Hueytown High School's First State
When most people think of Hueytown High School's participation in
Alabama athletic history, they might think about the many quality baseball
teams over the years. Or maybe they think about individuals like
Butch Wilson, or that football squad in 1958 that went undefeated and
amazingly shut out most of their opponents. What doesn't usually
come immediately to mind is that the first state championship was produced
by the school's wrestling team. This happened on February 16, 1974
under the direction of Coach George A. "Tony" Morton who did
double duty that year both as a wrestling coach and as a 10th grade
Going into the Championship finals, the Golden Gophers owned a 3 1/2 point lead over Robert E. Lee of Montgomery. A win by one of Hueytown's three wrestlers would have given the Gophers the title as Lee only had one man in the finals. But Hueytown got two Title Round Wins - from 155-pounder Ricky Burnette and 185-pounder Billy King who had the most pins in the Tournament.
Hueytown won what people were calling their tournament but it took a great amount of determination and a lot of skill on the part of their wrestlers."
Playing for the Golden Gophers Championship Team that year were Barry Sykes, winner in the Consolation Semi-Finals; Ken Lucas, Kevin Burnette, Gene McDowell, Chris Coleman, winner in the Consolation Finals; Donald Hand, Manuel Walker, Fred Jones, Ricky Burnette, winner in Finals; Tab Blair, Charlie Green, Billy King, winner in Finals; David Bracknell, Woody Bryant, Joey Hosmer, T. Lawrence, T. R. Long, Keith Ellis and Mark Trice.
Some of these players would continue their wrestling careers in
college. Billy King would go on to be a four-time Southeastern
Conference Champion at the University of Alabama. Others would
receive scholarships to different schools: Ricky Burnette to
Livingston College and Mark Trice to the University of Wyoming.
Others like Tab Blair are to this day still actively involved in
supporting the athletic programs at Hueytown High School. Still
others answered an even higher calling like Keith Ellis who is now a
Minister of the Gospel.