The Kings Mountain Herald … /
Oct. 4, 1984, edition 1 /
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Er Fp TE Ce
a a a I EN TI
Ta a ee
SE A GP A I Gp
A A Ar TA ae
‘64 Team Planned To Win
By GARY STEWART
A football team which is strong at the skilled positions and has in-
telligent players who are close-knit and play as a team is hard to beat.
And that’s why Steve Baker feels the 1964 Kings Mountain High
team-which was KM’s last championship team-was so good.
The 64 Mountaineers won all 10 regular season games to win the
Southwestern 3-A Conference title before being upset 6-0 by a strong
Hickory team in the Western Association bi-conference championship
The team followed on the heels of a 1963 team which finished 9-0-1
overall and shared the SWC crown with Shelby. That string of 23
straight games without a loss (tracing back to the final three games of
the 1962 season) is a record that has stood for over 20 years.
The ‘64 team was loaded with individual stars such as quarterbacks
Pat Murphy and Richard Gold, running backs Baker, Ronnie Rhea
and Pat Hord, and linemen Hubert McGinnis, Jim Cloninger, Lyn
Cheshire, and others, but the Mountaineers gave up individual glory
for team honors.
“The most important thing about that team,” Baker says, “is that
everybody anticipated having a good team and we prepared ourselves
year round for it. We didn’t have weight programs back then. The
players just worked hard on their own. We were always thinking foot-
ball. We always felt like that if you believe it you can achieve it.”
The Mountaineers had only one close ballgame during the regular
season, that a 21-20 victory over R-S Central. During the first half of
the season when KMHS was playing some of the weaker teams, the
starters often sat out the second half after running up a big lead in the
first two quarters. :
“We had people with a lot of skill at every position,” Baker recalled.
~ “The line was always the key. They had a lot of quickness, good size
and were intelligent people. We had somebody at every position who
could do the job.”
The Mountaineers operated out of the Wing-T formation back then,
but Baker recalls a late-season switch to a pro set as being a big factor
in the team’s success.
“Coach Bill Bates went to the pro set to take advantage of the best
quarterback in the state, Pat Murphy,” Baker recalled. “We had
enough skill and intelligence to adapt to the pro set in just one week
and in a game that was supposed to be close, we beat a good Belmont
team by four touchdowns.”
Two other games stand out in Baker’s mind.
“The turning point of the season was the R-S Central game,” he
noted. “We had already run through six opponents pretty easily. We
played the best team in the conference. We won the championship but
R-S had the best personnel.
“The score went back and forth and we knew it was going to be a
matter of which defense had the characte: to stop the other offense
last. They had a big back named Buddy Green who had ran strong for
them all night and they were moving down field with us leading 21-20.
Hubert McGinnis gathered the boys around him. He knew we had to
-stop that drive. We stopped a back for a loss on a fourth and one, took
over the ball and ran the clock out. That made us realize that we were
destined to win the conference.” :
The highlight of the year came in the final regular season game
when the Mountaineers beat Lincolnton 24-6. Although Lincolnton
had lost one game and the Mountaineers were unbeaten, a Lincolnton
victory would have put the Wolves in the playoffs.
“All the other conference games were moved back to Thursday
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night so everybody could come and see us play,” Baker recalled. “Mur-
phy unleased his arm and we presented the pro attack and they
weren’t used to it. Our defense shut down their excellent running game
and we won by three touchdowns.
“For us, that was the highlight of the year,” he added. “We played
Hickory the next week for the biconference and were upset by an ex-
cellent Hickory team. You might say we were looking ahead, but ac-
tually, when we beat Lincolnton, nothing in our minds could top
Baker, who gained over 1,000 yards rushing that year, says he is
glad that the Mountaineer coaching staff put the team before in-
dividual honors. “If our coaches had wanted to build up any one
player, Murphy could have passed for 30 or 40 touchdowns,” he said.
“He was an excellent quarterback, passing for 15 touchdowns in five
Another big key, Baker said, was the fact that the Mountaineers had
second-unit players who could take over in case of injuries and the
team didn’t suffer any.
“A good example was our fullback, Pat Hord,” Baker said. “Coming
into practice that year, Pete Putnam, who was a returning starter at
fullback, went down with an elbow injury. Hord stepped right in and
we didn’t miss a beat. In that practice, that injury took the wind right
out of us. Our leader was down and out. But in stepped a man who
was able to fit right in. After that, we had the confidence that if
somebody went down, we had somebody else to take up the slack. If
Pat Murphy had gone down to injury, Richard Gold would have step-
ped right in and taken over. We knew that when somebody went
down, our season wasn’t gone. We had someone to take up the slack.”
“We had a lot of individual stars...guys who were authentic stars,”
- he added. “But we didn’t have a star system. Everybody knew that
they had to do their part. It was a team game.”
Baker said he’s been asked many times over the years if the 64 team
was the best one ever at KMHS.
“But I don’t like to compare teams,” he said. “To me, the 1979 team
which had Kevin Mack on it was an excellent ball team. It had a lot of
outstanding players. But the 1964 team stands out in my mind because
we had good quality people who were athletically skilled. That com-
bination is hard to beat. I consider myself very lucky to have played on
a team that didn’t lose for over 20 straight games.
“Members of that team were also very fortunate to have played for
coaches like Bill Bates, Don Parker and Bill Cashion,” he continued.
“They were good men and set a good example for us. It was not very
hard to find respect for those men. We needed that kind of good
leadership on and off the field.”
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