Loudon Redskin Football History
by John Napier
The 1920's and 1930's
In 1923 Calvin Coolidge was sworn into office as President by his own father; Yankee Stadium opened in New York City; John T. Scopes was still two years away from infamy in nearby Dayton; and Loudon High School Redskins took to the gridiron for the first time.
Within a short period, Loudon had built a winning team. By 1927, they had established themselves as a peer with other strong teams in East Tennessee when they won seven games against two losses -- just four years into their existence. The 1927 Redskins handed shutout defeats to both Young and Kingston that year.
Coach George Epstein took charge of the team for one final season in 1928 to command a squad which was headed by captain Gordon Harris.
The season was highlighted by lopsided trouncing of both Wheat and Oliver Springs.
In what had to be one of the most concise clinics of defensive maneuvers, the 'Skins and the Tennessee Military Academy battled in the rain in Sweetwater and came away dead even; neither team had scored!
Later that year, Loudon's M.C. Anderson intercepted a pass against Lenoir City and ran ninety-two yards for the score. The intra-county rivalry was already stewing at that time, and the scored tottered back and forth between the two teams, but Lenoir City eventually prevailed.
The Panthers were becoming the Redskins' early nemesis, as they handed Loudon a rare loss in both '27 and '28. In 1929 Earl McCall took over the reins for Loudon with a squad which featured future Attorney General James P. Watkins, James Kline, D.F. Ferguson, and captain Ray Russell. One of the most memorable occasions of the year was going up against Etowah's Frank York who weighed more than 300 pounds.
Just as Loudon was getting better with time, Lenoir City's fortunes were beginning to diminish. In fact, when the two teams met for the intra-county match, the Panthers had yet to score all season. But the Panthers chose the county match up as the occasion to muster a little stored up energy, when Henry Foster made scoring passes to Toby Williams, Jack Babb, and future Knox County Law Director Clarence Blackburn.
The Skins' would now have to wait until the 1930's to avenge themselves against the Panthers.
As the calendar turned, so did the fortune. Although Loudon was in the midst of a rebuilding season in 1930, they and the Panthers were at a standoff on a frigid day, playing on a field that was rock-hard. Twice the 'Skins fumbled near their own goal as halftime approached. Once they held the Panthers on downs, and the second time they got the ball back when Lenoir City turned it over on a mix-up. The two teams broke for intermission with the score still nil, both sides.
Loudon quarterback Doodle Erwin booted the ball out of bounds at the Panther's one-yard line, which put Lenoir City 99 yards away, and unable to advance to the goal. Shortly after that, Redskins fullback John Campbell ran 19 yards for a touchdown and the game's only score, and Loudon had at last achieved inner-peace concerning the annual contest with their cross-county friends.
Red Greenway took over as captain in 1931, and in their third game of the season, the 'Skins took care of Maryville, 13 points to two, when Loudon relinquished the least worthy least frequent scoring in football -- a safety.
Now that they were primed for winning, the 'Skins annihilated Young the next week, twenty-six to nothing, when Ferguson scored three touchdowns.
One good shut out deserved another, and in the subsequent game, the 'Skins tagged a similar pasting on Kingston.
The next game was close, and it popped the Loudon bubble, as McMinn came out on top by a mere touchdown.
If the 1920's belonged to Lenoir City in the cross-county contest, it seemed as if the 1930's was starting to swing in Loudon's favor. Everyone at the time was expecting a Redskin victory in the intra-county contest of 1931, considering that a team the 'Skins had dealt a shutout, Kingston, had turned around and done just that to Lenoir City. It wasn't a cake walk, but it was decisive, nonetheless, as the 'Skins took care of the Panthers twelve points to zip.
Bob Custead scored in the first period to punctuate a forty-four yard drive the 'Skins put together on a steady march of a running game. Campbell scored the subsequent touchdown in the second period, for the dozen-point advantage at intermission. Loudon continued to threaten thereafter, but the Panther defense held tough, shutting out the 'Skins after the second period.
The Redskins defense had been even better this day, as the Panthers failed to break the scoring plane, and the two early scores by Loudon held up to preserve the cross-county win, two years running.
But it was the next year that was the watershed. In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt re-identified the political structure by ousting the complacent Herbert Hoover in a profound November victory. Just before that, George Herman Ruth had held up his fingers in Chicago signaling to his coach that he knew pitcher Charlie Root had two strikes on him. Sportswriters everywhere, in an effort to appease the Bambino, indicated that Ruth was "calling his shot," considering he lofted Root's next pitch into the centerfield bleachers.
There was no question who called the shots in Loudon that fall. The 'Skins trounced Lenoir City, as they went throughout the entire campaign without a single victory. Loudon's 1932 record was resembling a temperature chart of someone infected with blackwater fever; hot--cold--hot--cold--hot.
The opening game against Central remained scoreless for most of the contest, until Knoxville scored in the closing minutes for a one-touchdown victory.
The game against Bradley the following week was similar, as the two sides danced to a nil and nil result. Neither team was able to score before time ran out. It was somewhat of a victory for the Redskins, since Bradley was a team that had been habitually smothering them in previous years.
Then the scale took a downward fall, as the 'Skins gave way to Madisonville, a team that had been perennially inferior at the time. After a near standoff with the powerful Central, and a dead heat with the just-as-powerful Bradley, the 'Skins were obviously a little perplexed over the loss to Madisonville.
They remained at the lull temporarily, because the next week, Kingston, a team the 'Skins had been annually tagging for a loss at the time, came out on top in the 1932 match up against Loudon.
Then the chart started to rise again, as the 'Skins took care of Young High School in late October, to get back on track. They stabilized right there, because the next contest against Polk County was close, and fell to the 'Skins favor by two points.
At this point Ferguson and Roy Grimes were sharing the quarterback duties, as coach McCall found a formula that was working -- platooning the field marshal.
The tight defense was anchored by Walter Davis and Clyde Porter on the line.
In the game against the Panthers, the 'Skins temperature surged off the chart. It was the final official game at what was eventually to be known as "Old Field."
The intra-county contest of 1932 was played in rain and mud, a setting which proved to be fertile for one side; dismal for the other. Within a minute of the initial kickoff, Bobby Custead plunged across for the first score of the day. John Campbell also got in during the first period, when he ran from eleven yards out.
Campbell scored not long afterwards, this time from the four-yard-line, capping a drive which had included two twenty-yard runs.
