By Steve Williams
High school football teams usually have only five home games during the regular season each year, so it is a special occasion each time one is on the schedule.
A lot of folks behind the scenes help make it happen, too!
You got to have a chain crew on the sidelines to assist the TSSAA officials on the field. And in the press box, there’s the public address announcer and scoreboard operator who keep the fans and everyone informed of what’s going on during the game and at the event.
Game Day positions like these and others at each school may be filled by persons who have been doing it for years and The Knoxville Focus would like to recognize these “longtime helpers.”
The Focus sought this information recently from the schools’ athletic directors and head coaches.
WEBB SCHOOL: Wade Mitchell is part of a veteran Game Day crew. A former head basketball coach and head baseball coach at Webb, Mitchell has been the clock and scoreboard operator for the football program for 36 years, according to David Meske, the Spartans’ head coach since 1985.
Webb’s Game Day crew also includes team trainer Lisa Schutt (30 years), Dr. Naylor (team doctor) 28 years, Jean Helbig (concessions) 23 years, Shelley Collier (game manager) 21 years, John Tatgenhorst (chains) 15 years and Doug Bright (W.O.W. network) 14 years.
Bright created the W.O.W network, also known as Webb on the Web. It includes two clubs (Sports Broadcasting and Broadcast Journalism) for both Middle and Upper School students.
SOUTH-DOYLE: Fans of the Cherokees have heard Robby Howard’s voice at their home games since the fall of 1992. The longtime South-Doyle baseball skipper also was the public address announcer the last few years Doyle High was open before it was consolidated with South-Young High.
Howard has plenty of help in the press box. Ed Irvin was a spotter for Howard for 17 seasons and has been the scoreboard operator now for three years. Kenny Norris has been a spotter for Howard “the whole time” and even helped build the press box.
Ron Hickman has filmed games for Coach Clark Duncan the past 15 years and also did it before Duncan arrived at S-D.
Hickman, who teaches art and is tennis and bowling coach at South-Doyle, also “heads up the press box crew,” said Howard, “setting things up for the media and others, and then films the game up on the roof.”
CENTRAL: Snapper Morgan has been a PA spotter for 24 seasons, with JB Mize sitting beside him doing the announcing for the last 22 of those seasons.
Central also has a veteran chain crew, including Lem Cox (20 seasons), Johnny Raley (16 seasons), Tim Snyder (16 seasons) and Jason Duncan (10 seasons), reported Athletic Director JD Lambert.
You can’t leave out David Wininger either when talking about those who have assisted the Bobcats’ football program for a long time.
David is a 52-year-old “ball boy” who has been on the sidelines getting in the pigskin to TSSAA referees for years. Many refs consider him the best at what he does. He started out as “water boy” in 1988.
HALLS: Rodney Duncan just completed his 20th season as public address announcer for the Red Devils’ program, said AD Meagan Booth. She also pointed out that school secretary Kim Watson has been selling game tickets for 23 years.
Head Coach Jeremy Bosken said all those who assist “are a huge part of a Game Day experience and a very important part of the Halls football family!”
TSD: Head Coach Jordan Cooper praised the efforts of two folks. Tim Moody has been the Vikings’ PA announcer for over 20 years and also sings the National Anthem before every game. Jeanne Fair has been the “gate keeper” for many years and done a “wonderful job” on game days, said Cooper.
GRACE CHRISTIAN: “We put a lot of time into the program to make Friday Night Lights happen at GCA,” said Gregg Bostick, Director of Football Operations.
Chuck Morris is in his 10th year as public address announcer at the Rams’ home games, noted Bostick.
THE KING’S ACADEMY: Athletic Director Matt Mercer says Jimmy Hayes has been running all of TKA’s athletic concession stands for each home game and for each sport. “He is a gem of a worker and we are blessed to have him!” added Mercer.
KARNS: The Beavers’ chain crew may have more years of service than any other on the local scene. Dode Gordon, 78, has put in “about 40 years” and Dave Roberts has worked around “35ish,” said Dode. Rick Dailey, Wayne Bell and Bill Gordon, Dode’s son, also have put in 20 to 25 years.
“I started working when Karns played at the old field,” said Dode, who now is a “sub” in the five-man crew in case “somebody’s not there or needs to be out.”
Wayne’s height comes in handy for handling the down number box. Dave is in charge of placing the clip. Bill and Rick pull the chains.
All of them graduated from and played football at Karns, except Bell, who went to West High.
Karns also has veterans working in the press box, including clock and scoreboard operator Dean Nelson (42 years), PA guy Andy Griffin (11 years) and spotter Phillip Beeler (24 years).
SEYMOUR: Charlie Householder has been the Eagles’ public address announcer in football and basketball for a dozen years. He’s so good at it, the Tennessee Smokies’ baseball club once asked him to be their “backup” PA guy.
FARRAGUT: Ken Couch has been working on the Admirals’ chain crew since 1982. Couch’s main duty now is operating the new LED down marker.
Couch said Britt Limpus also has been on the crew over 20 years, Mark Mowery over 10 years and Ricky McCullom about 10 years.
Coach Eddie Courtney also has a couple of veteran “camera guys” filming the Admirals’ games. Eddie Turpin, who is best known as a TSSAA baseball and softball umpire and assigning officer, is in his 28th season filming from atop the pressbox, while Buddy Canupp films from the end zone.
CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: For years Larry Holden was the “stat guy” for CAK football and basketball, then last year he took up the task of overseeing Game Day Operations for the Warriors.
“Larry does everything from taking care of the opposing team and hosting the officials to emptying the trash cans,” said Head Coach Travis Mozingo. “I think you’d be hard pressed to find an individual who works as hard as he does to make everyone’s Game Day experience better. I think he works harder than I do on Game Day!”
Holden, said the CAK coach, has been with the football program six years and at least that long with the basketball program.