Editor’s note: This is Part I of the Hall of Fame Banquet story. Please see Part II in Friday’s edition with more photos included.
Family and Rebel Pride were the main themes on Saturday night, July 26th, as 15 new members were inducted into Franklin County High School’s Football Hall of Fame.
Quarterback Club president Vance Pituch kicked off the evening with some opening remarks, putting into the forefront what would be a recurring topic throughout the night, “family.”
Pituch used a quote from the popular Disney movie titled “Lilo and Stitch” to help explain what the historic night was partially about.
“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind—or forgotten.” Fictional character Lilo Pelekai says in the movie, which Pituch also said in his opening statement.
Pituch also cited a recent statement Coach Carr said in an interview with the Herald Chronicle.
“We are trying to bring the old to the new. We want to bring the football history from the boulevard to the new field. It’s the same Rebel football, we’re just trying to make a connection between the two,” Coach Carr stated prior to the Hall of Fame induction.
Pituch then handed things off to the evening’s master of ceremonies, voice of the Rebels, Johnny Hand.
Hand directed the remainder of the evening, providing kind words and smooth transitions between inductees.
All 15 members of the Hall of Fame played or coached at the old Franklin County High School on the Dinah Shore Boulevard spanning between the years of 1950 to 1996. This class is the second to be inducted into the Rebels’ Hall of Fame, the first four were inducted in 2010.
First on the night’s course of inductees was Pete Holmes, a coach from 1950-1963. Unable to attend due to physical limitations, his wife Elizabeth Holmes graciously accepted his award.
Although not related by blood, it was made clear in Holmes introduction that the next inductee was like a son to the Holmes family.
Rodney Rogers, who passed away in late September, was a player from 1958-1961. Pete and Elizabeth Holmes took Rogers in during his freshman year, and he stayed throughout his high school days.
Rogers’ wife, Janis Rogers, accepted his award and further echoed the significance of the Holmes family to her late husband.
Next to be inducted was the late Doug Pittenger. His daughter, Kristen Huff accepted the award on her father’s behalf.
Many stories were told throughout the night of Pittenger’s fiery attitude and on-the-field toughness. His brother, Ronnie Pittenger, even stated that Doug was once ejected from an inter-squad game when he played for Austin Peay State University.
Ronnie also told a story of the time Doug was ejected from a game, then changed his jersey and returned during the second half, before getting caught in the fourth quarter.
The next of the inductees, Greg O’Neal would be the first of four members of the 1966 Rebel’s team, and also would bring another recurring topic of the night to the surface.
O’Neal was a quarterback for the Rebels from 1965-67, battling what could have been a career-ending injury his sophomore year and returning to lead a Rebel’s team that was back-to-back conference champs.
Now an attorney, O’Neal accomplished several accolades during his playing days that extended into college, but was quick to mention that a very bright era in Rebel football also had it’s accomplishments off the field, when in 1966 the school integrated.
“One of the proudest things that I have, and has always been a part of Franklin County football…we were there when we integrated in 1966, and we didn’t have any problems with our integration,” O’neal said when accepting his Hall of Fame induction plaque.
He further elaborated, saying, “Coach Bolin and the other coaches brought those guys in, they were part of our family, they were part of the team, we didn’t have any dissension, and I think when I look back on the high school career I had, besides the wins and all the other stuff, that’s one of the things I’m proudest of as anything else.”
Longtime contributor Danny Smith was next to be inducted. Smith served as the Rebels statistician for an astonishing 46 years, from 1966-2012, missing just four games in that span.
Smith was quick to mention that he still has all of the stats saved if anyone needs them.
Bill Rudder was the next to be inducted. He followed an outstanding high school career from 1966-69 with an equally impressive college career at the University of Tennessee.
Lettering at UT from 1971-73, Rudder played full back totaling 1,260 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns in his three-year stint as a Tennessee Volunteer.
Rudder joked that the Rebels ran the “anti-spread” offense, following the remark by a joke that garnered several laughs.
“Our game plan was, sweep right, sweep left, sweep right, sweep left, and if we wanted to confuse them we’d run sweep right, sweep right.” Rudder joked.
Rudder moved from tight end to tailback in high school, which would end up being similar to his fullback position in college. He again joked on how the transition happened.
“Coach, I know both the plays, let me play halfback,” Rudder joked again followed by a room full of laughter.
An interesting moment in Rudder’s induction speech was when he proposed the Quarterback club consider another member for induction next time around.
“Charles Sons Sr. really gave us a lot of press, he was great for all of the players. He pushed us and I think helped us make a lot of the state teams with what he did. He would be a good person to be recognized too in the future, please give it thought,” Rudder said of the longtime Herald Chronicle editor and publisher, now deceased.
Jimmy Moss was inducted as a player from 1966-1968, but also spent several years coaching at Franklin County. Moss coached fellow inductees Jeff Walker, Barry Corn, and Cos Dematteo.
Moss received a liver transplant on Dec. 29, 2013, that saved his life, his son Jeff Moss mentioned in his introduction.
Beginning a football career in 1962 at Clark Memorial in the seventh grade, Moss extended his playing days through college where he initially attended the University of Tennessee.
Eight more players were inducted during the night. Read about them in Friday’s edition of the Herald Chronicle.