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Harding High School... way back when
Last Post 12/14/2012 1:22 PM by Dale Ross. 127 Replies.
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Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/01/2010 11:37 PM

Strange a West Mecklenburg guy doing this... lol

Use this thread to talk about old Harding High School stuff. We had some discussion earlier this year... this will be new... I ran across Ed Lawing. I'll be putting some of his pictures  in the photo gallery. Ed was a Phil Hughston Award winner who played Quarterback at Harding under Coach Knotts.

Dale Ross

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pepman Dale's right Hand Man All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:4270
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08/01/2010 11:59 PM
Nice Dale...you gotta put away those alliances for the greater good of the site though!
Reach me directly: pepmancv@gmail.com We don't just report it. We ANALYZE IT!
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/02/2010 12:00 AM

Harding High School Way Back When

I'll add a WHOLE bunch more including baseball...

Dale Ross

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law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/02/2010 9:47 PM
That's pretty good form there! ha.

While there were some pretty good teams and some great players that came through Harding, high school football changed in Charlotte and the state of North Carolina when Tom Knotts became the coach in the mid 80s. His summer strength program was integral in building the program and he installed aggressive offensive and defensive schemes. It wasn't long before involuntary-voluntary summer workouts were the norm and teams were dropping back to pass more than they were running the football.
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/02/2010 10:13 PM

You know, we've had some great discussions around here about how Knotts changed Charlotte.  A lot of us would really like to hear from people like yourself. Not too many people remember how things were in Charlotte prior to Knotts.

pepman, sorry I missed your post man... look I cannot give your lambs... I mean rams grief. I grew up wanting to be one. Busing changed that and I am not unhappy with the outcome

I had a lot of friends that I played against, some lived in my neighborhood. That was tough be added some extra fuel. I still hung out with Harding people at God Fathers Pizza.

Dale Ross

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law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/03/2010 9:58 AM
Godfather's...now that was some good pizza. There's actually a pretty decent restaurant there now. Can't remember the name of it now, but my family and I had lunch there a few weeks ago.

There were some great athletes there pre-Knotts. Mike Eppley, Dean Benson, Phil Beam, Andre Crawford just to name a few. Bruce Hardin had some good teams there and Will Holthouser did too. But when TK got there, things changed. It didn't happen overnight. He went 3-7 his first two seasons before the kids started to buy into what he was selling. Tommy was not going to settle for average. He didn't talk about winning conference championships, he talked about winning it all.

A testament to TK's offensive ingenuity...the base of the offense he ran for years prior to running the spread with Leak was installed in one week. That's right. An entire offense was created, tought, and installed in one week. In the middle of the season. After losing two games in a row in 1986, he scrapped the two back I-formation set for a one back offense with lots of skill players in space. No one knew what to do with it. Actually, a lot of his WR sets can be seen today over 20 years later.

Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/03/2010 11:09 AM

God Fathers was the place to go for both Harding and West Mecklenburg students. Shoney's also... but only if you had a hot rod to show off. I have not been to a restaurant on Freedom in ages... except for Cookout after a game... Couldn't get pepman to meet me there!

I played with Phil Beam @ Westchester, actually Eppley too but he wasn't a QB then. He played Receiver at Westchester then and he was SMALL. Phil was a pretty good QB in High School. But we beat him at Memorial Stadium my senior year.

The first time I saw that new offense @ Harding I thought, wow how are you going to cover that! I guess a lot of coaches thought the same thing

Dale Ross

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westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/03/2010 1:24 PM
I remember when we played that '87 team. That was a hell of a team. They had some monsters on defense. Lawing wasn't too shabby at QB either-
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/03/2010 1:42 PM

About time you showed up!

Dale Ross

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btango All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:3579
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08/03/2010 2:02 PM
This is good stuff. Nothing like nostalgia.

law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/03/2010 2:16 PM
That '87 team was outstanding. The defense was big up front, and fast on the edges and at LB. That Lawing kid was mostly a product of the system. Just ask him. He'll tell you. Haha. But he had a lot of weapons around him and all he needed to do was distribute it to the playmakers.

That West game that year was huge. It was the defacto conference championship. I suggested the old Hook and Lateral on my walk down the field with Coach Knotts after the end of the 3rd quarter. His said, 'why not'. We ran it to start the 4th, it worked like a charm, and West couldnt recover from a 17-0 deficit.

