The Gary Coaldiggers capped a tremendous season Veterans Day at Gary Memorial Stadium by rolling over archrival Welch 44-12 before an overflow crowd. Gary, in winning their tenth game of the season, is now the McDowell County and Area football champion. Next week, November 21st the Big Red Machine gets the chance to latch on to the Double-A State championship if they beat Oceana at Bluefield--and after Wednesday's pounding of Welch there's not much doubt in anybody's mind who the next State Champs will be.
Playing inspired football from the start it didn't take the Coaldigger machine long to get started. Steve Thornton hit halfback Chester Thomas on a swing pass on the first play from scrimmage and the fleet senior raced through Welch's secondary for a 62 yard touchdown. Thornton rolled out and hit end Steve Swayne for the two point conversion to give Gary a quick 8-0 lead with just 21 seconds gone in the first quarter.
An aroused Gary defensive unit threw Welch back for two straight losses and the Maroon Wave punted out to the Coaldiggers. The Maroon Wave then forced Gary to punt out and started marching downfield from their own 25.
"Bo" Isabelle, Billy Walden and Donald Foddrell started slashing off the yardage with Foddrell taking the ball on Gary's 9 yard line and carrying to the one. Foddrell then fumbled the football into the end zone and Calvin Green pounced on the loose pigskin to give Gary possession once again. With Gary taking over on their own 20, the Coaldiggers started marching goalward again.
Scatback Eddie Reeves carried to the 40 and Thomas boomed on to the 35. Two quick thrusts put the ball on Welch's 22 yard line and from there fullback Phil Dillon raced to the two yard line to set up Gary's second TD. Thomas then dove over from the two to give Gary a 14-0 lead. Thornton pitched out to Reeves for the PAT and the Coaldiggers held a 16-0 lead, with 10:52 to go in the second quarter.
Welch again came marching back downfield with Holland bringing the kick back to the 50 yard line. A 15 yard penalty against Gary put the ball on the 35 of the Coaldiggers. The Maroon Wave drove down to the 15 and the Gary defense held to end the first half.
Camper received the kickoff to open the second half and he ran the ball back to Welch's 45. A 15 yard penalty put the ball in Gary's territory but on the second play from scrimmage Calvin Green pounced on a Welch fumble.
The Coaldiggers then capped their third TD of the day as Thornton put on a beautiful fake and scrambled into the end zone with 6:57 left in the third quarter. Callahan failed on the PAT and Gary held a 22-0 lead.
Welch came back to score their first touchdown of the day after taking over on their own 46. A 5 year penalty put the ball on Welch's 41 yard line. Quarterback Jerry Lambert hit Isabelle at the 20 yard line and the sophomore back raced into the end zone for Welch's first score of the day. The PAT failed and Welch trailed 22-6.
Welch's defense then threw Thornton for one of the few losses on the day and forced big Mike Tolley to kick. On the punt a Welch player couldn't handle the ball and Oakley Dalton jumped on the football at Welch's 35 yard line.
It only took two plays for Gary to strike again when Callahan raced through the middle of Welch's defense for a 22 yard TD. The PAT failed but Gary held a 28-6 lead and the chant started coming stronger from Gary's student body that they wanted that "barrel".
Both teams then exchanged hands with the football to end the third quarter of play. You could tell that Gary wanted this victory badly as the Gary Memorial Stadium fans were roaring on every play as the fired up kids of Sid Cure weren't to be denied in their finest hour.
Gary's Rick Nogosky intercepted Lambert's pass early in the fourth quarter but Welch dug in and held Gary on their own 15 yard line. Welch, trying hard to get back on the scoreboard was denied again as Reeves snagged off a Lambert toss on the 45 yard line and raced down to the 17 yard line. Gary was hit with another 15 yard penalty and the ball was brought out to Welch's 30.
Thornton tossed a strike to Eddie Joyce that carried down to Welch's three yard line. Thornton carried the ball in himself from that point and Gary led 34-6. Thornton hit Swayne for the PAT to up Gary's lead to 36-6 with 8:37 left in the final period.
Welch marched downfield again in the dying minutes of the game but another pass was knocked up in the air and Gary's Mark Wilson came down with the football.
Fullback Phil Dillon, who had been injured earlier in the game, came back for a 5 yard pickup to Gary's 17 yard line. Thornton handed the ball to Callahan and the speedster sidestepped two Welch defenders and raced 83 yards for Gary's final TD of the day. Thornton hit his favorite target of the day, Scott Swayne for the two point conversion and Gary led 44-6 with 3:42 left in the contest.
Welch put one more tally on the scoreboard as Lambert on a fourth and long yardage situation hit Isabelle from the 13 yard line for the TD. The PAT failed and Welch trailed 44-12 with a minute left in the game.
Gary then killed the clock by falling on the football to capture one fo their biggest victories over Welch since the two started playing each other.
Gary finished the game with 487 yards total; the Coaldiggers ground out 372 and had 115 more in the air. Gary's defense again did itself proud by holding Welch to 103 yards on the ground and 105 yards passing.
You could name quite a few individuals that were standouts for Gary. Thornton had one of his best days in running and directing the attack for the Coaldiggers, again that blazing speed paid off with Reeves, Thomas, Callahan and Dillon doing a superb job.
Defensively, everywhere you looked a star was shining for Gary. Ricky Nogosky, Clifford Christian, Mike Tolley, Jerome Bell, Calvin Green, Eddie Joyce, Reeves, Williams all played a tremendous game.
Coach Sid Cure commented, "We're tickled to death with the victory. I thought the big play that started things off was Thomas making that first touchdown. It really sparked us. Also, holding them on the one foot line was a big boost. It was a tremendous effort on the part of all the boys and a well-deserved win."
For Welch it was a disappointing day, for the coaches, players and fans, but Gary put on a tremendous show for the overflow crowd and now fans in this grand area will start looking forward to next year's game.
Nogosky led the "Gravediggers" with 12 tackles as he once again proved his All-State credentials. Tolley, Reeves, Bell and Christian had 10 tackles each on the day.
Leading the way for Welch on defense was C. D. Oliver, Don Foddrell, John Yokosuk, Charlie Blevins and Bobby Baker.