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Hall of Fame: J.C. Price inducts a new class

Staff report

While the glory days of J.C. Price football were in the 1940s and early 1950s under legendary coach S. W. “Prof” Lancaster, the Red Devils also put together some solid teams in the 1960s.

When J.C.Price inducted 10 new members into its Hall of Fame in ceremonies held on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Miller Recreation Center, most were football standouts from the first half of the 1960s.

The new inductees: Martha W. Fleming (Class of 1949), David E. Smoot (1956), John F. Stout (1960),  Harry L. McNeely (1961),  Melvin D. Lentz (1961), Murrell P. Graham (1963), Richard Johnson (1963),  Charles Partee (1963), Rufus Agnew (1964) and Michael McMahon (1964).

Lentz was inducted posthumously. He was inducted for his basketball exploits. He had some big games in 1961, including an 18-point night against Winston-Salem Carver.

Lentz’s daughter, Peggy Martin, accepted the honor.

Agnew and Graham live in Florida and were unable to attend the ceremonies. All the inductees who were present praised their teachers, their coaches and their experiences at J.C. Price. All of them still cherish their days in the black and red.

• Fleming was a basketball star for the Red Devils.

• Smoot was part of some of the most powerful teams in Price history. He would have been a freshman on the 1952 team that won the 2A state championship for black schools.

That team went 9-0 with seven shutouts. Lexington Dunbar managed to score  six against Price, the only points the Red Devils allowed in the regular season. In the state title game against Pattillo High from Tarboro, the Red Devils took a frigid, 13-7 decision.

Ironically, Smoot is now a retired teacher in Tarboro.

• Stout told the audience about his meteoric rise from benchwarmer to standout.

• Price had some struggles during McNeely’s senior season — that would’ve been the fall of 1960 — but the Red Devils, who went 3-5-1,  tackled an unbelievable schedule that included some much larger schools — West Charlotte, Asheville Lee, Greensboro Dudley and Winston-Salem Carver.

Price  closed that season by mauling Reidsville Washington, 53-0.

• Price’s 1962 football team did some amazing things. McNeely, Partee,  Graham, Johnson, Agnew and McMahon all would have been on that team.

That squad opened the season by smashing Burlington’s Jordan Sellars High, 82-0.

There also was an 80-0 thrashing of Concord Logan that year, plus a 48-0 pummeling of rival Dunbar High in East Spencer.

Graham was a monster for that 1962 team. He had at least two pick-sixes, taking interceptions all the way against Reidsville Washington and Concord Logan.

Graham was one of six in his family who played for Price.

McMahon, who lives now in Winston-Salem, always liked defense best and was recruited for the team by Lancaster and coach Fred Ponder.

Agnew and Partee also were fine basketball players. Agnew was the leading scorer in Rowan County in 1962-63 with 15.2 points per game and again in 1963-64 when he poured in 22.4 points per game.

Partee averaged 9.3 points as a senior.

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Raemi  Lancaster Evans  was presented with the J.C. Price High School Sports Hall of Game Founders Award for her positive impact in the Salisbury-Rowan community. She’s supplied many African American exhibits to the Rowan Museum.

“Raemi is revered and respected among peers in the community, made wonderful black history exhibits in our community,” said former Rowan museum director Kay Hirst. “So proud of her heritage, she always shared with others and continues to do so. Our community is fortunate to have her.”

Raemi Evans thanked the committee, congratulated the honorees, thanked all in attendance and stated how proud she was to be a Pricean.

The Founders Award was given in memory of Fred Evans, Rufus Little and John Mackey, three men who were instrumental in getting this Hall of Fame started years ago.

Fredrick W. Evans made the presentation. He remarked that even one of his professors in Chapel Hill was familiar with the records of Coach S.W.”Prof” Lancaster and of the records set by the Red Devils.

Wayne Woodruff displayed articles, pictures and other items from Price’s sports programs through the years.

Carl Marlin Jr. presented each honoree with a plaque and a certificate and offered stories about each of them, some humorous, some serious.

Last year’s Community Service Award was presented by Fredrick W. Evans. It went to the late Floyd “Pee Wee” Kerr.

Marlin presided over the program. In addition to Marlin, the Hall of Fame committe includes Earl Blakeney, Larry Connor, Brenda Cowan, Raemi Evans, James Hawthorne and Woodruff.

The attendance was the   best it’s ever been for the ceremony.

The program closed with a chorus of  the traditional Price school song “The Black and Red,”  and a benediction by  Reverend Cathy Marlin.

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