If West had gotten past Grimsley in the 3rd round that year, it would have set up the second huge West Side rivalry in the Western 4A finals in as many years.
westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/03/2010 2:37 PM
Well thanks for bringing back those awful memories! I played center on that team and we couldn't do anything with that D-Line. I remember they had a guard his first name was Darryl-can't remember his last name- and he gave me fits all night. Remember how many people were at that game? In that little stadium? It was unreal the hype leading up to that game. Even if we would have beat Grimsley I don't think we would have anything for them in the 4th round.
law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/03/2010 2:53 PM
Darrell Gray. The guy was a man-child. He could dunk a basketball in the 8th grade. He gave a lot of teams fits, that is for sure.

I would have to look it up, but i think they estimated the attendance that night at around 5,000. That may have been stretching it, but there were people lined up around the fences three and four deep. It was our Homecoming that night. We were undefeated and I think you guys came in with only one loss.

FWIW, i talked to Knotts the week leading up to our 4th round game at Grimsley. He said he wanted no parts of you guys. We all learned how tough it was to beat a good football team twice in the same year the year before against WC. Although, a battle for a trip to the State Championship in Memorial Stadium against you guys would have been pretty cool.
westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/03/2010 3:02 PM
Darrell Gray that's right. That guy could play. That would have been an awesome match-up for sure. We lost to Grimsley on two fluke plays. That period of time was really magical for West Side football. I don't know if you've been to a game lately but to say it isn't the same would be the understatement of the year. We drove up and watched y'all play Grimsley. I really thought you guys would beat Garner but that Barbour guy was something else.
btango All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:3579
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08/03/2010 4:12 PM
Lawing I would love to hear some stories about the title gawe, the lead in to it, Knotts' demeanor and if he was different that week, and the post game.

How did you guys feel about the Garner matchup? Did you notice at certain points in the game that it was sliiping away?

westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/04/2010 7:37 AM
I went to watch Harding play Grimsley that next Friday and also attended the championship game at Memorial Stadium. I was actually kind of hoping Grimsley would beat Harding which would somehow make our loss to them a little more bearable but that offense just methodically dismantled the Whirlies that night. I really thought they would beat Garner. I remember Anthony Barbour got a couple of long runs on them that just kind of took the wind out of their sail. Ed hooked up on a couple long passes that gave them some hope on coming back but it just wasn't meant to be that night.
law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/04/2010 9:41 AM
Tango, I'll probably have to break this into multiple posts. I hadn't thought about the details of the game in a while, so I'll piece it together.

I'll start with the game at Grimsley. I was walking into their stadium with TK when we got off the bus. He says "aaahhhhh. The University of Grimsley". I immediately noticed a banner on the fence by the opposite end zone that said "Good luck. From Page". At the time, Page and Grimsley was like Harding and WC. I knew then and there that this wasn't Harding vs Grimsley. It was Charlotte vs Greensboro. I won't get into the details of the game (i can do that later if you want), but we played very well and won 16-7. Towards the end of the game, TK shook my hand and told me i did a great job. It was the only time he said that to me all year...which just goes to show you what his expectations were. After the game, we celebrated like crazy in their field house. TK was on top of they lockers banging on the ceiling. We were so close the year before and felt we were destined to win it all after beating Page. Expectations were not nearly as high as we lost several key players. Anthony Houston, Antonio Walker, Kenny Stevenson, Eddie Smith, Chad Armstrong. All those guys were huge in '86. And I know i probably left some off.

Anyway, I was scheduled to take the SAT the next morning...which suffice it to say, it was my worst score. I remember the bus ride back from Greensboro. Everyone was sleeping...we were exhausted. Well, everyone was sleeping, but me. I just kept thinking about how all the work had paid off. All the detractors saying I couldn't replace Lizard. That we couldn't be a contender with a 5'8" qb. We were going to play for the State Championship the next week in Memorial Stadium!

After watching film before practice on Monday, I really felt like we could run the ball on them all night. I told our RB (Jonathan Byers) that he was going to have a huge night. We were confident. Shoot, we were over-confident. Our coach was a young Tom Knotts. A young, brash, arrogant Tom Knotts. That was part of our demise that Friday. We took Garner lightly. We were big bad Charlotte Harding (as the rest of the state knew us) and we weren't going to be stopped. They won the previous week against Richmond on a bit of a fluke at the end of the game. We methodically took apart Grimsley, and Ashbrook two weeks before that. That didn't help our confidence situation.

