Friday Night Legend:
SPENCER — Bo Geter turns 60 in December, but he’s still on the football field.
Thursday, he was scheduled to officiate the Carson-Salisbury JV game at Ludwig Stadium. Friday, he’ll be one of the striped shirts at Thomasville’s Cushwa Stadium when North Davidson visits.
“I tell the kids that I’m a little slower than I used to be,” Geter said. “But I also tell them that I’ve got a 20-yard head start and I can still beat them to the end zone.”
Geter grew up in Heiligtown, north of East Spencer. His parents were factory workers, his father at North Carolina Finishing and his mother at a furniture plant.
Geter’s passion for football came directly from his mother, Vinnie. She loved those Johnny Unitas-John Mackey-Bubba Smith Baltimore Colts teams, and Sundays at the Geters were spent watching the NFL.
“The thing I didn’t like about the Colts was they lost to Joe Namath and the Jets in the Super Bowl when they were in the NFC,” Geter said. “Sure, they won the Super Bowl against the Cowboys a few years later, but they were in the AFC then.”
Geter played Little League football in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, and he was good enough to make the North Rowan varsity as a sophomore. Geter remembers playing against Salisbury defensive lineman Robert Pulliam, who would star at Tennessee. That’s something no one forgets.
“Robert was a gentle giant, but that was off the field,” Geter said. “On the field, he was going to beat you.”
North Rowan went 7-3 in 1971, Geter’s junior year.
“We had good coaches — Larry Thomason, Bob Hundley, Ralph Shatterly, Kelly Sparger,” Geter said. “Coach Thomason was highly intelligent. On Monday, we’d already have our blocking assignments down for Friday.”
For every good athlete there’s a season they’ll never forget. For Geter, it is 1972. As a senior, he paced Rowan County in rushing and scoring.
North Rowan was loaded in 1972, with two capable quarterbacks in Randy Hutchins and Ronnie Roberson and swift receivers in slotback James Peek and split end Melvin Dixon.
At the heart of the offense and defense were linebackers Geter and Jimmy Heggins. On offense, the 189-pound Geter was the fullback. Heggins, who went on to star at Florida State, played halfback.
The nine-team NPC had a five-team division and a four-team division. The two division winners met for the conference championship.
Mooresville and North Rowan -- members of the same division -- were both 6-0 in the league heading into their late-October showdown. The loser wouldn’t even make the playoffs.
“Mooresville had a really great team,” Geter said. “But that game still upsets me a little bit.”
The Blue Devils and Cavaliers got rained out on Friday and it was still too wet to play on Saturday. By the time the teams took the field at Mooresville on Monday, Oct. 30, nerves were frayed.
The Cavaliers were well-prepared and were allowing just 10 points per game, but you can never prepare for turnovers. Geter fumbled. Heggins fumbled. Mooresville’s offense, which put up 445 yards that night, couldn’t be stopped, and the Blue Devils built a 33-13 lead.
Geter led the comeback. He pounded into the end zone to cut the lead to 33-19. Then he intercepted a pass to set up another score, and the deficit was one touchdown.
North had the ball again late and was driving for the winning points when Mooresville’s David Jones picked off a pass at the Mooresville 3.
Mooresville then drove against the clock with the veer. On third-and-long at the North 16, Curtis got 8 yards for the first down. Geter can still see Mooresville fullback David Mullis breaking the next play for a touchdown. There were 21 seconds on the scoreboard. The Cavaliers didn’t make the playoffs.
Four days after Mooresville, North hosted Davie County and won 34-24 to finish 8-2.
Geter went to Livingstone and then to Winston-Salem State. He graduated from WSSU with a history degree.
He went to work for the Salisbury Fire Department in 1978, one of just three black firefighters in the department. He rose to battalion chief in 1989 and eventually retired after 31 years of service.
Geter’s love affair with high school football rekindled in the 1990s when his son was at West Rowan, and officiating offered a doorway back to the game. In 2007, he was part of the officiating crew when New Bern beat Independence in the 4AA state championship game in Winston-Salem.
Geter is a little slower than he once was, but even in that state championship game, he beat the kids to the end zone.