Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

November 12, 2012

Americus High’s 1962 State Champions celebrate 50 year reunion

AMERICUS — The 1962 Americus High School State Champion football team celebrated their 50th anniversary on Friday night at the Americus-Sumter football game against Crisp County. The highly attended reunion featured 15 former players, five former cheerleaders, and two of the three coaches from the undefeated State Champion squad.

Touchdown club president Rusty Whaley was extremely pleased with the turnout for the reunion. “I thought it was very good. You have got to understand that a lot of these guys are getting up there in age by their own admission, and they don’t have the same energy and mobility that they used to. Still, we had people come from as far north as South Carolina and as far west as Mississippi,” said Whaley. “A few weeks ago we only have five or six and then it just started snowballing.”

The reunion featured appearances by players John Paul Chambliss, Pepper Ryals, Gene Dunmon, Randy Jones, Edwin Feagin, Butch Reeves, Tim Furlow, Bill McGowan, Eddie Roquemore, Jimmy Walker, Walter Rylander, Walter Stapleton, Johnnie Johnson, Joseph Logan, Gary Reeves, and Billy Tye, along with cheerleaders Kay Morris Adams, Martha Hart Ridgway, Betty Thiers Godwin, Lauren Windham and Faye Feagin. Head coach Jimmy Hightower and assistant coach Melvin Kinslow were also in attendance.

Players, cheerleaders, and coaches enjoyed a meal at the hospitality tent on the practice football field where the old Americus High School stadium was once located. The team looked through old newspaper articles and scrap books to reflect upon their amazing run and the awesome feat they accomplished.

“This is really great. We are having a good time reminiscing. I am seeing some guys tonight that I haven’t seen since we graduated from high school,” said former player Butch Reeves, who went on to play at the University of South Carolina and in the National Football League with the Houston Oilers.

Former player and Vietnam War veteran Tim Furlow echoed Reeves’ statements about the reunion. “I come down here often, but 50 years ago we learned we were winners. I want to say thanks to parents and coaches and the community for this.”

Randy Jones, who still resides in Americus today said, “Several of us are able to use face book, and several of us are not. We have stayed close because this is a bond that you’ve got that you never lose. It’s something very special.” Jones said that the 1962 Americus High School team was special because they were not supposed to win state because of the personnel on the team. “We only had five seniors on the team. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for us because we had so many juniors on the team,” he said.

Legendary coach Jimmy Hightower said that seeing all of his old players put him in a state of disbelief. “I live here now and I see some of these guys every now and then but it is hard to believe that it has been 50 years. I think this was a great event, but it is just hard to believe it’s been 50 years.”

Hightower said that he was blessed to be in such a great town in Americus. “We had a great program here in Americus, and it was as good of a situation as you could have. The touchdown club supported us and sent us to camp every year and it was just great.”

As for the 1962 season, it is one that will always be remembered by the great coach. “It was the first state championship they had won since 1944 and we played the state championship here and played Carrolton here. We didn’t have but three coaches and we worked hard. With just three of us we didn’t cut any corners and the kids got to where they expected to win. This was a great place to coach.”

The 1962 Americus High School team made history with their undefeated season, and they will always be remembered as champions. This reunion was a great experience for all of the ex players and fans to interact and hear the great stories from that wonderful season. To have so many players, cheerleaders and coaches show up 50 years later is a true testament to how special this team really was.

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