The week of preparation was tough for me. A nagging injury to my right hand limited me. Shoot, i still have a nice knot on the back of my hand over 20 years later from that injury. I remember being tired. Physically and mentally exhausted. We worked out tails off all summer. Running and lifting weights. Practice kicked off on August 1 and we were balls to the wall every week and now it was well into December.

We were in uncharted territory. TK had a quote taken out of context in the Raleigh/Garner papers. They said he called them 'country bumpkins'...which he sorta did. But it was still taken out of context. This became a rallying cry for them...a huge motivator. Bulletin board material and we had no idea until after the ballgame. TK also guaranteed that we would run the Hook and Lateral in the game at some point. He admitted a few years ago that he learned a very valuable lesson that week. Never underestimate an opponent. And don't trust the media.
btango All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:3579
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08/04/2010 11:56 AM
Oh that is some GOOD stuff!!!
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/04/2010 8:14 PM

Lawing... who do you think are the top three QBs from Harding? And just so you know, I've said Eppley is the best QB I've seen play in North Carolina. He had a command of the field like none I have seen.

Dale Ross

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law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/04/2010 8:23 PM

I wasn't sure if that was too much detail...but the memories just kept flooding back so i went with it....here goes part two:

Coach Knotts tried to keep the week of preparation the same for the most part.  I remember going lighter in practice that week, but like i said, we were tired and i am sure he knew it.  But it wasn't the same.  News cameras all over the place every day.  The school decided to throw a pep rally friday.  I don't think Knotts wanted it.  But the rest of the school did.

My hand injury was worse than anyone knew...even Knotts.  It had swollen and i was worried on Friday.  I decided to to an Ice Water treatment just before I got taped.  it hurt so freaking bad.  Two of my linemen had to hold me down.  I think i may have made it five minutes before I called it quits.  It was enough though.  The front page of the Observer had a full color picture of me and several of my teamates.  It was originally going to be a feature on me.  I sat down with the writer of the article for at least a half an hour earlier in the week.  I was excited about being featured, but was glad that my teamates got the recognition in the end. 

The ride to the stadium was one we had taken many times.  But it was different.  The air was cool.  We could see the lights from the stadium on well up Wilkinson Blvd.  Radiator Specialty knew we took the route past their building and had good luck wishes to us on their marquee.  I was so freaking nervous.  I got incredibly nervous before every game...it's just something I do.  But this was for all the marbles.

Pregame was normal.  I did too much.  I was always so excited that i threw a lot of balls...every route...many times.  Knotts always had to calm me down.  This was no different.  The field was painted for the Shrine Bowl that was being played the next day.  The stands were packed early.  Coach Geiler gave us his normal pregame speech.  "You're the underdog.  No one thinks you can do it.  Go out and prove them wrong."  Incredibly, we believed it every week.  Little did we know, their coach (Hal Stewart) was going on his rampage (i saw video of it a few years ago...he was amped up) about how we didnt respect them.  That we thought they were Country Bumpkins.  That we think we are better than them. 

We were the home team, so we were supposed to hit the field last.  But Garner was having none of it.  It was a classic game of chicken.  Who was going to give in.  We were standing in the hall of the locker room...they were doing the same.  We blinked.  One of our coaches (maybe it was Knotts, but i wasnt sure) said 'F it!  Let's go!'

Garner 1 Harding 0

Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/04/2010 8:30 PM

You cannot go into too much detail for us. trust me... lol

Dale Ross

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law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/04/2010 8:51 PM
Dang Dale...there were some pretty fine QBs to play at Harding. A lot of people don't remember that. How about I do four?

Mike Eppley - Ran the option like nobody's business. Two sport star at Clemson. He was my hero growing up. He hardly showed up at the Westchester pool by the time my family joined, but when he did, it was a treat. His passing numbers weren't impressive, but mostly because the game was different back then. If he played in today's offenses, he would have Leak/Cox/Lemay type numbers. No doubt about it.

Anthony Houston - I got to watch him for three years. Man, he was special. Had a cannon. Could run the option. Knotts decided he would build his offense around his athletic ability. He was just so smooth. was a little under-sized to be a big time D1 prospect...plus his grades weren't very good. But the guy was a special athlete.

