Monday, February 23, 2009

Big Brown and Bobby

Dear Mustangs and friends of Mustangs it is with deepest regret that I report to you the death of two great Mustangs footballers. Walter Brown (Big Brown) and Bobby Crossett passed away last week. These two great linemen for the Mustangs played side by side (tackle and guard) on the great team of 1958 (10-1 having beaten Lexington twice with the only loss to a powerful Jackson High team in the Exchange bowl-Huntingdon's third straight participation in that bowl game).
These two were hard nosed players who came off the ball very hard clearing the way for the backs with giant holes. Walter went on to play four years at Murry State in Ky. Both had remained good friends of mine through out the years since I moved back to Huntingdon 34 years ago. They will be missed by family and friends.

Scott Portis
Mustang 1955-1958

Friday, February 8, 2008


All - Have fixed the problem with the picture! Sorry about that.

Please keep emailing your stories, old and new, to dad. If you don't have his email, then post a comment to one of the blog entries and dad will contact you.

Scott M Portis

The Gleam in His Eyes

Johnny, the Carter boy's names are synonyous with Mustang sports, especially football. What a great team you were on, probably the best in Mustang history (1966). Tommy Portis has related many of the tales of when you boys played for Coach. I got to see the Camden game that year, driving all the way from Indianapolis.

I remember well those days I helped Coach Bouldin get the junior high boys ready for their season before returning to UT. Coach Ewell Bouldin did a great job getting future high schoolers ready for the tough road ahead.

Coach Ward indeed had many facial expressions. I enjoyed that, as you say, gleam in his eyes many times even after returning to Huntingdon to practice medicine. I would often stand with him at Mustang games after he retired and we would analyze the other teams and the current Mustangs. Wallace, Moose, and I often took him out to eat or grilled steaks and did nothing but talk Mustang football for hours. He seemed to get tremendous pleasure out of this, as we did too. Great, great times spending those days with a man that we all loved and respected so very much.

You will also remember that "sneer" that he could put on his face when he was displeased with you. I had screwed up about two plays in a row one day at practice and he came over to me and said (with that sneer on his face), "Portis, if you can't play quarterback lets see if you can play a little defense". So, Johnny Pitts came in at quarterback (excellent ball handling skills, but as I tease him today, just a mite slow) and I was relegated to the second team defense at linebacker. This made me very mad and I was determined that the next back through that line was going to pay a heavy price (Pitts, Moose, Pinkley, did not matter). Pinkley got the call and came over weak side guard through a Mack truck size hole; I had him lined up in my sites with the "bullseye" on his belt, as I bore in for the kill, Pinkley gave me that famous hip of his and I grabbed nothing but air, falling to the ground in a heap. Coach came over and looked down at me again with that famous sneer and said, "don't look like you can play defense either".

Johnny, you remember from your email, Mr. Pudor still was very visible on the practice field and at games adding valuable information to Coach Ward. I think he was his #1 scout for many years. The two of them worked very close together. I think I feared Mr. Pudor about as much as I did Paul Ward. Bruceton always played Huntingdon tough; you can vouch for that. The talent differential did not matter. The three years that I got to play against Bruceton the scores were 7-6, 14-0, 14-0. Thirty five of the toughest points I can remember. My senior year we had a much stronger team than Bruceton-depth, superior position players, and the game was in Huntingdon. Well at the half time the score was 0-0. We were not over confident and were playing hard but those guys were "sky high". On the very last play before the half, I was running the ball and two Bruceton defenders drove me over that wire that stretched between the light poles all the way over to the concrete bleachers in front of the press box. I got up and had to stand there a minute to remember which way to the dressing room. During half time Mr. Pudor, who had been in the press box, came over to me and said,"Scotty, why don't you run 18 keeper in the second half; I think it will go". He must have seen something from his position above the field. When we got the ball in the second half, I told Wallace to call 18 keeper. The blocking was superb, Buster Barger, Levoy Brown, Big Brown, all laid waste to the left side of the Bruceton line, Wallace got a good down field block after a fake to him, and Moose made the last clearing block wiping out their safety. Moose scored a late touchdown and we won 14-0. After the game Mr. Pudor came in the dressing room and walked into the shower, water running, with me standing their, buck naked, pointed his finger at me and said,"what did I tell you". I remember the water hitting his pants legs but he did not seem to care. More great memories of another man who helped guide us.
My hat was always off to Bruceton as those boys came with their "A" game year-after-year (the Williams twins, Bobby Lowe, Billy Darden (who is still a great friend of mine today-he could punt the football a mile-high and long), Billy Butler, Vernon Spencer (we both dated the same girl from Huntingdon-Alice, I won't tell the bloggers your name). Great competition from them.

