Wildwood Wildcats 2018 1A State Champs Boys & Girls

Discussion in 'Main Sports Forum' started by Fodderwing, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. Fodderwing

    Fodderwing Member
    Lifetime Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    25
    Oxbucks:
    $29
    Ratings:
    +29 / -0
    In 2017 the Wildwood boys lost in the FSHAA basketball finals and the girls won.

    In 2018 the girls repeated as Champs and the boys won, too.

    My hometown.

    How cool is that.
     
    • deuce

      deuce No Mas!
      Lifetime Member

      Joined:
      Jun 11, 2014
      Messages:
      3,488
      Oxbucks:
      $204
      Ratings:
      +1,312 / -53
      My wife is from Wildwood!
       
    • Fodderwing

      Fodderwing Member
      Lifetime Member

      Joined:
      Feb 2, 2017
      Messages:
      25
      Oxbucks:
      $29
      Ratings:
      +29 / -0
      I graduated in '79 from WHS. Lived there from 1961 to 1989, mom, a sister, a brother and a wad of nieces, great nieces and nephews still there.
       
      #3 Fodderwing, Mar 6, 2018
      Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
    • BMF

      BMF Junior Member
      Lifetime Member

      Joined:
      Sep 8, 2014
      Messages:
      8,224
      Oxbucks:
      $3,177
      Ratings:
      +8,616 / -93
      Who?
       
      • deuce

        deuce No Mas!
        Lifetime Member

        Joined:
        Jun 11, 2014
        Messages:
        3,488
        Oxbucks:
        $204
        Ratings:
        +1,312 / -53
        From the Orlando Sentinel

        WILDWOOD -- The town grew out of watermelon fields and railroad tracks.

        But the passion of Wildwood was, and is, high school football.

        Never was that more true than in 1964, when the Wildcats lived out a story similar to the one chronicled in the Indiana high school basketball movie, Hoosiers. Often undersized, overmatched and outnumbered, the Wildcats finished 12-0 and won the state championship by beating Lake City Columbia 12-7 in the Class A championship game at Florida Field in Gainesville.

        [​IMG]
        [​IMG]
        The opponent was typical of the teams Wildwood faced.

        The Wildcats, with an offensive line that averaged just 168 pounds, were built around a core of 18 players. When Columbia took the field on Dec. 11, 1964, it made Lester Lucas, Wildwood's all-state left tackle, pause.

        "I wondered, 'What was the University of Florida doing here? They weren't supposed to be practicing.' It looked like they had 60 or 70 players," said Lucas, 60. "They beat us to death in the first half. At halftime, it was 0-0. That was the only game that year where I felt defeated."

        Wildwood, which never trailed during the season and outscored opponents 348-58, had been beaten down: By halftime, Columbia had 11 first downs, Wildwood one; Columbia had 181 yards rushing, Wildwood 27.

        In his final game as Wildwood's coach, Byrd Whigham delivered an inspirational speech before the final two quarters.

        "He was a genius," said Ronnie Phillips, 61, the starting left guard.

        Suddenly, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns by the Jones brothers -- Danny and Randy -- stunning the crowd of about 6,000, and putting Wildwood up 12-0. Danny Jones scored on a 52-yard pass from quarterback Hamp Johnson. Later, concluding a 65-yard drive, Randy Jones scored from 2 yards.

        "We were quick, we were well-coached and we ran a ball-control offense," said Johnson, 60, a cardiovascular surgeon in Ormond Beach. "That was how we did it."

        The late Van McKenzie, former sports editor of the Orlando Sentinel, covered Wildwood as an assistant sports editor for the Ocala Star-Banner. McKenzie wrote in an e-mail to Lucas in 2001 that Wildwood's victory against Columbia was one of the 10 most memorable events he covered.

        "It was one of the gutsiest performances I've ever seen," wrote McKenzie, who was sports editor at six papers and covered World Series, Super Bowls and Olympics. "Lake City had a great, great team, much bigger and faster and with lots more depth than Wildwood. . . . Facing a third-and-inches for a first down . . . at about midfield in the third quarter, Whigham called for the bomb. It went for a TD, and you guys won the game.

        "Afterwards, I asked Whigham why he didn't just go for the first down, and he deadpanned, 'Cause first downs don't win football games. Touchdowns do.' "

        * * *

        It was the first of two state titles for Wildwood (the second came in 1970).

