EASLEY — Players and coaches of the 1967 Green Wave varsity football team gathered mid-field during the halftime show on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their AA State Championship win.
Former players flew in from around the country for the reunion and the chance to reconnect with old friends and teammates.
“I was right half-back,” said Gary Youngblood, former player on the championship team. “But I wasn’t but 15-years-old, I was a sophomore. So I didn’t start, but I was on the punting/receiving team — me and Sammy Galloway.”
Youngblood, number 33, was one of only five sophomores on the team but said he did “get in some offence” with some running plays in the game against Woodruff.
“It was just a great feeling back then,” he said. “And with this reunion — getting to see the guys — a lot of them I hadn’t seen since school. I mean, you’re talking 50 years.”
Youngblood said in particular he remembered two African American players on the team, Jack Breazeale and James Moore, and that it was a rarity back then as integration of the schools didn’t happen until 1969.
“Jack Breazeale had since passed away but James (Moore) came all the way from Texas for this reunion,” said Youngblood. “That was pretty neat.”
But half a century is a long time and there has been more lost than former teammates, he said.
“Easley used to be a football town, we were loved by everyone and everyone knew who we were,” Youngblood said. “You could go down to Buck’s and they’d give you a filet mignon — no charge.”
Like many of the “old timers” Youngblood said he wasn’t a fan of the new stadium.
“It’s pretty, but it doesn’t have that … that quality … It’s just not the same,” he said. “It used to be when we came down to the field there was a tin wall and we would bang on it as we came down. Everybody knew we were coming. That Easley was coming.”
Youngblood was quick to shun any credit, stating it was always a team effort under great coaching by (now Mayor) Larry Bagwell.
“I always thought the world of him (Bagwell),” he said. “He was a hard coach, but he was fair. Of course you could do things back then that you can’t do now. He’d grab you by your face-mask or give you a kick in the pants. But we loved him for it.”
The team, Youngblood said, was always destined to win.
“We knew from day one, from the first practice, that we were going to win the State Championship that year,” he said. “There was a unity there, we loved each other, we cared — we still do. Because we were a team. And you know what? Fifty years later, we still are.”