Walt Aikens - I put him here because he is such a great athlete. I am not sure he had the coaching or supporting cast to put up monster number sor win a lot of games. Put him on a Knotts coached team and he does some special things. Of course, Knotts may have put him at WR or some kind of position to take advantage of his athleticism. I think he has a chance to play on Sundays in a few years.

Ed Lawing - Am I biased? Heck yeah. But the numbers speak for themselves i think. At the time, 1987 was the seventh highest single season passing year in the history of NCHSAA. It's still in the top 75. 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns at the time were huge. and to top it off, that kid was 5'8" 144 lbs. No joke, he was 144 lbs. He had a ton of weapons, and unblievable systeam and an offensive genious for a head coach. But the ball still had to come out of his hands.

Honorable Mentions - Phil Beam, Dean Benson, Robbie Wallce, Tracy Helms, and James Moore.
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/04/2010 9:25 PM

It's ok Ed, I think many of us would put you in the top five easily. Not sure I put Aikens in the top 5 as a quarterback or not. But I put him in the top 5 of players to play at harding. He was a special athlete. I think he's the best athlete in Charlotte the past few years. Only a few people around here actually saw him play because he played for Harding.

Eppley was awesome. He commanded the field like no other High School Quarterback I've seen. If he played in a modern offense today; his numbers would exceed those of Leak/Cox/LeMay. Too bad so far few here got to see him play.  Spurrier sure like him.

Dale Ross

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law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/04/2010 9:51 PM
So after Eppley and Liz, who do you have?

And i'll get into the actual game 'replay' tomorrow.
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/04/2010 10:52 PM

Can we accept what I've said about Walt? If you judge him overall as a football player/athlete he is one of the best Harding has produced. As a quarterback it is harder to judge.He would still probably be top five. I'd move that Lawing kid up one. I'd put Beam above Akiens as a QB.

Do you know who the QBs were in 72-74 time frame?

Dale Ross

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pepman Dale's right Hand Man All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:4270
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08/05/2010 7:37 AM
For Aikens, I'll tell you he didn't really start playing QB until the 3rd game of his junior year, and the kid was just a natural once he got the reps in practice. His junior year was his best one - that team was stacked and should have done better, losing the last game of the season to West Meck 27-25 cost them home field and a high seed. But anyways, his senior year....let's just say support all around wasn't as great or he would have really made a bigger mark than he did. He had an absolute cannon to match his athletic ability, and if he had time, he could pick apart a defense.

Houston's son played a couple of years back, started at West Meck and transferred to Indy, but he never saw the field. That kid was huge and had a cannon too....just got stuck behind some good talent.
Reach me directly: pepmancv@gmail.com We don't just report it. We ANALYZE IT!
law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/05/2010 8:36 AM

Yeah, i can accept what Dale said about Walt. I only saw him play in person a couple of times. But I could tell he was special. He was an exceptional athlete who happened to be needed at QB. I guess at the end of the day, you could swap him and me on my list simply on numbers. But if i had half his athletic ability and more size, I would have probably been playing in front of 70.000 on saturdays.

I didn't know the QBs in the early to mid 70s.  My brother graduated in '75.  I will ask him if he remembers.  Keep in mind that Dave Harris (RIP) had a dynasty at the original Harding way back in the day.  So we are probably leaving off guys that played for him.

Pep, I didn't know that Liz had another son. Of course, I haven't seen him in 20 years so that might explain that.

law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/05/2010 10:10 AM
Ok...back to the regularly scheduled programming...

When Garner broke through the paper banner their cheerleaders, it looked like the Dallas Carter team from Friday Night Lights (the movie of course). It didn't mean much to me at the time. But watching tape of the game after the fact, it was pretty cool. They were there on a business trip...and it was obvious.

We won the coin toss and elected to receive. They had an offsides penalty on the kick off and we accepted the penalty rather than taking the ball with pretty good field position. Ray Durham had been called up from JV (yeah, that's right...he played JV all season until the playoffs where he only returned kickoffs) and had returned the opening kickoff for a TD against Ashbrook. Dang...that guy could fly. So TK wanted to give him an opportunity to do the same thing. Well, as he caught the ball, he slipped and his knee touched down inside our 20.

