Alumnus want football to spur community

Aug. 03, 2014 @ 10:41 AM

Pride, community and camaraderie.

Those are the words best used to describe an effort by four former high school football players in Rutherford County to put together an alumni team of former football players from East Rutherford, Chase and R-S Central.

However, Danny Adams, Rayford Johnson, Daniel Hoyle and Ridge Laney are finding the task a little more challenging than they expected.

“The funny thing is the guys who recently graduated won’t come out and play because they’re intimidated by us older guys,” said Johnson, 46, a 1986 graduate of East Rutherford and former player at East Tennessee State.

Johnson, a teacher and football assistant coach at East, and Adams — another 1986 graduate of East Rutherford — started the concept and have an alumni game already set. They plan to pit the team from Rutherford County — which now stands at 22 players — against a similar team from Pickens, S.C. at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at East Rutherford.

“We’re going to play Pickens and the money we raise will go to East,” said Hoyle, a 2001 graduate of R-S Central and current member of the Hilltoppers’ coaching staff. “We’ll rotate from each school so everyone can benefit.”

Now, this is where the pride and community part come into play.

The four men hope their sacrifice and that of their teammates will generate support and spirit for all of the Rutherford County high schools.

“We’re just trying to bring the schools some pride and respect,” Adams said.

Laney, a 2005 graduate of Chase High School and current semi-pro football player for the Morganton Bobcats, said it’s pride and respect that’s been lacking from schools across the country.

“We need to bring it back to where it used to be,” Laney said.

They also hope these All-County alumni games will bring a sense of community back to Rutherford County.

“Now, instead of playing against these guys like they have, you get to play with them and build community and camaraderie,” Hoyle said. “It’s not about the rivalries here.”

But, at the end of the day, the players ranging in age from 22 to 47 don’t succumb to the pressure of playing a contact sport while not being as young as they used to be.

“We all just love the game,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot about pride and that’s nothing you can outgrow.”

Adams said the Rutherford County Alumni football team is still looking for any former football players from East, Central or Chase who might be interested in playing. The team has a Facebook page where interested players can reach out to the four. You can search: Rutherford County Alumni Football on Facebook to make contact.

“All I know is I’m going to play it (the game) like it’s my last game,” Adams said.