved in athletics.
“He was a hitting coach as player after player came through the hitting cage in my back yard,” she said.
She said even though sports has continuously been a part of her father’s life, the perspective on sports shifted after Rowland’s son, Holt, died in a car accident on the way home from batting practice.
“Holt was more known for his faith than for his batting average,” she said. “The previous summer, he used baseball as a platform to share the gospel in the Dominican Republic.”
The family established The Holt Rowland Foundation, she said, as a way to remember his life. The foundation has provided scholarships, she said, but also focuses on sports ministries.
Rowland said her father’s athletic gifts and love of sports have allowed him to achieve many things.
“But he’s also used that gift to make an impact in ways the record books could never show,” she said.