Prep Football: Common Sense makes the picks
Salisburyís football team may win 99-0 tonight at outmanned, overmatched Winston-Salem Atkins, but it will still be an honor for the Hornets to step onto a football field with the Camels.
Atkins owns one of the richest athletic heritages in the state, and the timing couldnít be better.
A week ago, the Hornets celebrated their athletic roots, welcoming back members of Boydenís 1955 and 1957 NCHSAA state championship teams and J.C. Priceís 1940 and 1952 teams that won state crowns in the NCHSAC, the organization for the stateís all-black schools in the days of segregation.
Back in the day, Atkins was Winston-Salemís version of Price. Atkins wasnít Winstonís only black school, but it was the first one. Atkins turned out amazing athletes. The Camels crushed New Bern West Street (1953) and Durham Hillside (1959) to claim a pair of NCHSAC football titles.
If you watched the NFL in the 1960s and early 1970s, youíll remember Carl Eller, the Minnesota Vikingsí All-Pro defensive end. When the Vikingsí feared defense was known as ěThe Purple People Eaters,î Eller was doing a lot of the eating.
Eller was a product of Atkins High.
One of the ends for Atkinsí 1959 state championship football team was also a towering 6-foot-6 first baseman as well as the schoolís hoops star. His name was Harold Hairston.
If you watched the NBA in the late 1960s and early 1970s, you remember Harold as ěHappyî Hairston.
In 1971-72, when the Los Angeles Lakers won 33 straight games on their way to the NBA title, Hairston, the power forward, grabbed over 1,000 rebounds. He and center Wilt Chamberlain made the Lakers the only NBA team ever to boast two players with more than 1,000 rebounds in a season.
When the UNC Tar Heels reached the Final Four in 1969, they played Purdue in a semifinal.
UNC fans will remember that Rick Mount bombed in 36 points in a blowout of the Tar Heels. They may have forgotten Mountís teammate Herman Gilliam. He was driven, flying around defensively, soaring at 6-3 over UNCís towering front line for eight rebounds and dishing out seven assists.
Coming out of Atkins as a tremendous student as well as athlete, Gilliam had been recruited by dozens of colleges ó none of them in the ACC or SEC. Gilliamís pro career, mostly with the Atlanta Hawks, was lengthy, and he scored 6,252 points.
Gilliamís best friend at Atkins was Talmadge Hill, a three-sport whiz as a baseball shortstop, basketball guard and football quarterback.
Catawba fans would get to know Hill as ěIke,î an electrifying runner/receiver/returner who was the Indiansí Jackie Robinson and changed Catawba sports forever.
Hillís freshman season (1965), Catawba traveled to Frederick College, and coach Harvey Stratton was informed blacks were not allowed on Frederickís field.
ěThere will be one,î Stratton answered, ěor there wonít be a game.î Hill played. Catawba won 42-7.
Hill said no to schools such as Purdue and Michigan State to come to Salisbury because he wanted to make a difference. He accomplished that before he headed to the NFL.
Atkins has quite a history.
When a new technology magnet school opened in Winston-Salem in 2005, the name chosen was Simon Green Atkins Academic and Technology High School, a tribute to the original Atkins, which opened in 1931.
Who was Simon Green Atkins? He was the man who started Slater Academy. We now know Slater as Winston-Salem State University.
The picks werenít very good last week ó 5-2, with misses on A.L. Brown-Porter Ridge and Carson-Robinson. The season record is 18-5.
Salisbury 56, Atkins 6
Cheering for the Camels to get on the scoreboard.
West 21, Statesville 10
Should make it 27 straight in the NPC.
Carson 29, East 7
Cougars should be angry after letting one get away.
S. Stanly 12, North 6
Could be wrong. North has had the Bullsí number.
W. Iredell 35, South 14
Too much speed.
A.L. Brown 38, Robinson 14
Too much Washington.
Davie 27, Thomasville 24
Always a great matchup.