First play from scrimmage. Right Opposite, 44/45 lead, Check with me, on Two. Again, we thought we could really run on them so our plan was to run a lot of checks at the line based upon where they lined up. We didnt really run a strong/weak side. We had two tight ends that could run, catch, AND block. I get to the line, and see that we are going to check to 45 on the left side. Boy, it was loud. I had to walk down the line to get the play to the guys. The paper estimated the crowd at 17k...but i would be surprised if there was less than 20k there. I turn, hand the ball to Byers, and BOOM. He's stuffed at the line. Their defense was FAST. A lot faster than you can see on film. We go three and out and punt. Garner ball on their 45 yard line. First play was an off tackle run. Our LB get's sealed off and Barbour is off to the races. Again, game film did him NO justice. 7-0 Garner.

We have the ball on our 14 yard line and Anthony Rice slips behind their backers and free safety. He read it perfectly and when i saw him break free, i knew it was going to be huge. I lofted the ball up and hit him in stride and he outran everyone to the end zone. I never saw him catch it because i got crushed and a Roughing penalty was called. Take that Garner. game tied 7-7. At the time, it was the longest TD pass in State Championship History.

We traded a few body blows until about mid way through the second quarter. Our defense did a nice job on Barbour. Their ends were putting a lot of pressure on me in the passing game. After watching the film it was obvious that they were looking to take our three step drop passing away. I had a couple batted down at the line from DEs breaking free and had taken a couple of big hits. And true to form, we called the Hook and Lateral about six minutes into the game. They had it covered, and even though i lead the receiver inside hoping he would not pitch the ball, he did, and fumbled. But we get a nice drive going and get inside their red zone. A bogus holding/illegal use of hands call on one of our WRs pushed us back outside the 10 yard line. His arm was extended, but the game film confirms he never even touched the defender. A couple of plays later, on 4th down, we have the perfect play called and a pass thrown to the end zone was dropped. A golden opportunity to take a TD lead and some momentum into the locker room at halftime evaporated. Still 7-7 at the half.

Coach Stewart's half time speech to Garner was more heated than the pre-game. and they came out swinging. Four plays into the 3rd quarter, Barbour scampers 55 yards for a TD. A couple of plays later, I get hit from the blind side and the ball floats in the air. One of their guys picks it off and goes 24 yards for another TD. It's 20-7...just like that. We move the ball into scoring range on our next drive, but stall around the 25 on 4th and 7. It's slipping away...we were able to move the ball on them pretty good...but just couldnt punch it in.

They blew the doors off us even more in the fourth quarter. A long drive (the only one of the night for them) ended in Barbour going in from four yards out. At this point, I am really pressing and I lock in on Rice in the flats. It was read perfectly by their DE and he pick-6s it. After a sack/fumble, Barbour goes 40 yards for another TD. It goes from 20-7 to 40-7 in less than three minutes of clock time. We had come back from 18 points down in the first round against Independence. But now we were down 33 freaking points to Garner with less than 10 minutes to go in the ballgame. it was over. and we knew it. TK called a lead option sometime in the second half and I remember thinking how odd that was. We hadn't run the option in probably 10 games and I just wasn't very good at it. They had us and our brash coach rattled. I knew it...and they knew...and I am sure TK knew it. I actually saw a similar look on his face last year in the Indy - Butler play off game. I hit a couple of inconsequential TDs to make the final margin 40-21.

So how did it come unglued so fast?

I mentioned us being over confident and taking them lightly. They were freaking fast and we couldnt see that on film.

They took us out of our short passing game. Darrin Hart, our best receiver, only had a few catches. We usually hit on four or five hitches a game...and then a curl or dig route. I am not sure we hit a dig route all night. I didn't have the arm strength to hit on 9 routes down the sidelines like Liz did. So we really had trouble stretching the field. But we had gotten so good and putting pressure on the defense with our running game and three step drops.

We got sloppy in our three and five step drop protection. Let me say this...our line wasn't necessarily the problem. We had gotten into some bad habits in blitz pick up that became evident after watching film of this game. Their DEs looked to pick up a key and came untouched several times. We got away with it before so it was not apparent to us to fix it. Garner exploited it.

Turnovers. This was the real killer. Six of them. You can't beat good teams turning the ball over. TK , mentioned in the papers that week that he was concerned about turnovers. In retrospect, i feel bad for our defense for putting them in that spot. They were out there trying to contain an all american and we kept giving the ball back to them. I didn't take care of the ball very well. I take full responsibility for that. My teamates looked to me for leadership and to direct our offense and I let them down in that regard. We moved the ball great. Outgained them on the night by over 100 total yards.