Johnny, I remember the "old timer's game ", you guys played in McKenzie and the pounding you all gave them. I am sure that the old plays all came back. I have enjoyed hearing the old numbers: 32 and 33 belly, 48 and 47 belly, 18 and 17 keeper-wow, what memories. Wallace made up a play one day in practice that we called, "Portis to Pinkley to Portis", that we used to great success against Paris our senior year. I handed the ball off to him over the tackle hole after faking to Moose, if there was a good block on the linebacker and Wallace got outside when he approached the halfback and safety he turned and pitched the ball to me as I trailed the play. After doing this several times the Paris backs got wise and played me so Pinkley just keeps the ball and cuts down the center of the field for a long gain (Mustangs 41-Blue Devils 7).

So sorry that I get carried away so but these blogs bring back a flood of memories like it was yesterday. Coach Ward would love to be here still to share all of this with us. I am sure that he is looking down from heaven with his old players that are there with him getting a big kick out of these ramblings. He is just waiting on all of us to join him someday. Who knows there still might be another game with Bruceton yet.
Johnny Carter, so good to hear from you. Tell Joe Morris hello for me. I still see your dad often and always go up to him and ask how the boys are doing. He always gives me a big grin and procedes to give me the low down.

We hope soon there will be a "Coach Paul Ward" scholarship to preserve the memory of a man who ment so much to so many people.
Scotty Portis (Mustang 1955-58)

You have done great job communicating with everyone. I have spent so much time enjoying reading all the stories that I have not sent anything myself. By the way, I remember you helping "coach" us after you had gone to college -- you did a good job with some future Mustangs and I always appreciated that. We all were very fortunate to grow up in Huntingdon and be part of something that had the support of the entire community.

Anyway, here are some of the things I remember:
Coach Ward had a talent for understanding an individual and getting the most from each of us. As tough as he was, I was never afraid that I would not be treated fairly and somehow benefit from whatever he was teaching ... football, basketball, swimming, baseball, etc. Over the years, it was always a pleasure to see him again and to see the gleam in his eyes that we had all seen when he would laugh.

My Dad (John David Carter) had told me that when he first worked in Huntingdon and still lived in McLemoresville he would be driving home from work and pick Coach Ward up and take him home. Coach Ward was in high school at that time and would be walking home (about five miles) from football practice.

Mr. Tate once told us that Mr. Pudor was gone during the war and he was appointed the football coach for a period of time. He said the only reason he was asked to do this was because the team needed someone on the sidelines on Friday night. He said he would go out to the practice field during the week and tell the boys "ya'll have a good practice" and then he would go home.
During my sophomore year we had a "walkie talkie" (it looked like the big black ones in the war movies) on the sidelines during a few football games. For some reason, I was chosen to be in charge of communications between Mr. Pudor in the press box, with the other walkie talkie, and Coach Ward on the sidelines. Mr. Pudor would see something and it was my job to chase Coach Ward up and down the sidelines and inform him -- for some reason, I got the feeling that he did not want to be bothered during a game. I must have been right because the walkie talkie did not make it through the season!

When I was in college at Memphis State, Roy Gene Dill called me (and my brother Joe Morris Carter, Co-Captain 1965) and said that McKenzie had challenged Huntingdon to an "Old Timer's Game" of football during Thanksgiving week-end. The only stipulations were that Bobby Hayes and Tim Priest could not play. Coach Ward did not want to loan us equipment and I fully understood why he would'nt. We went to McKenzie on Friday after Thanksgiving and borrowed equipment from them. We never practiced or went over any plays prior to the game. They had referees, charged admission, and had a pretty good crowd on hand. We huddled up, a play was called, and I don't remember anyone not knowing what to do (this was a range of players that had graduated over several years) -- we had all run these plays so many times it was just normal. Huntingdon won 38 to nothing and even though Coach could not loan us the equipment, I guarantee that the gleam was in his eyes when he heard the score!

