Holston High School senior Mike Wampler rushed for 225 yards and scored two touchdowns on the evening of Nov. 9, 1984, as the Cavaliers completed a perfect regular season and clinched the Hogoheegee District football championship with a 27-14 victory over Honaker.
The aftermath of that Friday night triumph produced a memory that is still vivid in Wampler’s mind 36 ½ years later.
“Following that game they gave us a little parade through downtown,” Wampler said. “There was a guy in town who owned a bunch of antique cars and we piled in those and rode through town. People were honking their horns and hollering. It was unbelievable.”
While a parade might not be possible in these times and the stadium will not be filled to the brim like it was then due to coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols, Holston still hopes history repeats itself on the gridiron as the Cavaliers can wrap up their first outright and undisputed district title since ‘84 with a victory this evening over Chilhowie.
“The fact that we have an opportunity to make history in a time where there are so many uncertainties and so many more obstacles than we are used to makes this season that much more special and it says a lot about the type of young men that we have,” said Holston coach Derrick Patterson. “We, as a coaching staff, are honored to be able to coach these guys. Their resiliency is pretty amazing.”
In 1984, Holston went 11-1 and finished as Region C runner-up under the direction of head coach Duane Alderman. Six of those victories were decided by 21 or more points.
In 2021, the Cavaliers have had a little tougher road made more difficult after a season-opening 24-20 setback to Grayson County.
“We began in the preseason explaining to our team what it would take to accomplish our goals for this season,” Patterson said. “We know how tough it would be to make the playoffs and we knew how competitive our district schedule would be this year and we wanted to help them understand that we had to create great habits in practice to give ourselves a chance to accomplish our goals. After losing the first game, we knew that every game we had left was pretty much a playoff game and our team has done a great job of handling that pressure to this point. We told them after that game to just to stay focused and keep working hard in practice.”
Holston (4-1) has reeled off four straight victories, including a 20-12 win over defending region champ Patrick Henry and a 30-27 triumph over Rural Retreat last Friday, a game in which the Cavaliers overcame deficits of 14-0 and 21-8.
“Playing close games is huge for our growth as a team,” Patterson said. “I think we have learned a lot from every game we have played and have done our best to improve on our weaknesses. In Week 1, Grayson ran the ball down our throat and we couldn’t stop them. We did a great job of not giving up and we had multiple chances to win that game and we just didn’t execute.
“We showed a lot of improvement from game one to game two against PH and last week against Rural Retreat showed how much heart our players have.”
Holston went 28-6 with two playoff appearances from 1982-84 after having just one winning season in the first 17 years after the school was formed from the consolidation of Damascus and Liberty Hall.
Holston was 0-10 during the 2015 season, but the Cavaliers have gotten better each season since. Patterson spent three years as an assistant coach on Jason Matlock’s staff and is in his seventh season leading the Cavaliers.
“Holston has steadily improved over the course of Coach Patterson’s tenure as coach,” said Chilhowie coach Jeff Robinson. “He has stayed the course through some lean years and has them in position to make some noise in the postseason. I have a lot of respect for the job he has done there.”
Chilhowie posted a 91-0 win over Holston in 1979 and the squad from Smyth County handily leads the all-time series, but there have also been some memorable matchups through the years between two of the charter members of the Hogoheegee District.
In 2013, the league title came down to a clash between Chilhowie and Holston in the final week of the regular season as the Warriors prevailed at home.
Wampler said the game he remembers most from that ‘84 season was the 12-7 victory over the Warriors in the third week of the season.
“Chilhowie was our biggest rival for years,” Wampler said. “It was such a tough, hard-hitting game. A lot of people might talk about Patrick Henry being the biggest rival for Holston now, but back then it was us and Chilhowie.”
The old foes could produce plenty of drama this evening as well.
“This game has always been a tough game for us,” Robinson said. “Throw out the records when we play. It is usually a hard-fought game and I expect this one to be no exception. Holston has a lot on the line. For us, this game is about pride.”
That 1984 team had plenty of pride and passion and was senior-laden.
Mike Wampler, Ronnie Deel, Jimmy Parks, James Blevins, Chip Crowgey, Mike Walker, Keith Cornett, Steve Barlow, Scott Kiser, Reid Barr, Tim Edwards, Tommy Musick, David Heath and Mike Wright were among the guys from that team longtime Holston fans remember. Holston assistant principal Don Blackburn was a freshman on that squad.
Current standouts like Quaheim Brooks, Trent Johnson, Jordan Ezzell, Logan Walden, Ethan Norris, Brycen Sheets, Lane Blevins, Dustin Bott, Dillon Bott, Brack Stamper and Tristan Allen have been the cornerstones of the current edition of the Cavs and can be part of their own district championship team this spring.
Holston won Region C, Division 1 titles in 2008 and 2009, but George Wythe won the Hogoheegee District championship during those seasons.
Five football players for the Cavaliers helped the school’s basketball team win their first outright district boys hoops championship since ‘84.
Tonight, the football squad at Holston will look to party like its 1984.
“Records are made to be broken or tied,” said Chip Crowgey, who started on both the offensive and defensive line for the ‘84 Holston Cavaliers. “Their success this season is a tribute to the hard work that the players and coaches have put in.”