Friday Night Legend: Pete Stout
By Mike London
Pete Stout strolled into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame last Saturday, capping an athletic journey that started when Haw River High put a great basketball team on the floor in 1954.
Earl Ruth was Catawba’s basketball coach, and he was fascinated by Haw River’s 6-foot-5 center. Ruth recruited most of the team, figuring he’d get the center. It was a decent plan. It didn’t work.
“The center ended up at East Carolina,” Stout said. “Coach Ruth got stuck with two of the little guys.”
Stout was of those little guys. He lettered four years for Catawba in basketball, logging 348 points, but football became his best sport, much to the delight of coach Clyde Biggers. Playing halfback and defensive back, the basketball recruit blossomed into team MVP. He was Honorable Mention Little All-America in 1956.
Stout remembers the Lenoir-Rhyne games because those Thanksgiving battles were reasonably close to life and death.
“The last football game I played was a 75-0 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne (in 1957),” Stout said. “We had to cancel three games because of a flu epidemic, and we hadn’t been on the field in a long time when we played them. And they were good.”
Stout waited nearly three decades for revenge, but he got it as Catawba’s head coach. In his final game at the helm of the Tribe in 1986, the Indians beat L-R.
Stout knew in high school where he was headed. His football coach at Haw River was Bud Phillips, who went on to a legendary career at Burlington Williams and Greenville Rose.”Coach Phillips was way ahead of his time,” Stout said. “We were running the split-T at Haw River when most were using the old single-wing. I knew I wanted to coach and I prepared myself at Catawba. I listened to our defensive coaches. I sat in on quarterback meetings. I kept all my playbooks.”
After graduation, Stout returned home and assisted at Burlington Williams. Then he was offered a head job at a tiny Alamance school called Altamahaw-Ossipee.
A-O is an elementary school now, but it’s also a shrine. It’s where Stout, at age 23, became a head coach for the first time. It was the 1959 season. His first team was 4-4-1. It was a start.
Stout had Altamahaw-Ossipee winning big by the time a consolidated school ó Western Alamance ó opened in 1962. He was hired, and Western Alamance piled up titles.
By the spring of 1966, football at Salisbury’s Boyden High, proud state champions in 1955 and 1957 under Bill Ludwig, had bottomed. From 1960-65, the Yellow Jackets won just 11 times.
J.J. Knox, superintendent of Salisbury city schools, announced the hiring of Stout in April, 1966. He was a whiz at organization. He put together a staff. He two-platooned, put his studs on defense and ran the ball.
Boyden lost to A.L. Brown in his debut, but his team tied North Rowan in his second game and beat South Rowan 6-0 in his third. Boyden put a 6-3-2 season in the books, a decent first season.
Salisbury’s black school, J.C. Price, was strong when Stout returned, but black students had a choice of schools, and the trickle of black athletes suiting up for Boyden in 1966 became a powerful tide by 1968.After the doors closed at Price in the spring of 1969, Stout’s team was a powerhouse, capable of taking on anyone. It was a time of change. Stout and his staff, which included Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Pharr, were instrumental in making it happen peacefully.
“Athletics played a big role in the integration process,” Stout said. “At a lot of places, they had trouble. We had very little. I’d credit James Bridges and Fred Evans, the Price coaches. They could have made a lot of problems. Instead, they made it easier.”
In 1970, Boyden was loaded. Talented quarterback Kenny Holt and sprinters Aubrey Childers and Roger Jackson led a blistering offense. Massive tackle Robert Pulliam anchored an immovable defense.
Those legends headed to Shelby to face 2,000-yard back Marcus Mauney. Boyden was 10-0-2 when it took on the Golden Lions for the WNCHSAA title.
Boyden took the opening kickoff and drove inside the Shelby 10. Holt had to go out to repair his helmet. There was a fumble. The game turned. Shelby won 13-6.
Crushed with disappointment, assistant coach Charlie Little told Stout, “If we can’t win with these guys, Pete, maybe we can’t win.”
That game marked the last time a team known as Boyden took the football field. In 1971, the school was christened Salisbury and its athletic teams were Hornets. Red was added to the colors to reflect the heritage of the Price Red Devils.
The Hornets tied South Point in 1971 for a WNCHSAA co-championship. Then Salisbury beat Watauga for an undisputed crown in 1973.
In 1974, the Hornets returned to Shelby, their shoes painted bright red to answer Shelby’s gold cleats, and this time they won 14-3.
“The people at Shelby always fed the visiting team sandwiches after a game, but I told Coach (Gerald) Allen we’d already made plans to stop at a steakhouse on the way back so if it was OK with him we’d just go on,” Stout said. “Coach Allen said they were gonna be pretty upset if we didn’t eat their sandwiches. We didn’t want to make ’em any madder than they already were so we ate ’em. But we still stopped at a steakhouse coming back. We ate twice.”
Stout coached his final game at Salisbury in 1975. Salisbury was 8-1-1 but didn’t make the playoffs.
“The SPC then was just a very challenging league,” he said. “Every school had a great program.”
Stout’s record at SHS was 83-20-10 in 10 seasons and he never lost to a county foe. But then he headed back home to rebuild Burlington Williams, and several loyal staffers went with him.
“My mother had passed away, but my dad was still there in Alamance, and it was a good teaching situation,” Stout said.
Stout constructed a monster, taking Williams to back-to-back 3A championships in 1980-81 and 43 straight victories. He was 71-12 during his stay.
Stout’s next challenge was to revive Catawba’s fortunes. He piloted the Indians from 1983-86, but wins proved elusive.
“I really enjoyed coaching college talent because every player was the captain of his high school team and was all-conference,” Stout said. “We could identify that talent, but recruiting was a challenge, we were inexperienced at it, and we made mistakes. We did make progress as far as the program getting the financial support it needed.”
After four seasons at Catawba, Stout realized he was still years away from getting the program where he wanted. He was also four years from having 30 invested in the state’s high school system and qualifying for full retirement.
He took the head job at Morganton Freedom in the spring of 1987. He coached four years and was 32-12. His final record as a high school coach was 234-63-14.
Even after his 30 years had been served, Stout lived and breathed football. In the summer of 1991, he became defensive coordinator for coach Mike Carter at Mooresville. Carter had played for Stout at Western Alamance and had assisted him at Williams.
While he was coaching at Mooresville, Stout got to know a defensive assistant named Joe Pinyan, and Pinyan eagerly soaked up knowledge from a master.
“When the Salisbury job came open (in 2003), I encouraged Joe to apply,” Stout said. “He was ready.”
Pinyan has proven a worthy pupil. He’s revived the SHS program by organizing, two-platooning, putting his studs on defense and running the football. Now the Hornets travel to Shelby for their first meeting with the Golden Lions since Stout’s team dined twice in the same night 35 years ago.
Pinyan still gets advice from Stout and called him earlier this week.
“I told Joe to punt on fourth down and to throw a few passes,” Stout said with a laugh. “Salisbury has played a lot of good teams this year, and that will help them. They’ve got a chance.”