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A Wilson County Historical Association marker recognizing the Fike High School Cyclone football teams for their three state championships was unveiled Tuesday.
Under coach Henry Trevathan’s leadership, teams ascended to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A championships in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Trevathan was not able to attend the unveiling because of a scheduling conflict, but he did see the marker later Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m stunned. I can’t believe it. I love it,” Trevathan said by phone.“I can’t believe Wilson has done this.”
Team members from the championship squads were on hand as the veil was pulled off the marker in front of Fike High.
“It is a wonderful thing. It really is,” said Dan Killebrew, a member of all three teams. “All these people that followed us and played with us, it was a magical time. There has never been anything like that since then.”
Carlester Crumpler, a running back for the teams, attributes the triple-title run to great coaching, great discipline among the players and a fundamentally sound team.
“We weren’t nearly as big as many of the teams we played physically, but we played harder physically and were certainly tougher physically,” Crumpler said. “It wasn’t about the numbers. It was about the coaching and how well we were able to execute what was given us.”
Crumpler carried the ball as a running back for all three teams.
“I had big enough holes to run past everybody because I was pretty fast,” Crumpler said. “Other than that, it was jut a great team mentally and physically.”
It was often Killebrew who was challenging potential tacklers in Crumpler’s path.
“All I did was block,” Killebrew said. “He always had a good head of steam and he always knew how to step one way or the other way and then I would take the guy the other way and then he would be gone. That’s what happened most of the time.”
Crumpler credits much of the Cyclones’ success to Trevathan.
“We are commemorating the accomplishments of a man that did something really special here and we’ll keep talking about it and we’ll keep doing something about it as long as we live because no one at this point has reached a milestone that we have reached as a time in ‘67, ‘68 and ‘69,” Crumpler said. “We feel that to be pretty special. Yeah, some teams across the state have come and done the same things, but certainly it was unprecedented for the city of Wilson and no one has been able to match that at this point.”
Those in attendance also included former team members Stuart Walston, Phil Lamm, Sarvis Bass, Doug Boone, John Anthony and George Wilkerson.
Dr. Tyson Jennette, team physician, said the ‘68 and ‘69 teams were something special.
“I think it was really the most remarkable of the three teams,” Jennette said. “They just got better and better each year and the teams got stronger. That year, we only had 27 players. It was a strong, good group. They came along harder than any of the others to win that championship.”
Jennette remembers that game like it was yesterday.
“We went down to Charlotte. Everything was going wrong down there,” Jennette said. “He (Crumpler) forgot his shoes. I sent somebody down to a sporting goods store and we got some shoes for him. In the second half, he gains 140 yards. We were down 14-0 at half and we win 27-14. It was a great year.”
Perry Morrison, president of the Wilson County Historical Association, said the three championships were “unprecedented in North Carolina history because it had never been done.”
“I am surprised to learn that you are not 10 feet tall,” Morrison told the former players in attendance. “I was 5, 6 and 7 years old when all this was happening and I was sure that I was going to meet a group of giants.”
Morgan Dickerman, chairman and CEO of The Wilson Times, said the Cyclones teams put Wilson on the map.
“Wilson was known for two things — tobacco and Cyclone football,” Dickerman said. “Growing up, kids like me looked up to you all. You are my heroes and you were the heroes of other children growing up in Wilson at the time. You made some of us want to play Fike football because of what you all did.”
Gary Farmer and Stuart Walston got the ball rolling to have Trevathan and the teams recognized.
“There’s two things going on. There is a marker and there is a monument,” Farmer said. “They are putting the landscaping around the monument as we speak. The monument was set up with a heavy crane because it is granite and bronze. The hurricane’s not going to move either one of these things.”
The monument was to be dedicated on Friday, but because of Hurricane Dorian, that ceremony has been pushed to Oct. 11.
“We are so excited and it is just a great time for Daddy to be here to be a part of it,” said Trevathan’s daughter Lisa Briley, who confirmed that her father will be present for the Oct. 11 dedication.
Fike’s game against Kinston has been moved from Friday to 7 p.m. today.