Things were starting to solidify for Loudon. Campbell went on to score for the third time in the first period, and Custead took over the honor in the second. By halftime the 'Skins had built up an almost insurmountable lead. Late in the third period, Loudon scored on a forty-yard run by - yep, Campbell, once again.
The rain got worse, and so did the Panthers' fortune. Already leading a lopsided score of 32 to nothing, Loudon's offensive effort in the fourth period exceeded the first three periods combined.
When it rains it pours. Most of the fans had gone home by now, since the game was a foregone conclusion by all accounts. Those who stayed saw the most proficient quarter yet played by the team. Custead kept plodding along and scored again just as the final period was getting under way.
The Panthers fumbled the kickoff, which gave the 'Skins the ball at the Panther ten yard line. Custead complied by scoring once again.
The 'Skins kept the momentum going, and first, added two more touchdowns, and then, blocked a Lenoir City punt, which resulted in another score by Custead. In fact, Campbell and Custead scored ten touchdowns between them, and Ralph Presley scored on the conversion attempts.
Grimes was stationed at quarterback that day as Campbell held down the fullback duties. Clyde Christian had joined Custead in the backfield, and Bunny Harrison and Pap Word were holding down the end duties. Bill Isbell was at center that day, and he was sandwiched by Fred Hooker and Buddy Robinson at guards. Rose and Skeet Miller completed the line at tackles.
Loudon Solidifies in the 1930's
Although college football had started between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, it didn't reach the South for another twenty years. High school football followed about ten years after that which would have been at the turn of the century.
As we approach the centennial of high school football, we have the opportunity to observe the seventy-fifth anniversary of Loudon High School football. By the time Loudon initiated a program in 1923, high school football had become well-regulated which means that Loudon football has always been a clean game.
In the early years of the twentieth century, football was a very harsh sport even in high school. Presidential intervention led to the regulating of the game for safety reasons when Theodore Roosevelt took a hands-on facilitation to the problem.
It took a while for the smaller school to take to the idea of grid-iron sports, because of the initial resistance of insurance companies to accept the risk, and also that schools were a little hesitant to shell out the money for both equipment and coaching for a game that was still for the most part unproven.
By 1923 American football was in full stride; and by that time it was deemed appropriate that Loudon should be an entity. Thus the Redskin eleven took to the field for the first time and got right in pace with the other schools who were fielding teams of there own.
Lenoir City and Sweetwater had already been fielding teams for a few years by then, as it was custom in those days to use a high school for a training base for a town team, which both of those cities had; but no record of any such team in Loudon exists.
Henry Bell, whom first year squad member Johnny Grubb had referred to as "driver", was beckoned to guide the fledging Redskin team--a squad that had no experience with the game.
The 1920's belonged to Lenoir City when the two schools met face to face. But as the twenties gave way to the thirties, there was a run of fortune in Loudon stadium including the sixty-six to nothing routing of the Panthers in 1932. Lenoir City climbed back on top in 1933 and also took of the 'Skins the next year when the Panthers were undefeated. Although Lenoir City was a powerful team in 1934, Loudon kept it close.
The meeting of the two Loudon county teams that year marked the occasion of the Redskins new home officially known as the Col. Charles H. Bacon field.
The thirty-three and thirty-four were highlighted by captain Bunny Harrison, lineman "Beans" Hooker, Bobby Custead, and Duck Grimes.
In 1935 the Redskins were in full stride. In their first seven games, only one opponent had scored on Loudon. That means in six of seven games, Loudon shut the opposition out. In the eighth game of the year, they surrendered only two points to Young High of Knoxville. The shut outs included Jack Campbell scoring three touchdowns against Madisonville, and then two weeks later circling into the end zone against Sweetwater during the closing moment of the game for the only touchdown for a 7-0 victory.
Fred Tullock, a Redskin lineman on defense, was accredited with much of the effort which kept Sweetwater off the scoreboard.
Picking up on Tullock's cue, the defense shut out McMinn County. Jack Campbell, Bill Campbell, and Bill Tuck each scored in the game. Despite their outstanding season in '36, the tide was beginning to go out for the Redskins in the intracounty contests.
After the '32 hammering of the Panthers (66-0) the Redskins dropped the next three to the Lenoir City in their annual contests. And the thirty-five loss put a mar on the Redskin otherwise outstanding season which included a half-dozed shutouts.
1936 was a lackluster year for the skins but by '37 they were back in top form. They lost only one game in 1937, but what a horrendous loss it was. Remember the sixty-six to zip trouncing of the Panthers back in thirty-two? Well, what goes around comes around, and the Panthers who were not having their best seasons whipped the skins by a margin that exceeded that of their own loss five years earlier.
The Panthers shut out Loudon 74-0 to conclude the '37 season and Lenoir City was once again becoming the 'Skins nemesis. However, considering that each team had put an unmerciful pouncing on the other during the 1930's, it may be looked back upon as them coming out even. Babe Conner and Bill Yearout each scored two touchdowns in the Panthers eleven touch down assault.
The 1938 contest between the two county schools was considered to be one of the best played at that time. Jim Blair scored Loudon's second touchdown of the evening with about a minute to go in the half. It was close--thirteen to twelve--in the second half. Loudon quarterback Johnson was leading an effective attack which kept the Skins right on the Panther's heels until Lenoir City's defense tightened up late in the game. An interception by Lenoir City's Troy Webb helped signal the victory for them, but it was a much closer game than the previous year's lop-sided outcome.
As the curtain came down on the 1938 season, Loudon must have remembered the old sports adage: "There's always tomorrow."
The Perfect '39, '40, and '41 Seasons
At first glance the 1939 season looked as if it would have been a slipshod one for the Redskins. But it when was all over and one reflected on the results, all that could be said was that "Hmm, Good job" as the Skins consistently secured victory out of what looked to be dismal situations. Most of the games were tight, and some weren't decided until the final moments; but the Skins pulled through time and again whether it was a close one as it almost always was or there one decisive victory.
What really matters in high school football is the outcome of the game, not how a group of sports writers rank a team. This is one aspect that makes high school and professional football better than collegiate -- a process of elimination to determine a champion not a ranking system. With Loudon, all the matters were decided on the field in 1939 when the fans of both the Redskins and the opposition looked at the scoreboard what they saw ten times was a Redskin victory. That settled it -- no second guessing. Of all the games that year, only one was lopsided, but they all fell to the Loudon side nonetheless.
