Friday Football Fever: London’s Legend: Phil Hogue
By Mike London
Phil Hogue sits with his wife and grandson and watches K.P. Parks roll every Friday, and it takes him back to his own glory days at West Rowan.
When Parks scored six TDs against Northwest Cabarrus in 2007, it cost Hogue a share of a school record, but he isn’t complaining.
“K.P. is great,” he said. “And I hope this is the year West finally wins it.”
There were a handful of fine backs in Rowan County this season, but Parks was a clear-cut No. 1.
But in 1974, Hogue’s heyday, the competition among county backs was fierce and the talent deep. East had Rick Vanhoy, Randy Fowler and Kizer Sifford. Salisbury had Leonard Atkins and Tom McDaniel. North had Mayhew Cuthbertson and Mark Sturgis. West had Hogue and Clark Pharr. All nine had at least 500 rushing yards in a 10-game season.
From 1974-1976, Fowler, Atkins, Sturgis and Hogue broke their school’s career rushing record.
The Post’s three all-county backs in 1974 were Hogue, Fowler and Atkins.
In 1975, it was Fowler, Atkins and Sturgis. Vanhoy was All-State and a Shrine Bowler in 1975, but not all-county. That’s how stiff the competition was.
“We all knew each other and you’d see who could get the most yards,” Hogue said. “You’d look at the paper on Saturday and figure out what everyone had done. But a lot of things were different then. Kids play longer now. Back then, if you had it won, you came out.”
Hogue was a sophomore in 1972 and had his moments as a cornerback.
In 1973, his junior season, Hogue played both ways for coach Benny Robbins. He rushed for 850 yards and joined North’s Jimmy Heggins and Salisbury’s Powell Adkins as all-county running backs, but his fondest memories are defensive.
Mostly he remembers the North Rowan game. West hadn’t beaten the Cavaliers since 1968, and North’s Heggins, who would go on to star at Florida State, was the county’s marquee player.
“North had Randy Hutchins, a good quarterback, but we knew if we could stop Heggins from getting outside on us we could beat them, and that’s what we worked on all week in practice,” Hogue said.
It paid off. West won 20-14.
One of West’s linebackers that season was Ralph Ellis, who has been one of Scott Young’s defensive coaches at West for many years.
“Every time I get with Ralph we still talk about Heggins and that North game,” Hogue said with a laugh. “Every time I run into guys I played with at the barber shop, I bring up that North game. I don’t get tired of talking about it.”
As a senior halfback in 1974, Hogue was the workhorse for the Falcons. He carried 221 times.
The Falcons were snakebitten early. Perhaps because the Post had picked them to win, they dropped consecutive tight games to South Iredell, North Rowan and West Montgomery.
Hogue rushed for 140 yards against West Montgomery, but the Falcons let a lead slip away.
Hogue caught a TD pass against Mooresville, but the Falcons lost to fall to 0-4.
But the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Hogue led a turnaround that began with a 20-13 victory over South Rowan
The Falcons’ sixth game was against West Iredell, a brand new school going through typical growing pains, and Hogue made history against the Warriors.
West Iredell was outscored 186-0 in its first five outings that season, and the tally jumped to 249-0 after it dealt with Hogue and the Falcons. Hogue had a five-TD night in a 63-0 victory. He was the first Rowan athlete after consolidation and integration to accomplish that feat.”West Iredell wasn’t very good, and we had a good offensive line,” Hogue said. “I probably could have scored eight TDs.”
Since Hogue’s huge night, Ernie Peace (1982), Lamont Smith (1994) and Wade Moore (2005) have scored five TDs in a game for the Falcons. Parks produced his six-TD game last season against Northwest to break the record and added a five-TD game against North Iredell this season.
Hogue had a strong finishing kick in 1974.
He had 21 carries for 141 yards in a victory over North Iredell and 22 for 118 to help beat North Stanly.
East Rowan beat the Falcons to knock them out of playoff contention, but Hogue carried 24 times for 107 yards.
The final game of West’s season and Hogue’s career was against strong North Davidson. Hogue had a lot on the line. He was chasing 1,000 yards and the county scoring title, and he was trying to hold off Fowler, Vanhoy and Cuthbertson for the county rushing crown.
He got everything he was after. He scored three touchdowns as West beat North Davidson 33-15 for a 5-5 season and knocked the Black Knights out of the playoffs.
Hogue finished as county scoring champion with 17 TDs, and he earned the rushing crown with 1,073 yards.
He was the first Falcon to top 1,000 yards in a season.
While Hogue is remembered as the county’s top rusher in a banner year for backs, he also was the point guard for the 1972-73 Falcons, one of the most successful basketball teams in county history.
That Harold Higgins-coached team, with Allen, Simmons, Paul Drechsler, Doug Wilson and Johnny Ellis, lost its opener to A.L. Brown, then ran off 24 straight victories ó a school record at the time ó before losing to Shelby in the playoffs. The Falcons were 16-0 in the NPC.
“That team would walk into the Christmas tournament at Catawba and not even be playing that night and people would still get up and applaud,” Hogue said. “That’s when you know you’re good.”
Ralph Ellis was a reserve on the 1972-73 team, but Hogue said his friend played a role everyone appreciated.
“Ralph got us out of a lot of sprints with free throws,” Hogue said with a laugh. “He’d shoot 10, he’d make 10, and we’d all go home.”
Hogue got the chance to see his boys, Denon and Tim, follow in his footsteps at West.
Both were standout basketball players in the 1990s, and Tim set records on the football field as a quarterback.
Parks has taken the total offense records away from Tim, but he still holds West records for passing yards in a season (2,163 in 1994) and a career (4,967).
Phil Hogue plans to be in the stands tonight, giving the Falcons helpful advice, and he’s proud of all the winning that followed the lean times.
“I tell those guys at the barber shop to look in the paper and see who’s got those headlines now,” Hogue said. “It’s West. Always West.”