Winning ways link Martin, Westview
Posted: Friday, August 19, 2011 12:05 am
By: Randy Cavin, Special to The Messenger
By RANDY CAVIN
In the fourth part of a five-part series, The Press takes a look back at both Martin and Westview High Schools over the last half-century of football, beginning with a brief timeline of the beginning of both schools.
The original Martin High School opened for classes in 1925 and it was constructed on the old campus of McFerrin College. Students called the high school home for 46 years — until the fall of 1971 — when classes began at the new high school known as Westview.
Both Martin and Sharon consolidated into the new school and the MHS Panthers became the WHS Chargers in the fall of 1970, while the new school was still under construction. Sharon got its high school back in the fall of 1982 and in 1991 they re-consolidated with Westview. Today, there is an even newer WHS that was completed and opened in the fall of 1997.
Martin-Westview has been one of the premier football programs, rich in history and tradition over the last half-century — not only in Weakley County, but also in northwest Tennessee.
Jim Graves took over the program from Kenneth Wright in 1963 and continued that winning tradition. Wright coached from 1959-62, accumulating a 28-12-2 record to go along with two Reelfoot Conference playoff game appearances, winning it in his first season.
From 1963-67, Graves led the Panthers to a combined 41-13-1 record and three trips to the postseason. During those five seasons, the Panthers played in the conference playoff game in ’63 and won the conference outright in the ’64 season.
In 1965, the Panthers went 9-3 and got a 13-7 win over Newbern in the Civic Bowl. Graves led his Panthers to an 8-3 season in ‘66.
The 1967 season started out much like the two previous season openers — with an opening day win. Little did the Martin faithful know that season-opening win over Union City would mark the beginning of the greatest winning streak in the history of the program. Martin would go on to win 42 straight games in what has become known as “The Streak.”
Barry Harper scored three touchdowns in the 32-13 victory. Bobby Morrison and Johnny Shanklin also scored for the Panthers in the win over the Tornadoes.
In the fifth game of the season, Martin torched Sharon in 61-0 rout. Harper once again led the way with three touchdowns. One came with the opening kickoff and Harper ran it back 80 yards for the score. His second touchdown came on an 80-yard pass play from quarterback Mike Beeler. Richard Bragg added a two-point conversion run and a touchdown in the game.
Martin beat Lake County in the West Tenn Bowl 38-20 to cap off the first of four straight undefeated seasons.
The 1968 season saw Jim Dunn as the new head coach of the Panthers, but he kept them focused and primed for the season opener against the Tornadoes. This would be the third straight time the Panthers opened the season with a win over UC. This time, the Panthers notched a 28-0 score against the arch-rivals. Danny Walker, Johnny Shanklin, Gene Leonard and Bobby Morrison all scored for the Panthers.
In the sixth game of the ’68 season, Martin found itself in a duel with Trenton to keep the streak alive. The Panthers came out on top with a 25-19 score. Shanklin proved to be the deciding factor in the game as he scored all four of the Panthers touchdowns. One came on a 70-yard sprint in the third quarter. It was the Panthers 17th straight win.
Martin went on to play Dyer County in the Reelfoot Conference playoff and came out with a 20-6 win. It was Martin’s second straight undefeated season and its 22nd consecutive victory.
The Panthers opened the 1969 season once again with a win over the Tornadoes with a score of 30-12 to extend their unbeaten streak to 23 games. Rick Perry and Cary Henson scored the first two touchdowns for Martin. Danny Walker connected with Mark Safford for two scores.
Martin would go on to finish the season 10-0 and win the conference outright. The Panthers had also won 32 straight games. It would also mark the end of the Martin High School Panthers. Beginning with the 1970 school year, they would now be known as the Westview High School Chargers.
It was a new name for the school and team, but they faced off with an old foe the first game of the season. The Tornadoes gave the Chargers a run for their money, but, in the end, it was Westview who came out on top with 24-21 win to keep the streak alive. Ronnie Shanklin scored 22 points on three touchdowns and two two-point conversions.