A team may pull off a fluke from time to time and surprise an opponent by squeaking out a victory, but no team can do it for a full season. The end result, although many of the games were close, is that Loudon was a superior team that year. Familiarity was one of the aspects of the 1939 team. Most of the squad had by then played together since they were very young considering the inclusion of the city of Loudon's "Peanut" football program. With the first game against Knoxville High School going to the Skins by a score of 12 to 7, hardly anyone expected this be the solidification of a Loudon dynasty -- especially when one considers that Knoxville was playing their "B" squad at the time.
The next week, the Skins met Trion, GA in an intra-state contest. It looked as if the team from down South was going to roll over the Loudon boys. The skins brought the game to an even keel when Loudon's John Elkins returned the favor and recovered a fumble inside Trion's own ten yard line. The ensuing scored leveled the game once again. On a subsequent turnover later in the game, the Redskin's Kenneth Conner intercepted a pass and ran forty yards to the Trion ten. One the ensuing set of downs, Conner shot a pass to Howard Schulien for a touchdown. Trion scored their second touchdown but the skins stifled their conversion attempt to preserve the one-point victory 14-13.
They met with the wildcats from Sweetwater next, and it was their third close game in as many weeks. It was tied to seven points a piece until the last few minutes when Loudon scored their second touchdown of the contest and walked away winners 13-7. The fourth opponent of the year was Madisonville. No match -- it was the one game all year that the Redskins simply glided to victory. The Yellowjackets from Kingston held the advantage for most of the game the week after that. Loudon finally tied it when B. Rodger Hodge went into the end zone halfway through the final period after receiving Conner's pass. That tied the game. It was Loudon's first score of the day, and it was in the fourth period! Hodge's performance must have inspired return man Custead who scored after taking a punt from the Kingston offense.
That broke the tie. It was the second touch down for the Redskins for the period and for the day, but they made them count. Kingston remained pat from then on, and the Skins mustered their fifth win of the season. Halfway home and no losses.
Spring City was also a close game. The Skins had only one touchdown for that contest plus one safety; but the opposition did not score all day. The Skins now had half a dozen wins in as many tries.
Against Sevierville in the seventh game of the season, the Redskins did not score once again for the entire first half. But by now, they were making a habit of sifting through a mound of sand to find the golden nugget; and they prospered three times in the third period. The Skins traveled to Maryville the next week for a dismal game to be played in the sleet.
Loudon's Paul fox refused to let it remain dismal when he scored the games only touchdown following a Rebel fumble. The six-to-nothing final was close but netted the Skins eight victories to naught nonetheless. The next win was close as well: twelve to six over Stair. Both Shulen and Jim Blair scored in that one.
Finally, the season closed against Lenoir City. Loudon was writing their nine game winning streak. But also had a losing streak of six straight in cross-county contests. The skins had not beaten the Panthers since the 1932 sixty-six-to-zip trouncing and had even suffered a magnificent blow, being shut out by the Panthers two years earlier 74-0 in the '37 finale.
But 1939 was Loudon's year. They had nine wins, and they weren't going to stop there. This game was not a trouncing. In keeping with the tone of the season, the Skins played one more close one. The Panthers played host since it was an odd numbered year, and Loudon's captain Jim Blair said hello when he scored to culminate the opening drive for the Redskins. Shulen scored in the second period, and the skins were up by a dozen points. The Panthers' Jack Armstrong tightened it up in the second half with a ninety yard run for a touchdown. The skins scored once more in the waning moments of the game, and when it was over they had become double digit victors-- winners all the way from start to finish.
By the time the 1940 season was completed the Redskins had a score of victories on a string against no losses. Q: How does a team get better when they have given up only three touch downs in the first four games of the season? A: By shutting the opponents out in the next four games. In 1940 good things were expected by the Redskin eleven, and good things were delivered.
In the first eight games of their second perfect season the skins had yielded three -- that's three! -- scores, for a minuscule average of 2.25 points per game given up. The skins were winning this year more decisively as opposed to some of the squeakers they pulled out in 1939. The first real contest of the year was the skins ninth game. The opponent was Maryville, and the Rebels were trying their best to spoil the Redskins party.
Maryville was ahead 7-0 when Loudon's Hodge passed to Huff for a touchdown, but no conversion was made, and the Rebels held on to a Graham lead at halftime by a score of 7-6.
It was still 7-6 when Loudon got the ball for the last time on offense. They drove. and they drove, and they drove with solid line support from Grady Bingham, Jerrell Lawhorn, Don Henderson, Pete Campbell, Elkins, Shubert, and Kolleck. Finally they arrived at the Maryville one yard line, knocked on the door but couldn't get the Rebels to open it when Maryville's line got just as impressive and held on downs.
Then the Loudon line got impressive one more time and devoured the ball carrier in the end zone on Maryville's possession for a safety. The Skins got up, dusted themselves off, breathed a sigh of relief, and walked away with their ninth win of the year and their nineteenth consecutive victory against no losses. The season finale against Lenoir City was tight most of the way. Loudon drove deep into Panther territory early in the game, but the Panthers tightened up and forced a turnover.
The Panther's Reno then intercepted on a subsequent Loudon possession and was on his way to the end zone when the Loudon defense pulled him down before he could quite get there. It was still scoreless through three full periods of play.
Hodge started to move the ball a bit for the skins in the final period and Fox then completed a twenty yard pass to Conner to set up the game's only score when Hodge plunged across. The Panthers came rallying back but the skins finally held them just as they were encroaching into Loudon territory to preserve the six to nothing defensive battle and their second perfect season.
Q: What's better than a pair of consecutive undefeated seasons?
A: A triad of undefeated seasons that hardly anyone was expecting.
Loudon fans were counting their blessings and did not want to tempt providence by wishing for a third perfect season in a row. If you thought the first several games on the 1940 season were an impressive showing when the Loudon Redskins gave up only three touchdowns, 1941 was even better.
In the first six games of the year, the Redskins yielded not a single point-- none not one. It wasn't until the seventh game when Vonore slipped across with a touchdown -- Vonore? Don't worry, Loudon took the game forty-one to six, and it was the only score made against the Redskins for the entire forty-one season. The first game of the year against Sweetwater was close but the skins pulled off a safety and got a touchdown from Chaney for the eight to zero win. The next three wins were lopsided, and it wasn't until the Redskins played Kingston in the fifth week of the season they had another close game, but it was preserved 7-0.
