Forrest winners abound, past and present

Friday, October 23, 2015
The Forrest Rockets pose for a team photo at the beginning of the 1975 season. Tribune archive photos

Legendary 1975 team celebrates 40th reunion

When the Forrest Rockets take to the field this week against Eagleville at Murrey E. Holton Field in Chapel Hill, they will win the Region 4AA championship with a victory over the Eagles and on hand will be another special group of winners.

The 1975 Forrest team will hold its 40th reunion from a season where it posted a 10-1 record and claimed a 20-9 victory in the Crockett Bowl at Lawrenceburg.

"I'm proud that Forrest is playing so well, and as special as Friday night will be celebrating the '75 season, nothing would make me happier than to see the current team beat Eagleville and capture the region championship on our home field," said 1975 team member and reunion organizer David Cooper.

It's 1975, and...

For memories sake, here are a few of the happenings in 1975 when the Rockets compiled that magical season.

Jaws, The Longest Yard, Benji and Old Yeller played at the Hi-Way 50 Drive-In and a chicken dinner to take to the movies cost $1.39 at Ken's Fast Foods.

Heil Quaker captured the 1975 Little League crown with a 15-3 record.

The Jaycees won the Babe Ruth title with a 10-4 record and Heil Quaker took the Little League crown with a 15-3 mark.

Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Coo Coo Marlin, Buddy Baker and Benny Parsons raced for the Music City USA 420 title at Nashville Speedway, while Steve Hobbs was playing in Little League with Parsons Pharmacy.

Lee Majors was at Henry Horton State Park playing in the celebrity Four Star Golf Tournament and Guy Chambers took the Marshall County Invitational golf title at the Rec Center.

Shona Whaley broke a big barrier when she became the first girl to play Little League ball in Marshall County for Faber Casteel.

Inspiring coach

Now the Rockets.

The squad was coached by Murrey E. Holton, who was in his third season at Forrest. Wayne Aldridge was the assistant coach.

"Murrey installed the wishbone and we started winning," Cooper said. "He would emphasis defense, knowing your assignments and playing tough. "Murrey was at his best with the halftime adjustments, and it usually ended with an animated speech to fire us up going into the second half."

Holton's brother, Tony, was the quarterback for the Rockets, who also had Steve Turner, Dederick Yeargin, Larry Curtis and Jimmy Henson on the squad.

The Homecoming float gets ready to go in front of Forrest School in 1975.

Forrest shut out Cornersville 20-0 to open the season and followed with 41-0 romp of Saint Andrews.

Exciting upset

In Week 3, Forrest was a big underdog against a stout Spring Hill team that featured tight end McDonald Oden, who would go on to play for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL.

The Rockets upset the Raiders 7-6 at Chapel Hill and Cooper saved the day for Forrest, blocking the Spring Hill extra point that would turn out to be the difference in the game.

"The best memory from that season was probably beating Spring Hill," said Cooper, who also had 10 tackles in the game. "They were supposed win and had a huge amount of talent."

Tony Holton's 10-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Griffy was the only score for the Rockets.

"The town went wild that night," Cooper said.

Win after win

The Rockets took on Page next and beat the Patriots 14-0 as Henson hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass from Tony Holton, while Cooper blocked a punt in the contest.

Next up was Flintville and the Rockets took a 21-7 victory as Cooper had a TD catch and made 11 tackles.

Forrest blanked Lynnville 40-0 in the next game as Cooper led the defense with 11 tackles.

The following week, the Rockets moved to 7-0 when they recorded their fifth shutout of the campaign, blanking Woodbury 14-0.

The 1975 Homecoming Court pose on the Lions Club Memorial Field at Chapel Hill.

Lisa Brown was crowned Homecoming Queen in Week 8 as the Rockets squeezed by Blanche 15-14.

Quick rebound

Forrest's only setback of the season came in Lynchburg when the Raiders blanked the Rockets 9-0.

The Rockets won the season finale 14-6 against Huntland, but missed the playoffs because in those days, only one team from the region qualified and Lynchburg, by virtue of its win against Forrest, earned the spot.

It was on to the Crockett Bowl against a Loretto team that Forrest had lost twice to in scrimmages before the season.

Willie McCord, T. Wade Holton, Cooper and Joe Turley combined for four sacks in the fourth quarter to spark the win over the Mustangs, marking the last time Forrest has appeared in a bowl game.

Forty years after the glorious 1975 season, Forrest Homecoming Queen Shelby Eden comes through Chapel Hill in the parade. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

Eight seniors

Forrest had eight seniors on its 25-man roster that season which also included Ken Lamb, Ricky Hazel, Kenney Sweeney, Chuck Andrews, Norman Doggett, Ken Elmore, Steve Boots, Dexter Norris, Kerry Winchester, Randy Lamb, Ronnie Taylor and Duane Floyd.

The Class of '75 will be honored at halftime tonight at the field named after their beloved coach.

"As far as what Murrey would say on nights like this," Cooper said, "He was very passionate about the team and especially playing your best for the fans in Chapel Hill. The whole town would come out for the games."