The following article was written by Tom Potter and published in the Dade County Sentinel on November 24, 2004 -- the 40th anniversary of the storybook season by the tiny school.
1964 Davis Football Team - Dade County's Only Football State Champion
Davis High School 1964 State Champions - Row 1: Jimmy Hixon, Ricky Gass, Carnell Galloway, John Davidson, Dan Goff, Johnny Mac Brown, Jimmy Adkins, Ronald Avans, C.W. Goff, Steve Dodson, Bobby Womack, and Glen Gray, manager. Row 2: Coach Morrell Holcomb, Steve Stallings, Leonard Shelton, Jimmy Godwin, David Debter, David Lawson, Donald Gray, Ronnie Hundley, Doyle Stephens, Steve Crane, Larry Crane, Byron Ballard, and Johnny Clark.
Undefeated Class C Football State Champions! That was the title of the last high school team from Dade County to win a state championship before the softball team in 2004. It is now the 40th anniversary of the perfect 12-0 season accomplished by an amazing group of athletes from tiny Davis High School on Sand Mountain in 1964. The most exciting game that year was the state semifinal game played at Davis on Thanksgiving Day of 1964.
Back in the years before the merger, there was no bigger event in Dade County than the annual Dade vs. Davis football game. For several years they even played twice. The first time Davis ever beat Dade was when Davis got a new football coach in the fall of 1958. That new coach’s name was Morrell Holcomb.
Six years later, Holcomb led the Yellow Jackets to the 1964 Class C state title. There were five classifications in Georgia at the time, just as there are today. Back then, the classes were AAA, AA, A, B, and C. If there had been a smaller class than C, Davis would have been in it. This was a school that had only 27 students in the senior class.
What was so remarkable was the number of gifted athletes among those 27 seniors. There were nine seniors that played football and six of them made either all-state or all-region. There were seven juniors on the team and only 23 players in all. Holcomb only played 13-16 players once they got into the playoffs. Of course, most played both ways.
Coach Holcomb currently resides on Lookout Mountain in Dade County. He still has vivid memories of that championship season of 40 years ago. “We had dedicated young men,” Holcomb said. “We’d get way ahead because we’d just score so quick, because we were so fast,” the coach added.
Of the nine seniors, speedy C.W. Goff got the most recognition. Goff averaged over 10 yards per carry and was named Class C Back of the Year in Georgia. “He ran about 10.2 in the 100 yard dash and this wasn’t done on a good track either. It was a cinder track. That’s all we ran on back then. He won the region championship in the 100 and 220 and he came in about third in the state,” Holcomb said.
Goff was the fullback and only weighed about 150 pounds. One report had Chattanooga Valley’s coach saying Goff was the fastest back he ever coached against.
Byron Ballard, currently a teacher at Dade County High School, was a sophomore teammate of Goff’s that year. “C.W. was explosive, that’s what made him so good. He was not a powerful back but two steps and he was at full speed,” Ballard said. “I remember them showing C.W. how to stand in the starting blocks when they went to the region track meet (which he won). I’m convinced he could run a legitimate 10 flat (for 100 yards on a good track).”
Steve Dodson was the quarterback of the team. He stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 185 pounds. “He was a real gifted athlete," Holcomb said. "He could throw and he could run good. He had the gift of judging how fast the receiver could run and he’d just lay it right on him. You don’t teach that. It’s just a gift. Not only could he pass and handle the ball, he could punt it and kick it in the end zone on about every kickoff,” Holcomb added. Dodson led the region in punting. He made all-region and all-state honorable mention. He currently lives on Sand Mountain and also has many memories of the season.
The left halfback was another speedster, Ronald Avans. He also made all-region and all-state honorable mention. Besides being a threat running the ball, Avans caught many of Dodson’s passes. “Ronald Avans, he was my main target,” Dodson said. “I’d roll to one side and he’d go out on the other side and stand over there. I’d turn around and throw the ball back to him. That was our screen pass.”
