Mark Clark: Hall should include these athletes in first class

Earlier this year, the Phenix City Board of Education discussed naming a building in honor of former South Girard High basketball coach James Patrick. While discussing that, it was suggested late Central High basketball coach James B. Redd be honored as well. The discussions ended with nothing being done immediately. Instead, the PCBOE approved a suggestion that a study be done on beginning a Hall of Fame. That is something I think we all should get behind.

As far as my feelings go, I would like to see a Sports Hall of Fame be established in some manner at Central High. I also think another Hall of Fame should also be established for non-sports people associated with the school system. There are a lot of former students of the system who have gone on to fame and fortune who have no affiliation with sports and they are deserving of being honored in some way.

Just to get some attention back on the idea of a Sports Hall of Fame for Central High, I have listed a few people who should be among the first to be inducted. They are as follows:

David Eugene Ray, Jr. graduated from Central High where he was a three-sport star and went on to play football for the University of Alabama where he was an All-American place-kicker in 1964. He also played wide receiver for the Crimson Tide. He was selected in the 16th round of the 1966 NFL Draft. He played for the Los Angeles Rams until 1974. In 1973, Pro Football Weekly named Ray its Golden Toe Award winner. Ray scored 130 points in 1973 to lead the league in scoring.

Woodrow Lowe, like Ray, graduated from Central High where he was a member of the school’s football and track teams. He went on to the University where he played linebacker and was a three-time All-American – the only one to play for legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Lowe played on four SEC championship teams and on one National Championship team while at Alabama. He holds the record for most tackles in a season with 134 and ranks third all-time in total tackles in his career with 315. He was selected in the fifth round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played 11 seasons with the Chargers and was named to the Chargers’ 40th and 50th Anniversary teams. During his career he had 21 interceptions and returned four of them for touchdowns.

Joe C. Meriweather graduated from Central High in 1972 where he was a basketball star and the tallest player ever to be a member of the Red Devils basketball squad. He played college basketball at Southern Illinois University. Meriweather was the 11th player selected in the first round of the 1975 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. He was named to the First Team All-Rookie squad. He spent 10 seasons in the NBA with five different teams. He spent one season in Granarolo Bologna in Italy. Meriweather coached the Kansas City Mustangs of the Women’s Basketball Association professional league to an undefeated season in 1994. He was the coach of the women’s basketball team at Park University in Parkville, Missouri from 1997 to 2010. Meriweather died in 2013.

Harvey Glance graduated from Central High in 1975 as a State Champion track star. He went on to run track at Auburn University and made the 1976 United States Olympic team. Glance twice equaled the World Record in the 100 meters in 1976 and ranked No. 1 in the event in the United States. He had the fastest time in the preliminaries of the 100 meters at the 1976 Olympics, but finished fourth in the finals. He ran the opening leg of the 4 x 100 meters for the gold medal winning relay team in those same Olympics. Through his 12-year career as a competitor, Glance ranked between first and sixth in the United States. He coached the track teams at both Auburn University and the University of Alabama.

Leroy Propst graduated from Central High in 1945 as a star football player. While with the Red Devils, Propst earned All-Southern twice – equal to making All-American – and played on the school’s first undefeated and untied football team in 1944. The Red Devils were 9-0 that season. Central did not have another undefeated and untied team until 2018 when it won the Class 7A state title. Propst played fullback, linebacker, punt return man, kickoff return man and was the team’s kicker/place kicker. He led the Bi-City in scoring and rushing as a senior. His best games came during the 9-0 season against Columbus High and against Alabama’s top high school football team the Sidney Lanier High Poets. Propst signed to play college football at Auburn University, but joined the Merchant Marines for the duration of World War II.

There, you have my suggestions for five deserving candidates. Think about who you would want to see honored and let the PCBOE members know.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for The Citizen of East Alabama.