After that, it was back to high speed as Randolph and Shubert scored twice and Chaney returned a punt fifty-five yards against Spring City. The week after Vonore snuck their one touchdown in Loudon on a Friday afternoon, the United States began preparing for the inevitable blackouts that would be ushered in with WWII. The U.S. wasn't at war just yet. It was still a number of weeks away, but preparations were being made just the same.
Blackouts were a precautionary method as the U.S. was getting on its war footing. Daytime or nighttime, it didn't matter to the skins, they took care of New Market 33-0 anyway. Now it was time to meet the Panthers once again. This year it wasn't close.
In honor of the forty-one Redskins, Loudon scored forty-one points. Things didn't go well for the Panthers that day, and like an overwhelming majority of the Redskins opponents in 1941, they didn't make a mark on the scoreboard. Hodge scored three touchdowns for the day, and Bingham had one for himself. Both Campbell and Shubert returned interceptions for touchdowns.. It was the skins last dance before the county officially went to war, and they had strung together a three-fold decade of wins against no losses. It was good while it lasted, and the skins held together in harmony in the bleak days leading up to America's involvement in World War II as everyone's attention was suddenly being diverted to more serious matters.
Redskins remain steady during the 1940s
A six wins and two losses record would be satisfactory to most football teams. However, for the 1942 Redskin squad, it was almost an anti-climax. You see, prior to 1942, the Loudon squad had not lost a game since the cross-county annual finale when they succumbed to Lenoir City in 1938.
But 1942 was not a typical year in many respects. First of all, the 'Skins lost the first game of the year to Townsend. That was almost unheard of. If it looked as if it would be a pathetic year after losing to a perennial lackluster team. It wasn't - they went on to stand tall against more potent foes - it's similar to the University of Tennessee losing to Rutgers and beating Notre Dame on successive weekends.
Jerrell Lawhorn and Grady Bingham were beckoned to lead the team through the first dark and dreary year following the U.S. entry into the second world war.
However, Pete Campbell, who was initially named to lead the squad, was forced to forsake the team, and hold down a steady job. It wasn't a pleasant time for all involved. In fact, many of the Redskin faithful had family members serving in different branches of the military. Football was simply ushered away from center stage during that sobering time, and there was no fanfare, no swam song, and no sentimental goodbyes to the 1942 squad, which was, temporarily, the school's closing gridiron act.
It just sort of faded out, and in 1943, with the country in the midst of a major war, there was no effort to perpetuate the football program, either at Loudon or many other of the area schools. The tide began to shift in 1944. The U.S. war effort was zeroing in on certain objectives, and there was a revival in local football, as travel restrictions were not as stringent as they had been in 1943. The Skins revived with a 26 to zip shellacking of Spring City in the first game after Cotton Thomas scored the first touchdown, which was then augmented by Bill Blair, Buck Mitchell, and Homer Vaughn Simpson.
After a one-touchdown setback to Kingston in the second game, the Redskins revived against Vonore when Bill Hodge scored in the third and Jimmy Cannon in the fourth to ice the year's second victory. It had been nip and tuck up to that point, but the Loudon faithful began to breath a little easier in the waning moments of the game.
The next week was a thirty-three to nothing runaway against Sweetwater, then it was back to playing it close against Englewood, and then going to Georgia to beat Trion decisively, a victory which was accredited much to Joe Satterfield's defensive efforts.
The 1944 season looked like it was up and down, but really, the Skins only suffered at the hands of Kingston.
1945 was a mixed bag. The first two games were seven to zip victories against Vonore and Alcoa respectively. Buck Mitchell had scored in the former contest, and Charles Rayburn in the latter.
Next, was a thirty-eight to six pounding of Clinton, which was highlighted by Simpson's ninety yard touchdown run on an interception.
Then the season got a little bizarre. Harriman bested the Skins eighteen to nothing. But Loudon came back the next week to beat Trion twenty to six. It that win, kicker Walker helped matters along with some crucial placing of the ball through the uprights. He did the same thing against Maryville the next week, but the Blount county team had already built up a substantial lead.
The slide continued the next week against Sweetwater, and the 'Skins '45 season ended in a tailspin.
Vonore then initiated the 1946 season by scoring first against Loudon. Feeling that enough was enough, following the bittersweet conclusion of 1945, the 'Skins then ripped off three straight touchdowns by Mitchell, Leon, Conner, and Simpson. Smitty McCall was called upon the next week against Kingston, and he helped Simpson and Mitchell who were true to form, as Loudon ran away from Kingston.. Two games two wins. Who would complain? It was Clinton's turn next week, and everything went wrong: the 'Skins relinquished a thirty to nothing game in the Anderson County game.
The next game against Harriman was decided by a mere point - very close, and a tight defensive game, since it was a seven to six final. Unfortunately, it was in Harriman's favor. Four games played for an even split -- two wins, two losses. The 'Skins were then victorious against Trion, as they managed to keep their heads above the waterline, one game over .500. They were back to get even the next week when Maryville got the best of them, and remained there for another week, when neither they nor Etowah scored in that contest!
The season was salvaged in the finale when Mitchell scored twice, including a fifty-five yard gallop, and Smitty McCall tossed tow touchdown passes.
As the country was getting back on track with prosperity following the war, so were the "Skins when the final game enabled them to secure a winning season in 1946. The 'Skins steadily improved in 1947 when they won half a dozen games, which was primed by a three-touchdown performance by Mitchell in the opening contest. The follow-up was superb when linemen Hicks and Russell anchored a defense that held Kingston scoreless, while the Loudon offense rolled up thirty-three points on touchdowns by the two Mitchell's, Hamil, and Wilson.
The next week, Loudon made fifteen first downs while setting Alcoa down 19-6.
The next game was close, with each team making a full dozen first downs, but Tennessee, Bristol got the only score of the day.
Mitchell rifled to Leon Conner at the conclusion of the subsequent Maryville game, but the 'Skins came up a point short. Then the 'Skins gave way to Bradley, and the season was slip-sliding away, at three wins and three losses. Just when you thought it was all over, new life was breathed into the Loudon team, as Buck Mitchell ran wild, scoring four times against Lake City. J.R. Wilson also contributed a couple of touchdowns, as the 'Skins got reacquainted with the winning tradition.