Thanks again for pulling this together,
Johnny Carter (1966)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Camel Cigarettes"

Johnny, Fireball (Kenneth) Pinkley was ever bit the athlete that his big brother Wallace was. Fireball could "hum" a baseball thus his nick name. I never was able to hit his fastball. He was great on the diamond and football field both. The story of Kenneth and Larry sounds just like some of the tricks that Kenneth and Larry were capable of. I am not a bit surprised. Larry and I roomed together in Knoxville with a big old tight end from Centerville, a boy named Lonnie Smith. We had great times but it was all I could do to keep those two out of trouble. We lived in the athletic dorm which was in the stadium back then. Ever nite they would walk across this railroad trestle to the "Smokey Mountain Market" for a chile dog. I liked chile dogs from "the market" too but not enough to walk the trestle which was over the Tennessee River. I kept telling them they were going to get caught by a train and sure enough they did one nite. Barely made it across before the train got to them. They would stay all nite down on the rocks by the river fishing, sleeping in blankets with the rats running over their feet. Its a wonder we did not die of mercury poisoning, eating those nasty fish out of that polluted water.
Larry remains one of by best friends today. He is a "hoot" to be around still. He loved Coach and Coach loved him. His senior year at HHS he was returning a kickoff to the right (right return), when the flow started that way, he reversed his field and ran left for a touchdown. Coach Ward jerked him off the field and said, "Stewart, when I say 'right return' I mean 'right return', do you understand"; a meek Mr. Stewart replied "yes, sir". Coach Ward came to K'ville several times to see games while we were there.
Clyman Dale was as tough as they come. We were on the same field together my senior year and his sophomore year. In the Jackson High (Exchange Bowl) game that we lost, Moose had been hurt and Clyman took over at fullback and did a great job (as a sophomore). Toward the end of the game, we were on our 40 at the left hash mark and Wallace wanted to run a screen to the strong side as their ends were crashing like crazy. So Wade says, "Clyman, you are going to play quarterback on this play and block to the weak side and Scotty is coming to fullback and will take the pass after sliding off his block on the strong side-do you understand". His head shake was affirmative. We lined up in the "T" with the idea to shift into the single wing so Wade could take the direct snap. So far so good. I start calling the signal but Clyman forgets to shift so I had to say "Clyman, shift over" during the cadence, which he finally did and then the play went off as planned.
Fireball and Clyman Dale made great contributions to the athletic progams for Coach Ward. I am sure he was pleased with both of these men.
Scotty Portis (Mustang 1955-58)

Fireball and Clyman Dale

Scotty.. I talked with Kenneth "Fireball" Pinkley at the complex today and he had me laughing out loud. I asked him if I could tell his tale and said it was ok..

Here goes... It seemed that Fireball was younger than Larry Stewart and was somewhat in awe of him. Both Larry and Fireball had summer jobs working for the city and they were mowing the grass at the Clark Cemetery located on Murray Lane off East Paris Street. They broke for lunch with the other boys at the cemetery and Larry bet he could beat Fireball in a race to a large tombstone located a short sprint away. Fireball didn't think he could beat Larry and Larry said he was going to race him on his hands. Stewart told Fireball to let him get up and then give him 3 steps and then Fireball could start. The deal was if Fireball caught Larry before they reached the tombstone then he had to tackle Larry. Larry took off and Fireball caught him and tackled him as he was running on his hands and was upside down. Apparently Larry thought this was great for a young lad like Fireball to tackle him and he was so excited that he put Fireball on his shoulders and carried him back to the spot where they were all eating lunch. I wish I had a picture of Fireball riding on top of Stewart's shoulders don't you?

Another tale that Fireball told was about Coach Ward. It seemed one afternoon during practice that Coach Ward wanted Clyman Dale Smith and Fireball to stay after practice. They had no idea what Coach wanted and he had them catch punts and run them back till they were whooped. Coach finally told them to head to the locker room and hollored out that was for all the Camel cigarettes they had been smoking. As Fireball and Clyman were walking to the dressing room Clyman told Fireball he was glad coach Ward didn't run all of the Lucky Strikes out of him cause he didn't think he could have made it. These stories about Coach Ward seem to grow as everyone has good memories about Coach.