The sixth game of the season saw WHS break the state record of consecutive victories against undefeated Lake County by a score of 20-16. Danny Walker led the scoring attack with two touchdown passes and one rushing score. Westview was the only team in the state to win 38 straight games without a blemish on its record.
The Chargers won their next two games against Milan and Henry County to set up a showdown with Humboldt for what many people called “The Game.”
More than 9,000 people were on hand to see Westview put its unbeaten streak up against No. 1 ranked Humboldt. The Rams jumped out on top, running the opening kickoff 98 yards. The Chargers tied the game at six all later in the first on a Danny Walker TD.
Humboldt retook the lead late in the quarter with a score of 14-6. Walker connected with Mark Stafford on a 23-yard pass to tie the score 14-14 in the second quarter. Ronnie Shanklin went in from two yards out to put Westview up 20-14 late in the quarter. The Rams went up 22-20 after a 77-yard, nine-play drive in the fourth quarter.
Late in the fourth, following a Rams’ punt, the Chargers moved the ball down to the eight-yard line, on the hard running by Shanklin. With just eight seconds left on the clock, Johnny Brundige calmly kicked the winning field goal, marking the end of what is still this day called “The Greatest Game Ever” in the history Martin-Westview football.
Westview beat Greenfield the next game to end the season and win its 42nd consecutive football game. Ironically, the streak would come to an end the opening game of the ’71 season against the very team that the streak began with — Union City, under head coach Jim Graves.
After 1970, the Chargers only had one more winning season in the ’70s, that being 1975 at 7-4.
From 1983-85 the Chargers went 20-13.
In 1989, the Chargers found themselves in unfamiliar territory, making it to the Class 2A state playoffs and advancing to the semifinals against Brentwood Academy. In the game against South Fulton, the Chargers blanked the Red Devils 50-0, thanks to the defense causing six turnovers. Kyle Alexander scored on a 12-yard fumble return. In the third quarter, Darryl Hicks also scored on a 38-yard fumble return to lead the defensive assault.
Two games later, in what could be considered as déjà vu to the 1970 season, Westview and Humbolt locked up in one of the greatest come-from-behind wins in the program’s history.
With the Chargers down 19-0 with only five minutes to play in the game, Frank McCluskey hit Darryl Gardner on a 26-yard pass for the Chargers’ first score. Gardner added the two-point conversion to make it 19-8. Chris Brown intercepted a pass to give WHS the ball on the HHS 38. McCluskey hit Brown in stride three plays later for another score to make it 19-14. After an onside kick, the Chargers moved the ball to the 38. Gardner squirted free to tie the score at 20-20. David Freeman caught the two-point conversion pass to give the Chargers the win.
In 1992, the Don Coady era began. In 20 seasons, he has amassed a 165-74 record with a Trenton Elks Bowl win and 17 trips to the playoffs, including a trip to the Blue Cross Bowl in 2001.
In 2001, the Chargers went 13-2, the most wins in a season on their way to the state playoffs final.
Defensive lineman Justin Harrell was named the Class 2A Mr. Football. Tailback Rafeal Hill was also a finalist for Class 2A Mr. Football.
Herrell would go on to play his college ball at Tennessee, following other former Chargers Chad Clifton (Class 2A Mr. Football 1994) and Will Ofenheusle. All three would go one to play in the NFL. Both Clifton and Ofenheusle played on Tennessee’s 1998 BCS championship team.
Other prominent players who played during the Coady era include: Chris Hogard (5,000 rushing yards), Nick Hampton (2,218 yards, 38 touchdowns in ’97), Jeremy Manees (leading tackler in ’97), Kendrick Edwards (1,155 yards rushing, 17 touchdowns in ’98) and Markei Guy (1,711 yards rushing, 16 touchdowns in ’05).
Published in The WCP 8.18.11
Westview, Winning ways link Martin