Carter County Hall of Fame opens door for 16 inductees

Douglas Fritz • Updated Jun 13, 2017 at 10:42 PM

Carter County has produced its fair share of standout athletes, but memories of their accomplishments stood the risk of fading away.

That issue changed when C.Y. Peters, Steve Lowe and Jamie Combs worked together to create the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame. Now in its sixth year, the organization will honor 16 inductees for its Class of 2017.

The induction ceremony and banquet will take place Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Elizabethton.

Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey will be the guest speaker.

“Our Hall of Fame is growing, and we want to recognize Carter County sports people on all levels, which includes players, coaches and contributors,” said Peters. “Our goal is to build a Hall of Fame building so all these great athletes’ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can brag about their family accomplishments for generations to come.”

Included in the mix for this year’s class is former Cloudland football standout Mark Byrd, legendary Unaka basketball coach Donald Ensor, former Elizabethton athlete Ninnie Norwood, Happy Valley’s “Touchdown” Tommy Sams, Elizabethton football great John Pansock, and Hampton basketball powerhouse Alice Peters.

“We have a great class again this year,” said Peters. “We can’t wait until we induct many more in the years to come.”

Here’s a capsule look at each of this year’s inductees:



When Andrews graduated from Hampton High, he ranked as the school’s all-time leading rusher with close to 2,900 yards. Part of four playoff teams, he served as the Bulldogs’ top ground gainer in each of his final two seasons.

As a senior and honorable mention all-stater, Andrews gained a then-school record 1,455 yards on the ground, seized the Watauga Conference scoring championship (99 points), and helped carry the Bulldogs to the Class AA state quarterfinals (9-2 record).



After thriving as a player for Elizabethton and Carson-Newman, Arnett enjoyed a tremendous collegiate coaching career at Bluefield, Newberry and Tusculum. During his 14 years with Tusculum, he produced a 439-152 record, 10 South Atlantic Conference championships, and 13 NCAA tournament appearances.

In 1968, Arnett and fellow senior Tim Sheffield were the first players to ever represent Elizabethton at the state tennis tournament.



A four-time All-Watauga Conference player for Unaka, Bowers also earned honorable-mention status as an eighth-grader. He made all-conference at five positions — offensive guard, defensive guard, fullback, wingback and linebacker — nabbed the Watauga scoring crown (81 points) as a junior (1954), and contributed to four league titles.

Helping the Rangers go 36-13-1 record during his five-year stay, Bowers accounted for 13 touchdowns in 1954 with seven covering 50 or more yards.



Buckles is poised to enter his 43rd year as public-address announcer for the Rangers. In 2011, he received the TSSAA’s prestigious A.F. Bridges award as a contributor.

The 1957 Unaka graduate helped launch the Stoney Creek Youth Club and put in many years performing various roles, including coaching, within the organization. He and Ernie Peters announced youth club games before becoming the first individuals to handle those duties for the high school football team.



A four-year starter (QB/DB) during his time at Cloudland, Byrd emerged a three-time all-state performer and won the 2003 Mr. Football award (top back) in Class 1A. He gained more than 9,000 career yards (all-purpose), grabbed 30-plus interceptions and played in the 2001 state championship game.

Byrd also helped the Highlanders reach the 2002 semifinals and post a 46-5 record over his four seasons. He gained 4,759 career yards on 460 carries while also passing for 2,682 yards and 37 TDs.



Three times an all-league performer, Cloudland’s Campbell was twice named Most Valuable Player of the Smoky Mountain Conference.

A senior on the Lady Highlanders’ first-ever substate team (1990-91), Campbell accumulated exactly 1,300 career points before playing collegiately for Lees-McRae. Over the course of Campbell’s four varsity seasons, Cloudland would pile up 95 victories, including 31 in a row in her senior year.



Church totaled more than 1,100 career points for Cloudland, leading the team in scoring in back-to-back seasons (1975-76, 1976-77). He was twice voted honorable mention all-state and later played collegiately.

Church averaged 19.5 points a game as he threatened for the Watauga’s regular-season scoring title as a junior.



Over the course of his 12 seasons (1993-2005) atop Unaka’s program, Ensor coached the Rangers to three state tournaments — including the 2004 Class A state championship (one of only four in Carter County boys basketball history). He compiled a 250-153 career record with eight conference, seven District 1-A and four Region 1-A championships.

As an athlete, he was a three-sport standout, playing a prominent role on the school’s first state tournament team in basketball (1985).



Beginning with the 1978-79 winter sports season, Hunt’s career as Elizabethton’s public-address announcer has encompassed all or part of five decades. He’s worked football and basketball for 38 and 35 years, respectively, and is a member of the Elizabethton Sports Hall of Fame.

Hunt devoted 30 years to the school as a math teacher/guidance counselor.



Maxwell scored six touchdowns against Boones Creek in his junior year (1949) and became the Watauga Conference’s first Most Valuable Player a year later — throwing a dozen TD passes over a six-game schedule.

Furthermore, he served as a key cog in the Happy Valley’s run to the 1950 state basketball crown — averaging approximately 10 points per contest.


Basketball, track & field

The 1988 Class AAA girls state shot-put champion, Norwood also was a four-time all-conference basketball player for Elizabethton, netting 1,236 career points and averaging 12 rebounds a game.

Putting in two seasons of junior college hoops for Walters State, Norwood remains on school’s top-25 list for career rebounds (21st with 366).



Voted All-East Tennessee by the Knoxville News-Sentinel in each of his final two seasons at Elizabethton (1968-69), Pansock won the 1968 Big Seven Conference scoring title (73 points) before attracting All-American and all-state recognition a year later.

As a senior, Pansock rushed for 1,300-plus yards, amassed more than 2,000 all-purpose yards, scored 21 touchdowns and finished 10th in the state in scoring with 138 points as the Cyclones gained a share of the Big Seven championship.



From fourth grade (Unaka) through high school (Hampton), Peters was part of nine consecutive regional basketball titles. She contributed to three state tournament teams at Hampton, amassing career numbers of 1,500-plus points and close to 1,000 rebounds.

As a Lady Bulldog from 1997 to 2001, Peters made four all-region (MVP in 2001) and three all-district (MVP in 2000) tournament squads. Alice was picked as the Johnson City Press’ Northeast Tennessee player of the year as a senior.



“Touchdown” Tommy Sams lived up to his nickname by amassing a school-record 66 TDs — including a single-season best 32 as a senior (1992) — during his four-year stay atop Warrior Hill. He remains Happy Valley’s all-time leading rusher for a career (5,081 yards) and season (2,155).

A three-time 1,000-yard back and two-time all-state honoree (1990, 1992), Sams was a Mr. Football finalist in his final season.


Track & field

The most accomplished athlete in the history of Hampton High track and field, Trivette ran to three Class A boys state championships for the Bulldogs — winning the 880-yard run in 1980 before showing the way in the 800- and 1,600-meter events one year later. His 880 time (2:00.1) broke the Class A record in the final year the event was held at the state level, so that mark stands to this day.


Cross country, track & field

All-State four times in cross country and three times in track while at Happy Valley, Williams was state runner-up in the 1,600 meters as a senior. Also in state competition, she posted two third-place finishes in the 3,200, twice placed third in the cross country meet, and posted a pair of sixth-place efforts in the 1,600.


Mountain City’s Ralph Stout (officiating) will receive an honorary induction Saturday night. For additional information about this year’s event, contact Peters at 895-5806 or visit carterhalloffame.com

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