Next, Etowah couldn't score and gave the ball up on downs. Mitchell had one 92-yard run, and scored three times, keynoting the thirty-to-nothing frosting of Etowah. Now the '47 season had gone, in sequence, three wins, three losses, and two wins. The 'Skins were eager to make the triad three-three-three. The Panthers would just as soon make the Loudon's seasonal sequence three-three-two-one. For the first time in six years, the two Loudon County teams were ready to face off once again. The last time the two teams met was the culmination of the 'Skins' perfect-perfect-perfect seasons of '39, '40, and '41 when they snuffed the Panthers to bring their consecutive string of victories up to an even thirty.
The series' renewal was in Lenoir City in a downpour. Many times games played in wet conditions yield a lot of scoring, due to miscues on ball handling (hence, turnovers), and not being able to secure a steady footing on defense. This was not the case. The only time the 'Skins paid a visit deep into Panther territory in the first half they were not admitted. The Panthers let them knock on the door as Loudon reached the Lenoir City twenty-yard line, but the Panthers held it shut. Late in the game, Lenoir City drove eighty-three yards, which was punctuated by Rusty Bailey's plunge from the one-yard line. Panther Kenneth Spoon then tacked on the extra point, and that was all the scoring in the low-key contest-- 7-0 --Panthers win.
'47 was Loudon's year to vacillate. They had gone: win-win-win-loss-loss-loss-win-win-loss. The next obvious entry in the sequence would be another "L". The 'Skins, however, were determined to break the pattern. Although it had been a tradition for the two Loudon County teams to save their finale for each other, 1947 was the exception.
After the L.C. game, Loudon still had one more match with Sweetwater before calling it quits for the year. They went back to the "W" column. Buck Mitchell scored five touchdowns. Some were single-digit runs from the two- and five-yard lines. One was a dozen yards, one was five-dozen yards (from the 'Skins' own forty-yard line), and one was for seventy-one yards. The exact sequence was 12, 7, 5, 2, and 60. Winning two out of three games is not a bad way to finish a season.
1948 turned out to be a year the Loudon faithful would gladly see come to an end. It wasn't without merit though. There was an early season shutout against Kingston in which Cook scored twice on end-around plays and Hodge ran forty-five yards on an interception.
The renewed annual rivalry against L.C. fell to Loudon's favor once again, when Mitchell went in from eighty yards out to climax the win. Cook and Hodge also scored against the Panthers. In between some sour defeats, Loudon found a couple of diamonds in the rough, as they took care of Etowah and Sweetwater late in the season. Hodge had passed twenty yards against Etowah, and then carried one across himself which was augmented by Mitchell's touchdown in the twenty-to-zip shutout.
They closed the season Sweetwater with another shutout. Shubert blocked a punt, and mate Morgan grabbed it and ran twenty yards for the score. Hodges ran fifty-seven yards for the second period as the Redskins stayed on course to redeem their season.
Loudon looked to be the league's cellar dwellers but worked hard to rally at the end to avoid that embarrassment. By the time it was over, the 'Skins had mustered just as many wins that year as losses they had suffered. But it had looked early on as if the losses were going to get the upper hand. There had been one tie that year, when Cook and Campbell had scored against Alcoa, to go along with the team's four wins and four losses. Probably encouraged by the strong finish in '48, coach Manin Mitchell entered 1949, his second at the Loudon helm, determined to build a winner.
Fred Cook was appointed captain, and his supporting cast included Robert Shelton, A.C. Dukes Jr., Henry Mitchell, Bob Purdy, and Jack Hodge, Nat Campbell, and Ernest Smallen.
The first four games of the '49 season were shutouts. Twice Loudon was the perpetrator; twice they were the victim.
In the first game of the year against Gibbs, Jack Hodge got two quick touchdowns en-route to the 'Skins' thirty-seven-to-nothing victory. Hodge kept it up the next week and had help from Smallen who also scored a touchdown in the ensuing shutout of Kingston. Alcoa scored the game's only touchdown late in the fourth period the next week, as Loudon dropped a close one.
Lenoir City had not yet been moved back to the end of the schedule, and the fourth week of the season went to the Panthers, twenty-five to nothing. In fact, it was Lenoir City's year, as the Panthers went undefeated (Loudon was still a year away from their second incarnation of perfection).
Jerry Conner had passed to Wright for the Panthers first score, and later in the game they tallied three times in a lively third period. The 'Skins hit a lull after that, falling to Clinton, 25-7. Just when the season had been dead-weighted, the Redskins all of a sudden, once again, became angry. They had all the joy they could stand when they plastered Etowah forty-five points to nothing. Hodge scored first, then Nat Campbell ran forty-two yards for Loudon's second touchdown. Buddy Bacon kicked a point, and everybody was getting in on the act. Hodge then intercepted and ran 85 yards for his second touchdown. Then he intercepted and ran fifty-five yards for his third touchdown. If that wasn't enough, Hodge scored twice more in the second half. Henry Mitchell also scored in that half.
The 'Skins then went up another win when they took care of Sweetwater at the homecoming game. Then they came back to earth to conclude the 1940's with a loss to Maryville. They had come into the 1940's with a perfect season. So what better way than to start the 1950's than with another perfect season -- well, almost perfect.
Since the Loudon Redskins had transcended from the 1930's to the 1940's with perfection, what better way to bring in the 1950's? That's exactly what they did: brought back the Loudon tradition of perfection - well, it was almost perfect.
By many accounts, the 1950 Redskin squad was referred to as the "Dream Team." Coach Manin Mitchell seemed to be putting together a work of art as each player sort of fit in to just the right position for that player, and all the parts seemed to mesh so well. Each week it seemed it was a different member of the team's chance to shine, although many members such as back Bob Shelton, and lineman and team captain Hope McCullough figured importantly into the positive results. The defense, led by McCullough and supported by names such as Mills, Nichols, West, Watkins, and Cooper held the opposition scoreless again on three consecutive weekends.
In five other regular season games they were able to limit whoever Loudon was playing to a single touchdown. Only Alcoa scored more than seven points on the Redskins during the entire regular season, and they were trounced by twenty points, 33-13 after being behind only 14-13 at the half. The second half featured a pair of touchdowns by Nat Campbell, and a seventy yard punt by Bob Shelton, and the game was close no more.
The aforementioned line was also solid in the sense that they protected the Loudon backfield and receivers to allow them to score 97 points in the course of the three games in which they gave up only a pair of points; and score 243 points for the regular season while giving up a mere 47 - almost a 200 point difference.
