Chilhowie's 1970 state championship team ready to 'pass the torch'


CHILHOWIE, Va. - It has been 47 years since Chilhowie last played for and won a state championship.

It actually turns out 1970 was the first year single-A schools could compete for a state title in the Virginia High School League.

News 5's Olivia Bailey recently sat down with a few members from that 1970 championship team and even after 47 years, these guys are still legends in their small hometown.

"Here's the best running back Chilhowie's probably had in a long time," Coach Ron Bales said. Bales, the 1970 team head coach, was only in his late 20s when he coached the team to the big win.

It has been nearly a half century since this group won a state title, but to them it seems like it was yesterday. They can remember all their teammates, the play calls, the field conditions, and even the yardage each team had.

When we gathered them back together, it was like nothing has changed.

"When I look back at the team, it's how we got along - when we had a problem, we would talk about it," Mike Coe said. Coe served as a captain on the '70 squad.

It was a challenge for this 1970 team to even make it to the state championship game. Their previous record was 2-8, but they turned it around that year to 8-2. A win over Fluvanna allowed them to bring the trophy home to Smyth County.

"We were all at the right place at the right time," Lester Compton told us. Compton was a freshman on the team that year.

The team itself was small in size, but beat out larger teams with smarts and trick plays. They also used the power of their orange and black uniforms.

"The people had to get a good rush of confidence a good rush of confidence when we got off the bus," Bales said.

Former players also remember the tricks Bales used to carry up his sleeves. Tom Bishop shared some of those secrets, "In big games, he would dress us in all black. He said it made us look even smaller."

What made the 1970 team so special was their focus on one goal when the season hit.

"We had football, and that was about it," Jeff Blevins said.

Butch Crewey said,"We didn't care who scored. I never heard a lot of complaining or anything like that. We just wanted to win." Crewey now serves as an assistant coach for the team. His grandson, Logan Adams, also plays on the team. His other, holds up the play cards. It has become a family affair.

No one knows better than this team what a state title would mean coming back to the town of Chilhowie.

"The Clintwoods, the Appalachias, the people who won it several times, it's not that big a deal to them. It's a pretty big deal to this town," Tom Hill said.

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