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Remember when?

By Tim Chambers
Remember when?
Alan Jackson told us that song that “old ones died and new were born.” You’ll find that to be true in sports.
Each year you’ll have a select number of players that stand out but others are waiting in the wings to take their place. And historic games are often replaced by ones just as good down the road.
As time passes those names and games are forgotten or are they?
We can turn back time by searching the archives. It’s a fitting way to unveil historic sporting events or performances from years gone by.
Some we mention will have died but their memories will last forever.
Remember when?
It was 38 years ago, 1976. T-bone steak sold for $1.49 a pound at Blackburn’s Super Market and Ernie Drake Motors was having a warehouse sale to move 44 cars in less than a week. Double S&H Green Stamps were being offered with a purchase of five dollars or more and Ray Blanton was Tennessee’s Governor.
It was also a year when Johnson County football was going through a transition.
Holston High School and Appalachian State University graduate Tim Brown was in his first season as head football coach and Carter Baker was his top assistant.
The conference was pretty well balanced from top to bottom but two teams stood out after the first five games.
Happy Valley, the preseason favorite was 4-1 but undefeated in conference play. Hampton (5-0) was the surprise of the league receiving votes as one of the state’s top five teams.
The Bulldogs were favored to make it six straight on their homecoming night against Johnson County but the game didn’t take place as scheduled.
Heavy rains fell all day on Friday forcing it to be played on Saturday. It was the second time in two weeks that the Dogs would have to move a game. They had defeated state ranked Northwest Ashe 12-7 on a Monday after weekend heavy rains postponed that contest two weeks prior.
The final score on this night would be the same but the end result wouldn’t be to their liking.
The Longhorns had some weapons.
Senior standout Mark Humphrey had led the conference in scoring as a junior and was well on his way to a repeat. Jimmy Muse was a headhunter on defense and so was linebacker Jack Pennington.
Kevin Thomas, the father of Elizabethton’s star running back Ethan Thomas, was a valuable team member as were Ronnie and Greg Bellamy.
Johnson County entered the game at 2-3. One of their wins was a 6-0 decision over South Greene a team Hampton had defeated 29-6.
But the Watauga Conference had parody from top to bottom. Five teams could win on any given night. The Longhorns were about to prove that.
It took three plays for Hampton to score on their opening drive. Some heavyset sportswriter broke free for a 55 yard run then scored two plays later on a five yard carry. Dino Senesi kicked the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
The weather was tough on both teams as a steady drizzle fell throughout the game.
Johnson County had trouble moving the football and Hampton did to.
This scribe left the game after a 13-yard run on a clean hit from the blind side by Greg Bellamy. That and the hard running of Humphrey and Pennington were taking its toll on the Bulldogs.
Humphrey would bull his way in from a yard out late in the second quarter. But the Horns trailed 7-6 after they missed the extra point.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.