We had a saying. "Don't leave it up to 'what if'". And we did just that. What if we score before the half. What if we cut the score to 20-14 in the 3rd quarter. What if here...what if there. But i take nothing away from Garner. They were a deserving champion and they should wear their rings proudly. We were out played and out coached. If we had not turned the ball over so much, this could have been an epic battle that people are still talking about. But as John Fox says, it is what it is. They were the better team that night and several of us are left shaking our heads saying...What if...
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 11:32 AM

Sorry but I'll have to interrupt the regularly scheduled programming... lol

Here is  a what if... what if Aikens had QB coaching?... the best dual threat QB we saw 2000-2009 was Atonio Miller. What if Aikens had the coaching like Miller had? WOW... the kid would have been un-stoppable. Antonio was an awesome athlete but there was something special about Walt. He seemed to have all the same moves as Antonio but better.

pepman he had the potential to be one of the best QBs we've seen in Charlotte. But no one can take away the fact that is he one of the best athletes we've seen. I will be a little surprised if he is not playing on Sundays.

 

Dale Ross

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Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 11:35 AM

oh yea... I ask about QBs at Harding in the 72-74 time frame because I remember a few just cannot remember them by name. There was one in 74 that I seem to remember being pretty good. I am sorry I cannot provide more.

Dale Ross

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law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/05/2010 12:42 PM

No doubt about that What If Dale.  That is why i mentioned that i didnt think walt had the coaching or supporting cast.  The guy is an elite athlete and I'm pulling for him to play on Sundays.

Tango asked about the Post Game...so here goes...

My high school career was over.  poof...gone.  Not just mine, but several of my close friends.  We expected to win that game.  So i remember this awful empty feeling.  I took my shoulder pads off and just sat on the field near the sidelines.  I remember my mom came up to me and gave me a hug and said it was going to be alright.  I didn't believe her.  She was my rock...and had watched me get tossed around like a rag doll on the field during that season and never let me know she was freaking scared.  Anyway, i got stopped by a lot of friends, family, and fans of the program.  Looking back, it means a lot to me that they did that.  Some TV Cameras stopped me...wanted to do interviews.  I gave one...hate what i said.  I pushed others away.

When I got to the locker room, emotions were high.  Knotts was upset and pissed.  I guess i was the last one to get into the locker room and he gave me 'a look'.  But I chalk that up to the heat of the moment.  The bus ride back to the school was dead silent.  Not one word was uttered.  Tears were streaming down my face...but i was not outwardly crying.  Some of the guys were.  This hurt and we were just kids.  We had no idea how to react.  The feeling of losing to WC the year before was nothing compared to this.  And that was West Freaking Charlotte.  when we got back to the locker room, many of us removed our helmet decals as souvineers.  I still have mine to this day.

A story ran in the Observer on Sunday (two days after the game) about me.  It said that my performance was overshadowed by Barbour.  I ended up with some nice numbers...265 yards passing, three TDs.  I took a physical beating throughout it all.  But I threw four picks.  One was the result of being hit while throwing, but as i said earlier, the ball had to come out of MY hands.  Knotts made a comment to me at school the next week about the story...joking/asking me if i paid off the writer.  I'm still not sure what that was all about...but it doesnt really matter.   Emotions were still running high.  Someone (we know who he is) vandalized TK's trailer at the school by spray painting the score of the game in Garner Blue. 

His comments about me at the team banquet in a few weeks were all i needed to know.  He was awarding the offensive MVP award and he said that he saw his season flash before his eyes during a game agains ashbrook when i took a nasty hit and he didn't think i would get up.  I did.  Never missed a play.  Basically, he said that we wouldn't have been in the finals without me.  So between the handshake at Grimsley and these comments, I had what i needed. 

Davidson started calling shortly after the finals.  Wingate wanted me to play baseball and football.  I got a hand written letter from the coach at Western Carolina, but I wasnt near big enough to play there.  I was going to go to Davidson but didn't get accepted.  Missed my SAT score by 20 points.  I blame the University of Grimsley.  haha.  I decided to go play baseball at Appalachian State.  Not the best decision I ever made, but basically I had accepted the fact that I had played my last football game once all the strings had been pulled at Davidson and I still wasn't getting in.