Johnny Radford

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Football Car

Jimmy, very good to hear from you again. I still am having to "put up" with your ornery ole brother, Gerald Byron, more than I want to. I hope you saw his blog.
These stories have been great for all concerned and they have spread even further than our expectations. Your words, "the values Coach insisted we learn and hold dear have guided me well", are so very true for all of us. I can think of many incidences in my life of coming to a crossroads and saying to myself, "what would Billy Portis or Coach Ward have done in this situation" and then taking the road less traveled to get to a goal. I think the values we learned from Coach paved the way to make our decision making a lot easier. I have been an " exercise nut" for many years but remember when my playing days at HHS and UT were over and thinking "thank goodness" I don't have to exercise anymore, then waking up one day and realizing, Coach Ward would be disappointed in my decision. He definitely changed my life with the lessons that he taught.
On a lighter note. I have a little story on our good friend and ambassador Johnny Radford. I only hope that his sweet little wife Trudy does not "get wind" of this story. Seems that the Mustang bus was rolling through Nashville on the way to Donaldson for the bowl game and Coach had warned the team not to be hanging out the windows and hollering at the female persuasion. Well, it seems that young Mr. Radford either did not hear this warning or elected to ignore it being over come with passion once sighting some of the Nashville beauties. Word has it that the quarterback was out the window to his waist, hollering at the cuties, when Coach came down the isle and grabbed him by the waist and started pulling him back in the bus. Johnny kept swatting at his hands thinking it was none other than a teammate. Well when Coach had had enough of this he jerked him back in and the look on Johnny's face as my brother Tommy says "was priceless". Would give a $100 bill to have seen that look.
JK, again so good to hear from you, and thanks for the kind words for Coach Welch and Ms. Johnnie(who are still going strong by the way). He added a great dimension to the teams he helped coached. He was about as tough as Coach Ward. The two of them together were awesome.
Little Paul and Bobby have expresed their gratitude several times for our efforts but I have explained to them that this has been a two way street for all of us.
Go Mustangs
Scotty Portis (Mustang 1955-58)

Scotty,first off a big thank you to you and your son for putting this together and thank you to Johnny Radford for forwarding it to me. I spent a lot of yesterday going through the stories and all the memories. It's hard to single out one or two but I have a few that stand out. I played on the varsity 65,66,67 and junior high the three years before that. I was fortunate to get to see some really good ballplayers and to be on some great teams. A few of my memories are:The football car. It's amazing in today's frame of reference that Coach would allow a high school kid to be responsible to drive a school owned vehicle to take people home but if not for that old car some of us might not have had the opportunity to play ball. In that old 55 Chevy the Jackson highway, Browning highway, and Lexington highway gangs all came together. In today's speak I'm sure that you could say that giving responsibility builds character and trust but for those of us who drove it as I did my senior year it was much more primal. If we screwed up Coach would kill us. No questions asked. But as a scrawny seventh grader it was a prime time to get to ride home with the "big guys"."Between the dummies" has been referenced to but I remember those today very clearly both the one on ones and the two on ones. I remember counting down the lines to see who you were going against and if your match was Johnnie Compton, the Wallace brothers, the Hall brothers, or many others your heart would be pounding. I also remember the feeling you had if you stuck your head in and at least got off a decent lick on one of the big guys Coach would holler out " way to go little man" or something to that effect and suddenly despite the fact that your shoulder was numb and your vision was fuzzy it was all worth it.Coach wasn't too big on trick plays so we didn't have too many but in 1966 we put one in. We would break the huddle and Lender Pearson ( I think) would be in the backfield and upon Tim's signal Lender would break and run toward the sideline like he was trying to get off the field, (too many men) Coach Ward on the sideline yelling at him and waving him over. At the last moment Lender would turn down field and the plan would be to pass him the ball while he was on the dead run. I can't remember if we ever ran it in a game or if we did if it worked but I remember running it over and over in practice and Coach Ward laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes. Beat the hell out of running 32 belly over and over again.Last in case anyone ever doubted whether Coach Ward cared for his players should have been on the bus in 1966 when we went up to play Portland in The Bowl game that was the first overnight trip in recent school history. On the way up Coach came down the aisle and gave everyone two or three bucks. You see we were on our on for breakfast the next morning and he wanted to make sure everyone was covered. That simple act has stayed with me over the years as I am sure there might have been a few that wouldn't have gotten breakfast otherwise. That and who will ever forget our return to Huntingdon the next day. Thank you for the opportunity to share a few memories. The values Coach insisted we learn and hold dear have guided me well. All the best to the Ward family. Also I want to thank Coach Welch. He and Mrs. Welch had a lot of positive influence on us kids. Too bad we never get that many chances to say thank you.Regards,JK
Jim KirkseySchlumberger Carbon Servicesc/o Illinois Geological SurveyChampaign,Illinois713-614-1847 cell