        Back in '64, few people gave Wildwood a chance.

        The FHSAA's state football championship program was in its second year. It was offered only for the state's largest schools -- Class AA and Class A.

        [​IMG]
        With 97 boys in its top three grades -- then the standard used to determine a school's classification -- Wildwood didn't qualify among the state's biggest schools. But Whigham wanted his players to have a chance to compete for a state title and asked the FHSAA whether the school could move up to Class A.

        Wildwood already played in the Orange Belt Conference against mostly Class A schools, including Leesburg, Kissimmee Osceola, Winter Garden Lakeview (now West Orange), Lyman and DeLand. The conference's coaches picked Wildwood to finish fifth.

        Wildwood, a team of proud, rural farm boys, dominated the conference but still needed a late schedule change to make the playoffs, which were determined by points on a strength-of-schedule basis. Wildwood replaced Class B Lake Weir with Class A Eustis as the season was winding down. A victory against undefeated Eustis, a tougher, bigger opponent, would give Wildwood the points it needed to reach the playoffs.

        Wildwood won its second game in three days, 27-13.

        "It wasn't like we sat around, wringing our hands saying, 'How are we going to do this?' " said captain and starting center Ronnie Perry, 61, who now lives in Granite Falls, N.C. "We were so conditioned to winning back then that I truly believe if we had to play back-to-back games, we would have won both of them. Losing never was an option. We were going to win. There was no question about it."

        * * *

        The Wildcats were small, strong, swift -- and united.

        Summers spent working in the town's watermelon fields, picking and throwing melons, did wonders for strength and conditioning in the days before weight training. The players were inseparable, working and playing together.

        "I don't think it is a word that we used back then, but we loved each other," Lucas said.

        Most stay in touch today, and many live, or have returned, to their hometown.

        Unfortunately, not all the teammates are still around. Randy Jones, the team's leading scorer with 19 touchdowns, was killed in a car accident in August 1971 after having dinner with Lucas. Danny Jones, second in scoring with 11 TDs, also was killed in an auto accident while hunting two years later.

        Joe West, the team's fullback and third-leading scorer, died of a heart attack while playing golf

        "We had a unique chemistry because we all grew up and played together," Johnson said.

        Phillips said 44 years later, he still can't believe Wildwood won the state title. Lucas took it further.

        "Outside of personal family stuff, it was the most significant thing that happened in my life," Lucas said.
         
        • BostonGator84

          BostonGator84 Infrequent Frequenter

          Joined:
          Jun 12, 2014
          Messages:
          335
          Oxbucks:
          $28
          Ratings:
          +154 / -1
          All I know about Wildwood is that's right about where the turnpike shoots off from I-75. But congrats to them - winning a state title is never easy, and to do it in two sports in the same year, very impressive.
           
        • GatorJ

          GatorJ Hopeful
          Moderator

          Joined:
          Jun 11, 2014
          Messages:
          13,362
          Oxbucks:
          $2,257
          Ratings:
          +10,019 / -71
          All I know about Wildwood is one time I was driving through it and I saw a woman nursing a baby and smoking a cigarette while driving a car.
           
          • BMF

            BMF Junior Member
            Lifetime Member

            Joined:
            Sep 8, 2014
            Messages:
            8,224
            Oxbucks:
            $3,177
            Ratings:
            +8,616 / -93
            Great story. Days gone by. With the internet and the world being so much smaller stories like these probably won't exist in the future unless it's some rural west Texas or rural Oklahoma town.

            I look back at my HS days (I graduated in 1988) and it was so much different than it is today. Many HS programs are like small college programs!
             
          • Fodderwing

            Fodderwing Member
            Lifetime Member

            Joined:
            Feb 2, 2017
            Messages:
            25
            Oxbucks:
            $29
            Ratings:
            +29 / -0
            Ronnie Phillips is my brother in law.

            My middle brother was an all state QB on the 1970 team that beat Port St Joe.

            Wildwood girls beat PSJ for their title a week or so ago.

            Wildwood and PSJ played for the football title in 1985, PSJ won that time.
             
          • Fodderwing

            Fodderwing Member
            Lifetime Member

            Joined:
            Feb 2, 2017
            Messages:
            25
            Oxbucks:
            $29
            Ratings:
            +29 / -0
            My paternal grandfather, my maternal grandfather, a step-grandfather and my father all worked for the railroad.