It ended in bitter defeat, but I wouldn't trade that season of football for anything.  When I read the book Friday Night Lights, it was like they were following the 1987 Harding Rams to a degree.  But I tell you...the bonds and memories i made with a crazy bunch of guys and coaches runs deep.  Most people don't understand it.  When I go to a high school stadium...see the lights...smell the freshly cut grass.  Every time...a wave of emotion runs through my body.  It's unexplainable.

pepman Dale's right Hand Man All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:4270
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08/05/2010 12:50 PM
Lawing, that is some awesome stuff right there man, thanks for sharing
Reach me directly: pepmancv@gmail.com We don't just report it. We ANALYZE IT!
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 1:02 PM

You don't have to explain it Ed. I feel it every Friday night when I walk my fat butt into a stadium. I was a dime a dozen player but that doesn't take away from how I feel every Friday night. It is a different feeling that moves from deep within you.

Back to the what if... strange because I always tell kids don't ever be left with what if. Give everything you have every play so that you can never second guess yourself. you never want to be left saying, what if I had tried a little harder.There are no do overs. Once the play is past you it is gone.

Dale Ross

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law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/05/2010 1:23 PM

Thanks Pepman.  I appreciate it.  And thanks to Tango for asking.  I enjoyed opening up the memory banks. 

Dale, the What If has been with me since that season.  I try to be on the right side of it, but that season, there are a lot of them.  I should have watched more film.  I should have prepared better away from the field.  I should have spent more time with TK to understand his plans better.  It was a GREAT season.  But it could have been a little better and IF i had done those things, maybe I have the ring.

btango All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:3579
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08/05/2010 3:03 PM
Dale do you think Miller was a better dual threat qb than Carrothers?
btango All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:3579
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08/05/2010 3:23 PM
Damn that is some good stuff!!!!!

Wow Lawing if you guys would have won you could have made a good living on the speaker's circuit.

I called Dale after reading and some of this and wondered how would Charlotte football have changed if Harding won this game. Does TK stay at Harding and not go to WC?
btango All Conference All Conference Private Message: Posts:3579
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08/05/2010 3:30 PM
Ed do you a program of the championship game? If so could you scan the rosters and the team records and post that or may be email it to Dale? Would like to see that?

Did Garner seem or was bigger than Harding? I thought Garner seemed to be larger on the offensive line or maybe they were just able to make it look that way. I thought you were about 5'10 and 165.

I agree the stadium seemed to have more than 17k that night. It is listed as the all time NC record for a game at 18,000 estimated. I wonder if that is paid or includes coaches passes. I will try to check on that.
law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/05/2010 3:48 PM
Thanks Tango. My mom always told me I should have been a sports writer. I am a stickler for details, that is for sure. Once i got to thinking about the season and the game again, the details started flowing back. I did get my ring later that year...in baseball. that's another one that i can go on and on about.

Does TK leave if we win? Maybe. I saw a list of reasons he wrote after he left. he left them in the coaches office and i was over there working out over the summer getting ready for fall baseball. One of them was in big letters.

CAN YOU WIN A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP HERE? NO

if he had won one, maybe that isnt a factor. But he was tired of sending kids off to college only to have them quit. He and Venton Bell did NOT get along...which is ironic because Bell was his principal at WC later on and was probably a reason he left to go to Indy.

BUT, maybe he doesn't leave when he does, Harding continues it's city dominance well into the 1990s, and there is no telling what happens at WC after Hardin left. The talent level did start to drop off slightly...but you know TK always got the best out of his players.

Eventually, he would have left. He would not have stayed through the Magnet transition. But maybe he ends up at a different school and they are the talk of the town. Independence doesn't know how good they had it. They had a boat load of talent there through the years, but the won championships because of Tom Knotts.
law1ng2b Second String Second String Private Message: Posts:143
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08/05/2010 4:02 PM
There was not a Championship Game program. The finals were run much different back then. Heck, if we could have handled the crowd, the game would have been played on our campus. I will look through my stuff tonight and see what I have though. I have all the newspaper clippings and maybe there was something in there.

I don;t think they were bigger. But they were fast. We felt like we had more team speed than anyone in the state...but they were right there with us. And when they hit you...you knew it. I took one shot at the end of the first half where i literally went airborne. Their DEs were in my face ALL night. Trust me, i felt the effects of the physicalness of the game for several days.

