Do You Remember?
   Cyclones vs Vikings 1972


   It's D-Day in Bristol -- the biggest game of the year for the Cyclones.
   Twenty-nine years ago Tennessee High was the defending state champions and Elizabethton undefeated going into the game that was played up as the biggest contest in high school football of 1972.
   Over 15 major college scouts were at the game and the pressbox was filled with reporters.
   Two hours before the game started fans poured into Brown-Childress Stadium to watch No. 1 Tennessee High take on the state's No. 2 Elizabethton Cyclones.
   People were buying tickets as early as dinner. When the gates opened it was like a stampede, with fans running to the stands to hold not only seats, but throwing blankets on the ground for friends and relatives.
   Coach Willie Church stated: "It was the best high school football game I've ever saw. It was my first two years of coaching and we had some great football players."
   Coaching the Cyclones were head coach Lynn Goddard and his staff of Larry Alderson, Sid Hathaway, Lewis Gass, and Church. For some players it was as memorable as the assassination of President Kennedy or Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon. Tennessee High was coached by John Cropp and had a 17-game winning streak.
   Elizabethton had 11 seniors on the team Joe Alexander, Don Buckles, Jim Bunton, Ron Davis, John Norris, Jim Presnell, Danny Jenkins, Dale Fair, Mike Wood, Jim Spencer and Ron Davis. They had less than 35 varsity players.
   John Norris was 'Betsy's quarterback, and he had deceptive speed and the strongest arm in the conference. Dale Fair had rolled up significant yardage in every game with his powerful running style.
   Don Buckles pounded opponents from the fullback position, and Joe Alexander was the center. Joe's recollection of the pep rally was that there was electricity in the air. A warm, beautiful, autumn day that makes you happy to be alive.
   David Bibbe was a brilliant little quarterback for the Vikings, and George Heath and Gil Kyle were the skill players. Larry Silcox was their wide receiver and Greg Jones was tight end.
   Both teams had already met at the jamboree, playing to a 14-14 tie in one quarter of action. As the gates were opened fans raced all over Brown-Childress stadium to find seats in the bleachers, on the old rock wall or even on the banks and close to the playing field.
   Photographers lined the sidelines, watching and waited for the warm-up drills. Betty Barker was preparing between 8 and 10,000 hot dogs in the 'Betsy snack house.
   Coach Goddard was finishing off about his third pack of Camels as the Cyclones entered the field and started the pre-game. A sign of relief came over the tense Cyclones when a voice from the crowd yelled "Johnny U."
   Ron Davis sent the opening kickoff into the end zone and the game was underway. The yelling Cyclone fans were quickly hushed for on the first play from the 20. Bibbe took the snap and faked a handoff to George Heath, raced to his right on the option and then pitched to Gil Kyle, who went 80 yards untouched for the score. Heath added the extra point and with only fourteen seconds gone in the game the Vikings were up 7-0.
   The rest of the first quarter was a hard-fought up and down the field. In the early part of the second, Elizabethton was backed up to the 13-yard line and was forced to punt, giving the Vikings good field position on the 41.
   From there, on the first play Bibbe was stopped for no gain, then he passed to Greg Jones, who lugged the ball down to the eight yard line. On the next play Heath ran up the middle into the end zone and added the extra point for a Viking 14-0 lead with 8:41 left before the half.
   After Elizabethton took back over, quarterback Johnny Norris passed to Dale Fair for 14 yards, but on the next play 'Betsy fumbled and Bristol took over.
   The Cyclones held their ground and forced the Vikings to punt, and Fair took the punt on the 25 yard line, weaved his way through heavy traffic and at midfield broke through the opening and raced 75 yards for a 'Betsy touchdown. A clipping penalty that was never seen on film and never explained was called and the score was negated, and Elizabethton started on the 33.
   On Elizabethton's second play Jones intercepted a pass and ran it back to the 23-yard line. Tennessee High moved the ball down to the 12 for a first down, and on the next play Bibbe scrambled through the line for the score.
   Heath booted the PAT and the Vikes were up 21-0. The only good thing that happened for Elizabethton was it recovered a fumble on the nine right before the half to keep the Vikings out of the end zone and run out the time for the half.
   During the half very few words were spoken by the coaches and players.
   "Everyone knew the game plan was solid and we had to eliminate our mistakes," stated Alexander. "There was no panic only a quiet confidence."
   The second half was a different game as Fair, Bunton and Buckles chewed up yardage and a Norris pass to John Goodwin was good for 23 yards. Buckles scored on a 1-yard run and kicked the extra point to bring the Viking lead down to 14.
   After the kickoff and two running plays, Steve Cannon fell on a loose ball to give the Cyclones possession at the Bristol 29. On the second pass play Norris found Art Smithdeal, who dragged Vikings players down to the four-yard line. The pass was good for 28 yards.
   Norris then ran wide left to paydirt. The Vikings jumped offside on the extra attempt and the Cyclones pick up two when Norris again went around the left end to raise the Cyclone score and pull them within six at 21-15 with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
   In the final series of the game, it looked like the Vikings would score, but at the two yard line Steve McKinney stepped in front of a Bibbe pass and stopped the Viking threat with eight minutes left in the game.
   The Cyclones worked the clock with a running attack from Fair and Buckles. In no time there were two minutes left and Elizabethton had the ball first and goal from the Viking four-yard line. On the first play Fair tried up the middle, but was stopped for no gain. On the second play Buckles carried the ball between the left tackle and end but lost a yard.
   Norris tried a keeper that had worked all night, but was thrown for a six-yard lass back to the 11. On the fourth try Larry Silcox intercepted the ball and ran it back to the 50, ending Elizabethton's hope for the state title.
   Bristol went on to win the state championship and was voted the number one high school and the 1972 National Champions.
   For Elizabethton, Dale Fair and Danny Jenkins went on to play for the University of Tennessee, Mike Wood went to the University of South Carolina, Johnny Goodwin and Johnny Norris, along with Ron Davis, plated for Virginia Tech and Don Buckles played at E.T.S.U.
   Tonight the Elizabethton Cyclones have a chance to get revenge and replay that game for the '72 Cyclones. It also is billed as one of the biggest games for the Cyclones this year just like it was in the '72 game.
   So if you believe in spirits, you know Coach Goddard and Coach Hathaway are already on the Cyclone sideline ready for what they have waited for all these years. REVENGE and three little words! REST IN PEACE!