A.C. Dukes scored twice in the opening game against Maryville that year, both times on receptions from Shelton. The 12-6 score against the Rebels was one of the two close games of the '50 season.
In the next one against Kingston, which was also close, Dukes and Shelton split the scoring duties, and took care of the Yellowjackets 13-6.
Then it was the aforementioned Alcoa. No problem - downed them by 20 points. In the cross-county match with the Lenoir City panthers, Loudon was trailing at halftime, but steadily motored ahead as Nat Campbell scored twice after intermission.
Then it was Sevierville. No problem - downed them by 19 points as Nat Campbell scored three times.
The next week it was Carl Glass' turn to score three times as the 'Skins shattered Harriman 37 points to nothing.
Oakdale surrendered by 38 points the following week, going down 40-2.
Then it was another shutout, this time against Etowah, as the Redskins had a score of points in a game in which Henry Mitchell had the first touchdown, Shelton had the second on an interception, and Dukes had the third on a pass reception in the second half.
In the last regular season game against Townsend, the Redskins scored a half-dozen touchdowns. Two were by Glass, two by Mitchell, and one each by Campbell and McCall.
That was it. Nine wins and no losses. A perfect season -- well, almost. 1950 had an aftermath, a footnote, an epilogue, a blemish, a sobering incident that slightly marred an illustrious season. Impressed by Loudon's outstanding performance, the Rockwood Jaycees invited the team to participate in the post-season bowl they were sponsoring. That somehow became a problem. Up to that game, everything had gone right for the Redskins, but in the post-season get-together everything seemed to go wrong.
A team that had been faultless all season, suddenly found themselves not having a good day, as they gave way to Spring City and their remarkable speedster, Bobby Bringle, in a one-sided game 38-0.
A team that can win 90 percent of their games is an excellent team. Stringing together nine straight wins, by an average victory margin of better than 20 points is no easy task; and a team has to be solid to consistently win week after week. Any team should be allowed to lose one out of ten games without concern of repercussions of condensation.
Despite the post-season loss, Loudon can regard 1950 as one of their better years. A team that has gone nine and one has had a good year and is a good team.
1969 Redskin Football Team - AA State Champions
1969 TSSAA State Playoff Football Game Scores
Going into the 1962 season, Loudon football bad been mired in a state of mediocrity since the early 1950's. No one could have seen it at the time, but by the end of the season, the Big Red would be recognized as one of the powers in the state and Bert "Chig" Ratledge, in his sixth season as head coach, would be regarded as one of the best in the business. It would be a season marked by close games, big victories, and a horrible, untimely tragedy.
The captains of the team were guard Joe Alexander, defensive back Pat Harper, and fullback Johnny Campbell. Other seniors were Jim Queen, J.D. Easter, Carlos Evans, Ernie Millsaps, Wilton Richesin, and Scotty Chaney.
In game one against the Rogersville Warriors, quarterback Butch Crabtree threw two touchdown passes to Bill Lane, and the Redskins went on to a 20-0 win. Next, Spring City was beaten 13-6 as Ernie Millsaps intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble.
In game three against Alcoa, the defense was outstanding. Led by Jerry Lawhorn, Pat Harper, Joe Alexander, Johnny Campbell, Jerry Trout, Joe Turpin, J.D. Easter, and Jim Queen, the Tornadoes were held to only two first downs in a hard-fought 14-6 win. The Redskins were feeling very good about themselves.
But on that Sunday night of September 9, tragedy struck. Defensive tackle, Joe Turpin was killed in a late-night car accident while returning home. The team, school, and town were in shock. The popular "Big Joe" would be greatly missed.
The Redskins gathered themselves together to beat an undefeated Rockwood team 14-13 in game four. The Tigers got the opening kick-off and drove the ball fifty-seven yards to score. Rockwood scored with fifty-nine seconds to go in the game to pull within 14-13. Bill Lane and David Messamore tackled the Rockwood fullback inches from the goal line on the two-point conversion try to preserve the victory.
Loudon had not beaten Lenoir City in two years, but after a 0-0 halftime score, the Loudon offense, led by Raymond Stamey and Carlos Evans, exploded for a 27-0 victory. In game 6, the Big Red had to come from behind twice to beat Everette 20-13 and Madisonville was defeated 20-0 in game 7.
The 11th ranked Etowah Piledrivers were the homecoming foe that year. This powerful team was averaging 500 yards per game and had scored 49 points on the Redskins the year before. Loudon jumped on them early, scoring 2 touchdowns in the first 3 minutes of the game, and went on to a 44-21 victory in front of 3000 fans at Bacon Field.
Sweetwater was crushed 27-0 and the next week the Redskins overcame a 2-touchdown first quarter deficit to edge Maryville 20-18. Wilton Richesin sprinted 75 yards in the third quarter to put Loudon ahead for good.
In the final game, Stamey and Evans each rushed for over 100 yards to beat Kingston 10-6 and complete an 11-0 season. After the season, Joe Turpin's number 75 jersey was retired, Joe Alexander was named all-state, and Coach Ratledge was named East Tennessee Coach of the Year.
When the 1963 season ended, the Loudon Redskins faced a massive rebuilding assignment after losing such dependable players as Bill Lane, Jerry Lawhorn, Raymond Stamey, Butch Crabtree, Jerry Trout, Bob Turpin, and Peno Campbell. Those graduating seniors had played a key role in the Redskins winning twenty straight games before losing to the Kingston Yellowjackets, 27-7, in the last game of the '63 season.
1964 was a milestone year in Loudon history. It was then that the city's schools desegregated.
The compliance came 10 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which outlawed segregation in public schools. 1964 was also the year the Loudon football program was to go through a rebuilding stage, although there were several quality players returning, which included Bernard Brown, Nathan Huff, Bob Shubert, and Butch Thompson, who were elected team captains.
The Redskins opened the '64 at Elizabethon against a very strong upper-east Tennessee team. After Loudon fell three touchdowns behind, coach Bet "Chig" Ratledge put freshman quarterback Jim Thomas in the game. The young field marshall promptly complied by completing a 30-yard touchdown pass to Shubert in the third quarter, which turned out to be the 'Skins only score of the evening. The clutch performance, however, was a preview of things to come. Thomas was given the nod to take over Loudon's quarterback duties and held the helm down for the next 41 games.