One thing i left out. I mentioned that we thought we could run the ball on them. Well, we did. I think we had 160-something yards on the ground, and that included the 30 yards in sacks that i took (in HS, sacks are taken off rushing yards). Byers had over 140 yards of them. So think if we don't fall behind so quickly, we probably wear them down a little.

Oh...one other. Garner had zero yards passing. They threw the ball three times all night. One was a HB pass by Barbour that was picked off. The other two were just long bombs they threw to try to keep us honest.
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 4:06 PM
Posted By btango on 08/05/2010 03:03 PM
Dale do you think Miller was a better dual threat qb than Carrothers?


 It's always tough to compare two especially when they have different abilities. However, Yes I think he was. Carrothers had a LOT more around him than Miller had. Miller played on a team that dressed ~30 players. We could do a ton of what ifs with Miller. I would compare Carrothers more with Ben Williams. Miller could do all that and was bigger and had a stronger arm. The problem for Miller is that he was forced to do too much. Flowers did stuff with Miller that he could not do with Williams and I don't think he could do with Carrothers.

Now that said, Carrothers was one hell of a player.

Aikens on the other hand was special. His athletic ability was beyond the above mentioned QBs and all of those guys could make your head swim sometimes with the things they did. it's a shame you never got to see him play. You woudl have enjoyed his perfromance.

Dale Ross

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Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 4:19 PM

Lawing, I thought Garner's defense was WAY fast. made you guys look like you were playing in quicksand or something. And let's face it, Anthony Barbour was a special player. I cannot remember the game in the same detail as you. The crowd was huge. Only time I've seen a crowd that large was Butler Vs Independence Regular season when Butler jumped up 21-0... I've thought that game had ~18,000. THE game with Garner, looked like 20,000 to me.

You mentioned the drive down Wilkinson Blvd. Well at the time I lived off Wilkinson Blvd in apartments behind the Park 'N Shop. I remember the stuff Radiator Specialty Company did.  I wonder if anyone has pictures of that?

Did your bus trip to the stadium first go down Freedom or did you drive up Ashley to Wilkinson and then down? My guess is Allegany --> Ashley --> Wilkinson... or did you go Allegany --> Wilkinson? Just curious. When I was young, still attending school at Spaugh... we would follow the team bus to games on Friday night putting Marron and Gold stuff all over it.

Dale Ross

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Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 4:40 PM
FYI the team bus stuff us folowing was in the late 60's through early 70's when it looked like I would be attending Harding. It ended in '74....
Dale Ross

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westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/05/2010 6:24 PM
Not that anyone would care but there was a dream season in 1987 out on Tuckaseegee too. First time in school history to make the playoffs in a season we were picked to go 2-8. WC was down that year which made our game with Harding all that more unforgettable. I walked on at App. the next fall and made the team which was no grand feat considering they needed scout team guys. I saw Ed a couple times that year and remember thinking how much better he was than the guys we had at QB. Being a little shorter would have hurt him but man he was accurate.
westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/05/2010 6:36 PM
And I was at the State Championship game too and if there was one person there there was 20,000. I remember the USFL played an exhibition game there in 1983 I think which the attendance was listed as 23,000 and the stadium was just as full that night.
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 6:43 PM

Some of us cared dude!

Dale Ross

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westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/05/2010 6:47 PM
I know Dale but they are few and far between!!
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 6:50 PM

I wish we had more West Mecklenburg people here. Wix reads but will not post. Evans has disappeared. I am going to start a thread about West Mecklenburg dream season... how you tell us what it was like to be the first team to make the playoffs?

Dale Ross

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westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/05/2010 6:54 PM
By the way Old Man has the West Meck/Harding '87 game on VHS. WTVI used to do a game every week and show it on Saturday and Tuesday night. It's good stuff. You can see how slow one white boy can be and also see Knotts with his hair and his BIKE coaching shorts!!
westmeckindian4ever First String First String Private Message: Posts:518
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08/05/2010 7:00 PM
Man I wish Terry would post That would be some great stuff to read. Story of my life!
Dale Ross Site Admin Private Message: Posts:25901
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08/05/2010 7:00 PM

westmeckindian4ever Can you YouTube that game?

Dale Ross

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