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Editors note: Part I, covering the first seven inductees, was published in Tuesday, July 29th, edition of the Herald Chronicle
Last to be inducted of whom played on the historic 1966 team was Dwight Gray.
Inducted as a player from 1966-68, Gray was part of the first class from Townsend High School to transfer to Franklin County once the school integrated.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but as Greg (O’Neal) said earlier, it was family,” Gray said of transferring to Franklin County High School from Townsend. He continued by saying, “The team, with open arms, welcomed us.”
Upon graduating from Franklin County in 1968, Gray attended Middle Tennessee State College, now known as Middle Tennessee State University, and graduated in 1972 as a second lieutenant in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Gray went on to serve for 25 years in the military.
A man of not so many words truly let his play speak for itself when it came time for Terry Vanzant to be inducted.
From 1975-77 Vanzant gave opposing defenses headaches, running circles around attempting tacklers, racking up massive amount of yards and touchdowns in the two-year span.
After thanking the quarterback club for having him, and appreciating the honor, Vanzant ended by saying, “I’m going to make this short and sweet, thank you everyone for coming.”
Although Vanzant wasn’t one to talk of his self much, plenty of other inductees did that for him.
Inductee Barry Corn had an interesting take on just how good Vanzant was.
“If they say, ‘give me the top-five running backs,’ I’ll tell yea, you got Terry, and then you put a gap; everybody else step back,” Corn said of Vanzant.
Gene Snead Sr.
A coach from 1979-99, Gene Snead Sr. was referred by many as not only a great coach, but also a great motivator.
Not much of a screamer, coach Snead was an eternal optimist on the field who was always looked at the bright side of things.
Gene Snead Jr. accepted the award in his late father’s honor.
The elder Snead and his family moved to Franklin County in 1976 from Miami, Fla., to earn his first coaching job at South Junior High.
The elder Snead coached for several years with the next inductee.
Harold “Red” Roberts
Known by most as “Red,” Harold Roberts was the head coach at Franklin County High School from 1977-99.
To this day Roberts draws a lot of respect, which was shown as soon as he walked on stage. Roberts said, “everyone stand up,” and everyone did.
Despite the notion that he may have been joking, most the audience remained on there feet for a few minutes until he mentioned everyone could sit back down.
Franklin County’s Hall of Fame induction of coach Roberts was his third induction into a Hall of Fame class.
The two other inductions were to Austin Peay University as a player, and as part of a state championship team at his former high school, but he said that this was still a special honor.
“This one is right up there with them all, because it represents what everyone’s been talking about tonight, and that’s family,” said Roberts of his induction into Franklin County’s Rebel football Hall of Fame.
Roberts and his family spent 20 years in Franklin County, and to this day, call the area home in conversation.
Jeff Walker was inducted as a player from 1980-82 for coach Red Roberts’ Rebels.
Walker was another Rebel with not many words on the night of his induction. Walker did say thank you to the quarterback club, and he also had a few words for his former coach.
“Thank you coach, I’ll never forget you, we had a good run, those two games (pause) … I wish we could have got to state,” Walker said to Roberts while on stage.
The next inductee mentioned Walker as “the apex player,” saying that he gave 110 percent at all times.
Barry Lydell Corn
Corn definitely left his mark on Franklin County football.
Anyone curious can just look in the record bookswhere Corn’s name is still regularly seen.
Primarily known for his running prowess, Corn lettered for Franklin County’s Rebels from 1982-84.
Modeling his game after Vanzant, according to Corn, he excelled following an equally impressive junior high career.
Stanley Bean was Corn’s coach at North Junior High, but Corn said that Bean was more than just a coach — he was also a mentor.
A team player, Corn thanked several former teammates.
“I’m going to give thanks, because it’s about me, but it’s not, football is a team game,” Corn said in his opening thanks.
A standout Rebel from 1987-89, Jeremy Nunley went on to have a standout college career at the University of Alabama where he played defensive end.
Nunley was part of the 1992 Alabama tide team that rolled over all it’s competitors on it’s way to an undefeated 13-0 season and were named Consensus National Champions.
When he took the podium Nunley, like most, thanked the Quarterback Club and spoke about several of the inductees.
He mentioned that the players before him were his heroes, and that Friday nights were his ESPN.
“Before I ever aspired to be anything in life, I aspired to be a Franklin County football player.” Nunley said of his childhood dream of playing for the Rebels.
Andy Davis hit the nail on the head as he introduced the last inductee of the night, saying with a name like “Cosmo,” you don’t have to do much else to stick out.
Cosmo DeMatteo, known by most as Cos, stuck out for his play on the football field much more than his name, however.
An All-Conference quarterback for the Rebels, DeMatteo made the most of his time in high school career, from 1994-96, before going on to have a decorated college career at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Switching to wide receiver in college, DeMatteo excelled, eventually being named to the All-Century team at UTC.
He has spent several years coaching and has also supplanted his name into some Hollywood circles, appearing in movies such as Disney’s “Invincible” and the remake of “The Longest Yard.”