The following week the Redskins had their problems with ball control, and ended up fumbling nine times against a strong Alcoa team that would get the best of them, 25-0. Albert Davis was a star running back for the Tornadoes that year, and without a doubt, proved to be a formidable foe. Davis, an African American, was the first member of his race to play against Loudon. That hardly seems significant now, but in the mid-60's school integration was a subject that was in the forefront of nearly everyone's attention.
Back then, as times were changing, everyone was confronted with the prospect of racial reconciliation, following years of segregation.
The Redskins, to their credit, showed Davis the utmost courtesy as they would any other opponent. Members of the Loudon team became aware of the sociological change and comported themselves with the progress appropriately.
Once the pasting administered by Elizabethon and Alcoa were history, the 'Skins got on track and would next reel off five consecutive wins in that '64 season. Rockwood went down, 21-12; Lenoir City came out on the short end of a 21-6 game; Everette stumbled 14-7; Madisonville lost to the 'Skins by ten points 18-8; and Etowah was beat by a two-to-one margin in a 27-13 contest. Possessing an impressive record of five wins and two losses, the 'Skins then sparred with Sweetwater to and 14-all tie.
Following that, Loudon's next two dates were with teams who had state rankings: Maryville and Kingston. The good fortune and string of wins was fun while it lasted, but the 'Skins closed out the '64 season in humble fasion. They didn't score against either of the final two regularly scheduled teams. Maryville, for their part, scored 33 points, and Kingston made their day by administering 41 points.
The 'Skins were then pitted against Tellico Plains in the Jaycee Bowl in Athens, and gave way to the Bears, 32-7. At this point Loudon was still looking for its first victory in a bowl game, as they finished out the .500 1964 season with five wins, five losses, and the solitary tie.
It was Loudon's third attempt in a bowl game, which began for the 'Skins following the perfect-up-to-the-bowl- game 1950 season. The state's bowl games were rendered obsolete with the advent of the state play-off system which is currently in effect.
The opening game in 1965 was a heartbreaker. The Redskins, captained by Larry Bridges and Larry Huff, lost a squeaker to Alcoa by a mere point, 7-5 as both teams were kept to single digits in tight defensive contest.
'65 became more dismal as the season progressed. Altogether, the 'Skins would be saddled with eight losses against a single win, which would account for their worst record since the 1952 season, when they also won only one game. The '65 win against Madisonville, and contrary to what was characteristic of the remainder of the season, Loudon plastered the Monroe County team with a solid 33-6 trouncing. Every cloud must have its silver lining.
The student body and administration of Loudon High School were ushered into a new one million dollar facility for the 1966-67 school year. The football field at the new school had yet to be outfitted with lights for the 1966 season, thus requiring some of the games at Bacon field, which had been the site of Loudon's home games prior to 1966.
The 'Skins met with the aforementioned Albert Davis and the Alcoa Tornadoes once again. Davis scored four touchdowns. He also mustered punt returns of both 97 and 93 yards. The Alcoa star by this time had been selected to Parade Magazine's all-American team.
Loudon rebounded after that game to take care of Rockwood by 20 points, winning 26-6. The next week was even better for the Redskins, as they took care of the cross-county friends, the Lenoir City Panthers, 34 to nothing. In that game, Arnold Hawkins would also kick a pair of field goals and successfully convert three separate attempts for extra points following touchdowns. On the defensive side, Hawkins intercepted a pass and piled up nine tackles. His performance against L.C. is widely considered by Loudon partisans to be one of the best individual showcases for a Redskin player in a single contest.
The '66 game against Lenoir City was the first of five consecutive Loudon shutouts. The subsequent victims, in order were Everette, Madisonville, McMinn Central, and Sweetwater, as Loudon scored 26, 25, 48, and 12 points against those opponents, respectively, which helped account for better than 140 unanswered points in the course of the five shutouts.
The game against McMinn was the 'Skins curtain call at their old home turf, as they then bid Bacon Field adieu. It was a jubilant farewell, laced with maturity and a star performance, as the 'Skins foreclosed their old abode not with a murmur, but with exultation.
After being ahead by a half-dozen touchdowns, Loudon's star quarterback Thomas was given a reprise, and was allowed to take a rest while his mates dotted the I's and crossed the T's as they were soundly putting McMinn away for the night. Reserve quarterback Jackie Lefler opted to go to the air, which would be the last pass, last play, and last score at the old field, as Lefler's 16-yard touchdown completion to Danny Giles, which was ran with one second left in regulation time, gave the classic homestead one last hurrah before the 'Skins relocated.
The 'Skins beckoned Maryville to come over and enjoy their new stadium, which was by now equipped with lights. The 1966 "Game of the Year" between the Rebels and the Redskins at the new $100,000 stadium (1966 dollars mind you) would feature a performance by a Tennessee walking horse. In the evening's main event, the visiting Rebel's quarterback Keith Brock was given the honor of scoring the first touchdown on the new field. Sadly, the honor didn't go to a Loudon player. Ironically, it was the first score against the Redskins in six games.
The 'Skins would have to wait a bit to score in their new playground, as Maryville turned things around for Loudon, and handed them a shutout, just as the 'Skins were getting used to administering that fate to almost every opponent.
The wait wasn't a long one. For on the very next Friday night, the 'Skins did score at the new stadium. They did it with a fashionable touch - defeating Kingston, 20-6, as intra-county game-star Hawkins moved in for Loudon's first running score at the new home.
Redskins teammate Marvin Albright would tally the first touchdown via a pass on a 53-yard play which was initiated by Thomas, who was now in his third year as Loudon quarterback.
The 'Skins experienced a lull after that as Cleveland took the final scheduled contest 19-0. The 'Skins revived and played a tight bowl game with Fulton following the regular '66 season. It was close, but the end result was a near miss, as Fulton got away with a one-point win, 14-13.
The 'Skins would have 15 seniors returning for 1967 as they were poised and ready for the first full season at their new field.
The 1960's Part II
Winning seven out of ten games shows style. Winning nine out of eleven is even better. Those impressive percentages belonged to the Redskins in the '67 and '68 seasons. Actually, the nine-win season came first, but the 'Skins held on strong in '68 to muster the .700 record.
Things would get even better in 1969, but more of that later. First we'll examine the stylish seasons of '67 and '68. Fifteen senior returned in 1967, and Loudon partisans could recognize the make-up of an outstanding group.
