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Dear Ole Fair Street and Butler High Schools Football – A look back on the Coach Cabbell Years

I write this article, not to be intended as a historical document, but only to recall some of the experiences I recall from my days at two high schools in Gainesville, Georgia. As I am relying on my own memory, I am sure that I will have some people and times historically wrong. I also realize that there are people that I will leave out, as I just don’t recall at the time of this writing.

My apology for any errors or omissions you may find. There are many more outstanding players not mentioned here that contributed to the success of Fair Street and Butler High School Tigers Football Teams.

Having just recently attending funeral services for former Fair Street and Butler High Schools football coach Cabbell, many thoughts ran through my mind. I had the privilege of sitting with Mr. and Mrs. Cabbell on July 29th and 30th. We visited them at Forsyth County Hospital in Winston Salem. I was amazed at Mr. Cabbell’s memory of times and people (players) in Gainesville. His final service caused me to reflect back:

My early memories was going out to City Park on Friday nights during football season and watching Heyward Clyde, Shot-Bug, Noble Ross, Bear Jackson and many other players. I had even fonder memories when I was able to root for the Tigers when two of my cousins began playing, Robin and Raymond Hudson. Both of them kicked for the Tigers during their time and that inspired me to want to kick. I enjoyed watching Robert Cantrell, Asbury Turner, Tuck Turner, William Johnson, among a few names that I can recall from that era.

Then there was the Championship Years (1956 & 57) brought on even more excitement to Fair Street as the Tigers, lead my Cecil Young, Arthur Moss, Clearance (Big Hanes) Niles, John Keith, Eugene Carrithers, Ellis Cantrell, Eddie Strickland, David Camp, Marshal Carter, Cluster Smith, Willie Ed Stephens, and a host of others. And speaking of David Camp, he was, without a doubt, the best kicker/punter in the history of Fair Street High School.

The Fair Street Tigers, under Coach Cabbell’s leadership, is the only Gainesville public high school teams to win back to back State Championships.

Mr. Cabbell, in my opinion, did one of his finest coaching jobs when he led the 1958 team to another winning season. That year marked the year that eligibility rules (high school equivalent years played) was adopted. This rendered a number of talented players from the championship teams ineligible to play. Among the players lost were Big Hanes Niles, and Grady (Rip) Thomas. Oscar Ivory took over as quarterback and was, on some special plays, replaced by Eugene Carrithers. Eugene Carrithers, Douglas Young, and Cluster Smith were leaders of the team as seniors.

The 1959 season saw the emergence of Larry Ivory as the primary running back. Larry was joined in the backfield by Odell Wimpye. I considered Larry Ivory as our Mister Inside due to his powerful runs and Odell Wimpye as Mister Outside due to his speed. Larry was a versatile player, he ran with power, had some of the moves in the open field that we saw in Eugene Carrithers, and was almost as fast as Odell Wimpye. In addition to running back, Larry also played middle linebacker on defense. Key players on this team were Curtis Wright and Richard Brooks. Those 2 anchored one side of the offensive and defensive lines and were a great team. Fred Stovall emerged as center on offense. I always wondered how a player as light as Fred (Dinky) Stovall was able to play center and not miss a single game due to injury. Dinky was a very mischievous player. Dinky would always sneak up on unsuspecting defenders and throw a vicious block. During my years as punter for Fair Street, I can only recall one time that Dinky made a bad snap (pros aren’t that good). Dinky playing center with his size was another testimony to Coach Cabbell’s leadership. I can think of no other coach that would allow a player that size to play the center position. I always considered William Johnson to have been a very good center. William had the size to play the position and played it well in the championship years. Dinky played the position much like William played it. Other key players were Melvin Faulkner, Curtis Young, Loren Hester, James Hemphill, Curtis Wright and Richard Brooks (again), and Leonard Harbin.

In 1960, Mr. Cabbell found another gem of a runner. No one ever thought of Roger Smith as running back. Players with his size had normally excelled as offensive and defensive linemen at Fair Street. Mr. Cabbell saw the potential in Roger (who later became known as Big Red) and developed him into a highly accomplished fullback. Big Red had a combination of size, power, and speed. I always thought of Big Red as Mr. Cabbell’s creation (don’t get excited, The Good Lord created James Roger Smith, Mr. Cabbell created Big Red).

Many of the former Fair Street and Butler High Players are no longer with us, as well as our heralded football coach, Mr. Cabbell. Those that have passed include:

Robert Cantrell Very Powerful Running Back;

Clifford Stephens Outstanding Wide Receiver*;

Noble Ross Defensive Tackle;

Clifford Stephens Fullback*;

Arthur Moss Wide Receiver*

Raymond Hudson Quarterback/Kicker/Punter;

Robin Hudson Wide receiver/Kicker/Punter**;

Cluster Smith Tackle*

Willie Ed Stephens Tackle*

Marshall Carter Fullback*

Curtis Wright Guard/Tackle;

Harry James Cobb Quarterback;

Ollis Williams Quarterback’

Raymond Roper Tight End/Defensive End;

Loring Hester Defensive Back;

Stanley Taylor Running Back;

Earnest Morrison Defensive End;

Ellis Cantrell Fullback*

Cecil Young Quarterback*;

Richard Wright Quarterback;

Fred (Dinky) Stovall Center;

James Roger Smith Fullback/Middle Linebacker;

Mr. E.L. Cabbell Head Coach.


(*) Member of Championship Teams

(**) Buried in Arlington National Cemetery