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CHHS state champs to be honored

An informal reunion of the Charles Henderson High School 1980 football state championship team will be held Friday, Oct. 29. Team members and coaches will be recognized at the game Friday night between the CHHS Trojans and the Enterprise Wildcats.

All of those who played on championship team, managers, cheerleaders, band members and faculty are invited and encouraged to attend.

The reunion will get under way at 4:30 p.m. Friday at The Pines Restaurant on the square in downtown Troy.

The group will sit together at the game and team members and coaches will be recognized at midfield at halftime.  Plans are being made for the group to get together after the game.

“We’ve tried to contact as many people as possible and there’s still time to contact team members,” said Bill Rice, Jr., who was a sophomore on the state championship squad. “So, we’re asking anyone who has contact information on any member of the team, to contact me at 334-315-2583 or Barry Tucker, who was our quarterback, at 334-828-1201 so we can get in touch with them.”

This football season is the 30th anniversary of the 1980 CHHS state football championship; the school’s only state football championship team.

“This is a very special anniversary for all of those involved,” Rice said. “And, it’s special for the school. This team might have been one of the best 3A teams of all time.”

The team was coached by Jay Jefcoat and was undefeated with a 13-0 record.

“We defeated Hartselle 14-7 to finish the ‘dream season,’” Rice said. “Back then, there were only four athletic classifications. Teams like Opp, Andalusia, Elba, Greenville, Eufaula and Stanhope Elmore all fielded excellent squads but fell to the Trojans.”

The team, led by a large and veteran senior class had a bone-crushing defense and high-powered wishbone attack.
Coaches who are expected to attend are Jefcoat, Mike Hogan and Rick Moody.

Rice said, hopefully, others coaches will be able to attend.

Senior leaders on the squad included Tucker, Jerry Beverly, fullback; Joey Dennison, lineman; Kent Anderson, receiver; and defensive stalwarts, Willie Collins, Paul Shiver, Jacob Money, Todd Rainey, Kenneth Felton, James Stringer, Kenny Keith and Michael Thomas.
The football state championship is not only the only one in CHHS history but in Troy High School history.
“I think there were about 85 teams in 3A football that year,” Rice said. “Today, to win an AHSAA championship, you only compete against about 60 or so teams in your classification.

And, the state championship didn’t come all that easy for the Trojans.

Early in the year, Ozark was surprisingly strong and it took overtime for the Trojans to claim victory. Elba was at the top of its game and played tough with its star running back, Don Horstead, who went on to play for the University of Alabama.

Rice said the Trojans had to come from behind in the first round of the playoffs.

“Eufaula jumped on us for two quick touchdowns and then there was the goal line stand the preserved the victory against Greenville,” he said.

CHHS played Hartselle for the state championship in Hartselle.

“The final score was 14-7 but the game wasn’t that close,” Rice said. “The Trojans ran up and down the field on Hartselle but we made some mistakes that kept them in the ballgame.”

Winning a state championship was a thrilling moment but Rice said what still sends chills down his spine is the memory of riding into the Hartselle stadium on a Greyhound bus and receiving a standing ovation from the fans that packed the Troy stands.

“It was truly a special team and an unforgettable year,” he said. “This is not going to be a big, elaborate reunion but some of us felt that we at least needed to make the effort to get together on the 30th Anniversary of that achievement.”