The first four games of the '67 season proved to be an easy road for the Redskins, as they took care of Alcoa, Rockwood, Lenoir City, and Everett. Each of those four games was won by a minimum of 19 points, and the difference over cross-county friend Lenoir City was a full two-score, 47-7. The Everett game was a shutout that the 'Skins took 21-zip. They also beat Rockwood by five touchdowns.
The Loudon defense had shown itself to be strong, and had solidified with co-captains Arnold Hawkins and Ted Sitzlar. Reinforcing the defensive duties were Larry Bradshaw, Danny Giles, Mike Hitson, and Charles Bettis.
Oak Ridge came over for the fifth game of the year. It was the first time the Redskins had ever met the team from Anderson County, and with their four-and-0 record on the line, the Loudon faithful were billing it as the game of the year. The Loudon stands were filled to capacity.
Things became slightly dismal for the home team when starts Gils and Hawkins, both serving running-back duties, were hurt during the contest. Hawkins was able to return to the game in the second half, after examinations proved he suffered from nothing which was debilitating. Oak Ridge was tough, and it was the 'Skins' first loss of the year.
Good teams overcome setbacks. They also have the ability to come from behind to win. The next week the 'Skins did just that against McMinn Central, winning 26-21. Then they slammed Sweetwater, 39-0, and got by Maryville 24-20. The Maryville game, however, was an impressive one, since the Rebels held a seven-wins-and-one-loss record at the time.
Hitson caught six passes in the contest for 123 yards, which included a pair of touchdowns, and Giles scored the winning touchdown late in the game to punctuate a Loudon 73-yard drive.
The 'Skins then made a trip to Kingston to challenge an undefeated team. They got the better of the Roane County team 21-7.
The 'Skins momentarily stalled against Cleveland, losing by a pair of touchdowns after Cleveland ran back the opening kickoff.
On the final weekend of the season, both Hawkins and Bill Thomas would run for more than 100 yards each in the win over Sevierville. Hawkins was named to the all-state team, and both he and quarterback Jim Thomas, who started more than 40 consecutive games for Loudon, were named to the all-east Tennessee team.
Head coach Chig Ratledge faced a challenge in 1968. Only three players with experience returned, as 17 members of the '67 team graduated.
The 'Skins won a close one in the first game of the '68 season, beating Alcoa by a mere point, 7-6. With 66 yards gained on offense and four first downs, Loudon made the most of them.
The 'Skins then beat Clinton decisively, shut out Lenoir City, and took care of Everett 12-7. Suddenly, a team with little experience was playing like a team of veterans.
The rematch with Oak Ridge fell to the Wildcats as they gained more than 400 yards on offense. The 'Skins suffered another setback the next week when they were shut out by Kingston.
But Loudon then got back on track and demolished McMinn Central, 34 points to nothing. Lonnie Hawkins would rush for 136 yards in that game, and Gordo Watson would have 93.
When the 'Skins met Sweetwater, Bill Thomas ran for 54 yards on the first play to score a touchdown.
Maryville snuck by the Redskins in the next game, 6-0, on what was a close call at the goal line. The Rebels attempted the touchdown on the fourth down, and it turned out to be the only score of the game.
The 'Skins jumped back and hammered Rockwood 45-6.
The most exciting game of the year was the finale against Sevierville, who went ahead with less than two minutes to play. Loudon tied it in the last minute. The 'Skins were seven yards from scoring again when time ran out. Jackie Lefler completed eight passes for 228 yards, and Hitson had four receptions for 127, in the 20-all tie. Both were Loudon records at the time.
Perhaps the greatest running attack Loudon High School ever put on a football field was Coach Henry Blackburn's 1983 Redskins. The team boasted two all-state running backs in Reggie Brown and Cedric Kline, and a big, strong fullback in Ken Brewster.
The team opened the season with just 34 players when they played Maryville, the number two ranked AA team in the state. Loudon held the Red Rebels scoreless and Brown rushed for 179 yards. It would be the last time Loudon defeated Maryville.
In game 2, Loudon defeated McMinn Central 41 to 0 as Kline rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns on just six carries. The defense was shaping up with Ken Brewster, Michael Lawrence, Randy Montooth, Darwin Kerr, Clay Townsend, Toby Townsend, Reggie Brown, and Cedric Kline leading the way.
Kingston was ranked number 7 in the stae, but went down 19 to 7 as the Redskins moved to number 2 in the polls. In game 4, Madisonville was crushed 33 to 7 followed by McMinn County 33 to 13, and Meigs County 42 to 21.
On a cold, rainy night in Johnson County, the Redskins scored 20 fourth-quarter points to defeat Mountain City 33 to 7. Brown gained 219 yards and 4 touchdowns on 30 carries.
Next, Lenoir City put up a great fight before going down 28 to 21 at Dukes Field. Reggie Brown gained 236 yards, and afterwards, Coach Blackburn said, "It ain't pretty, but we'll take it." The next week Cedric Kline ran for 192 yards against Polk County, and for the first time all year, Brown was held under 100 yards in a 48 to 12 win.
In the final game of the regular season, Sweetwater quarterback Terrance Cleveland was sacked four times and Loudon went on to win the District 5 AA championship. The Redskins completed a 10-0 season and looked toward the playoffs.
In the first round of the playoffs at Loudon, the Howard Hustlin' Tigers jumped out to a 13-0 first quarter lead and shocked the Loudon faithful. However, the Redskins, behind Brown (153 yards) and Kline (93 yards), came back for a 14-13 win.
In the quarter-finals, Loudon and Bledsoe County played one of the most exciting games ever played on Dukes field. Ken Brewster's touchdown with 3 minutes left in the game proved to be the winning touchdown, but Bledsoe County drove to the Redskin 1 yard line with 1:28 remaining in the game only to be denied the score and the game.
In the state semi-finals, undefeated Loudon travelled to Knoxville to take on the undefeated Roadrunners from Austin-East. The experts agreed that the winner of this game would probably win the state championship the following week.
Austin East jumped out to an early 13-0 lead, and Loudon was unable to catch up. Donald Patterson burned the Redskins defense for 203 yards and a 27-12 victory. On his last carry, Reggie Brown went over the 2000 yard mark for the season, the only Redskin to ever do this. Henry Blackburn, after two seasons as head coach, was 19-4, and Loudon fans went away that night knowing that this was indeed a very special team.