Campbell, scholar athletes honored at annual banquet

By Ivan Sanders

STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   Dream big, and don't be a small dreamer.
   Those were the words given to 21 area football scholar athletes by Steve Kiner, captain of the 1969 University of Tennessee football team and the 18th Volunteer football player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, as he addressed a large contingent of area high school and college football players at the 11th Annual Awards Dinner presented by the Tri-Cities Chapter of The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame at the Holiday Inn in Johnson City on Tuesday evening.
   Even though football season is long gone, the awards were a finalization to a magnificent year for local football teams and especially those that were invited to attend the banquet and receive a plaque given by the foundation and presented by John Robert Bell, former coach and athletic director at ETSU, and current ETSU football coach Paul Hamilton.
   Also honored on this special night was Hampton High School head coach James Charles Campbell, more recognizable by the name J.C., for the "Contribution to Football Award" as he was presented the award by Hunter Jackson, founder of the Tri-Cities chapter.
   Kiner is still remembered for his storied career at the University of Tennessee where he was selected as consensus All-American for the 1968 and 1969 season, leading the team in tackles both years.
   The Volunteers went 26-6-1 while Kiner was in the orange and white, where he led UT to three straight wins over Alabama and also finished ninth in the Heisman Trophy balloting from his linebacking slot. He participated in the 1970 Senior Bowl and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the same year.
   "There are a lot of opportunities out there for young people so don't quit your dreaming," said Kiner. "This recognition is a great stepping stone in your life. It has been a good part of the dreams that you've had to this point in your life."
   Added Kiner: "Listen to your mentors and parents. My family was an important piece of the puzzle for my life. Football was a great vehicle for me and I can only imagine that your families and friends are a little proud of you tonight."
   The athletes that represented Carter County came from all five of the high schools and were sponsored by Steve Grindstaff and his organization at Grindstaff Chevrolet. Grindstaff has always been a long time supporter of the area high school sports programs and their academic accomplishments.
   Representatives of the local schools were as follows: Cloudland - Mark Barnett, Hampton - Corey McKinney, Unaka - Joey Parlier, Elizabethton - Walter Brown, and Happy Valley - Cody Cannon. All of the players were instrumental in their schools success over the last four years and were selected based on academics, football performance, and leadership on and off the field.
   Campbell's statistics are phenomenal for his coaching career. Coming to Hampton in 1963, he was named coach in 1968 and has compiled a 224-143 career record including seven conference championships, 18 post season appearances, 22 winning seasons, 8 time conference Coach of the Year, and taking his squad to the state quarterfinals in '79, '83, and '96.
   For Campbell, the award was a special tribute considering the fact that he now joins the ranks of Dave Rider, Ernest Rasar, and Lynn Goddard as recipients of the award.
   "Charlie Bayless, who is approaching 80 and still coaching, is a hyper person and I am too," said a smiling Campbell after the banquet.
   "I don't know what you think of retiring, but it seems that by seasons end you feel tired and ran down and then a new bunch of boys come in and you get attached to them, the season starts and comes to an end, and a new bunch comes in and you get attached to them and it just keeps going over and over again."
   Added Campbell: "Coaching is not a job. Coal mining is a job. Pouring concrete is a job. Coaching gives old men a chance to be around young boys while they play. It keeps you jumping, keeps you hopping you know."
   Campbell, who says he will coach at least one more year, doesn't know if that will be the end of his coaching road, but being in pretty good health so far may keep him running the Hampton boys through summer drills a little while longer while keeping his youthfulness rejuvenated in the process.
   Mike Lunsford's Cloudland Highlanders were also recognized from a team aspect as going undefeated throughout the season until being defeated in the state playoffs.
   Five area players were also given monetary scholarships ranging from $500 up to $2000. They are as follows: Robert Davenport - Sullivan South ($500), John LeSueur - Sullivan Central ($750), Lance Abernathy - Cherokee High School ($1250), Bart McMillin - Tennessee High ($1500), and Joe Watson - Greeneville High ($2000). The foundation awards the scholarships based on 40 percent academics, 40 percent football recognition, and 20 percent leadership with the players submitting applications for the foundation's consideration.
   A humorous part of the evening was shared by Kiner as he told of walking off the field with Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant of Alabama and questioning him about the poor play of his team against the Vols over their last three meetings.
   Kiner said that Coach Johnny Majors told him later how much he appreciated what Kiner did as Alabama preceded to beat U.T. 10 straight times after that.
   The STAR offers congratulations to all the Carter County players honored, Coach J.C. Campbell, and the Cloudland Highlanders for their recognition at this year's awards ceremony.