            We also grew 100 to 120 acres of watermelons every year until my father died in 1995.
             
            • Fodderwing

              Fodderwing Member
              Lifetime Member

              Joined:
              Feb 2, 2017
              Messages:
              25
              Oxbucks:
              $29
              Ratings:
              +29 / -0
              Randy & Danny Jones had a younger sister that died in a car wreck. Three sibling from one family killed in vehicle accidents.

              Corky Jones, fourth oldest Jones brother, was a freshman running back on the 1970 team. He could have gone to college, but he "had to get married" and go to work for the railroad. Yep, times have changed indeed.
               
            • Theologator

              Theologator Enchanter

              Joined:
              Aug 11, 2015
              Messages:
              2,061
              Oxbucks:
              $1,759
              Ratings:
              +2,466 / -21
              Wildwood is also the hometown of Ellis Johnson, who belongs in any discussion on the greatest DTs in UF history.

              When I-75 & the turnpike bypassed Wildwood, it really hurt. It’s getting some new life as The Villages has wrapped around its eastern edges.
               
              • Theologator

                Theologator Enchanter

                Joined:
                Aug 11, 2015
                Messages:
                2,061
                Oxbucks:
                $1,759
                Ratings:
                +2,466 / -21
                We were in Belleview for 11 years & 2 sons went through high school there. We’d play Wildwood every now and then and they were always tough as nails.
                 
                #13 Theologator, Mar 7, 2018
                Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
                • GatorTAG

                  GatorTAG Paid Member
                  Lifetime Member

                  Joined:
                  Oct 21, 2014
                  Messages:
                  3,726
                  Oxbucks:
                  $12
                  Ratings:
                  +2,807 / -35
                  Leave it to a newbie with a story about Wildwood to bring me out of retirement. Thanks for posting Fodderwing.

                  My Aunt was married to Byrd Wigham for a short bit. Ronnie Perry is my uncle. My Dad played for Wildwood back then. Another uncle of mine is Dub Palmer. I have lots of family in Wildwood including my mom.
                   
                  • stephenPE

                    stephenPE Senior Member
                    Lifetime Member

                    Joined:
                    Jul 20, 2014
                    Messages:
                    12,408
                    Oxbucks:
                    $1,013
                    Ratings:
                    +5,094 / -254
                    Great name Fodderwing. As a boy dad drove us through Wildwood on the way to Lakeland from Gville. All those train tracks still stand out.
                    We never stopped there. I remember just south was Coleman and Bevilles Corner and Webster heading to 98. I did have a volkswagon fixed just south of the Turnpike on that road. (301?)
                     
                    • LagoonGator68

                      LagoonGator68 Well-Used Member
                      Lifetime Member

                      Joined:
                      Jun 12, 2014
                      Messages:
                      4,583
                      Oxbucks:
                      $248
                      Ratings:
                      +2,384 / -89
                      Two key landmarks before interstate coming back north, Yee Haw Junction and Wildwood! Good times....
                       
                      • Swamp Queen

                        Swamp Queen Mrs. Sasquatch
                        Lifetime Member

                        Joined:
                        Jun 11, 2014
                        Messages:
                        4,020
                        Oxbucks:
                        $1,120
                        Ratings:
                        +5,874 / -37
                        Great grandfather used to sell watermelons up in Wildwood...would drive them up from Alturas.
                         
                        • AGR1447

                          AGR1447 New Member

                          Joined:
                          Feb 3, 2016
                          Messages:
                          4
                          Oxbucks:
                          $8
                          Ratings:
                          +8 / -0
                          Good for them! I played against Wildwood in high school.
                           
                          • crosscreekcooter

                            crosscreekcooter Cunning Linguist

                            Joined:
                            Jun 11, 2014
                            Messages:
                            7,130
                            Oxbucks:
                            $1,354
                            Ratings:
                            +5,456 / -6
                            I love watermelons
                             
                          • deuce

                            deuce No Mas!
                            Lifetime Member

                            Joined:
                            Jun 11, 2014
                            Messages:
                            3,488
                            Oxbucks:
                            $204
                            Ratings:
                            +1,312 / -53
                            Your Aunt is Sally?
                             

                            Share This Page

                            Chat

                            Help

                            You don't have the necessary permissions to use the chat.

                            1. There are currently no users chatting.