Jimmy Adkins was the right halfback and also made all-region. He was a little guy, but very fast and extremely tough. “He was 127 pounds and one of the toughest boys I ever coached as far as size,” Holcomb said.
In practice, these four speedy backs would run against each other in the 100 yard dash and C.W. Goff would win. “C.W. would beat Ronald Avans by one or two steps in the 100, and Atkins wasn’t too far behind them. They could all run,” Byron Ballard said.
Even Dodson, the big quarterback, could run. The four of them teamed up to win the region track meet in the mile relay. Each of them ran one lap of the track with Goff running the final leg. Davis entered a B team in that same relay and the B team even took third place in the region.
Speed wasn’t the only thing the 1964 Davis Yellow Jackets had. The offensive and defensive lines were anchored by tackle David Lawson. He was named all-region and joined Goff as first team all-state. Lawson currently owns David Lawson Construction Company in Trenton. David Debter was the other senior to make all-region. Debter was a guard. The other seniors were tackle Steve Crane, center Steve Stallings, and end Doyle Stephens.
The junior class had Donald Gray at tackle, Larry Crane at end, John Davidson as backup quarterback, Hurshell Stone at guard, Jimmy Godwin at end, Ricky Gass at running back, and Bobby Womack at guard.
There were six sophomores on the team. They were Byron Ballard, Johnny Mac Brown, Dan Goff, Ronnie Hundley, Carnell Galloway, and Johnny Clark. The lone freshman was Jimmy Hixon.
The high-powered offense scored 339 points that season and averaged 293 yards of total offense per game. The defense only gave up 46 points in 12 games and 20 of those were in the state semifinal game win over Monticello.
In dominating their opponents, the great seniors ended up spending a lot of time on the bench during the regular season. John Davidson, the backup quarterback, is a Sand Mountain resident today. He said recently that he got to play a lot because the starters would give the team a huge lead early in the game. “We were playing in the second quarter and they were sitting on the bench the whole last half and sometimes they were getting upset. They didn’t think it was right,” Davidson said.
“All those seniors were good, Ronald Avans, C.W. Goff, Steve Dodson, and Jimmy Adkins was tough. C.W. Goff was just unreal, of course, and Steve Dodson, I’ll tell you, that was a man. He was an athlete. I don’t doubt that Dodson had as much talent as anybody that’s ever been around here,” Davidson said. “Even the linemen like David Lawson and David Debter and Donald Gray were good. Of course, Gray was a junior that year.”
The Yellow Jackets closed out the 1964 regular season with lopsided wins over their three biggest rivals. First, came a 32-6 thrashing of Gordon Lee. Next, was a 30-6 win over Chattanooga Valley. They ended the regular season with a 46-2 win over the Dade County Wildcats. In the season opener, they had beaten Dade County 13-0.
Quarterback Steve Dodson recently talked about the improvement of the team heading into the playoffs. “We really improved that year from the start to the end of the season. It’s amazing. But, we had a good coach. Coach Holcomb, he was a fabulous coach,” Dodson said. Junior Hamby was Holcomb’s only assistant coach that year.
As Thanksgiving week approached in 1964, there were many things going on in the world. President Lyndon Johnson had recently beaten Barry Goldwater in the presidential election. The Beatles were releasing one hit after another. The Warren Commission issued its report on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Braves received approval to move from Milwaukee to Atlanta. To this small community on Sand Mountain, those things took a back seat to the state semifinal game scheduled to be played at Davis High School on Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving Day 1964 arrived and the talented Monticello Hurricanes made the long trip to face the Yellow Jackets on Sand Mountain. Reports from that time were that over 2,000 people attended the game that night with cars parked anywhere and everywhere around the school grounds.
The Monticello Hurricanes had an all-state 6-foot-6 tight end by the name of Jimmy Jordan. When the game finally ended, Jordan had scored three touchdowns but Davis held on for a 21-20 win. Jordan had caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Joe Gasses and blocked a punt for his other touchdown.
The Davis Yellow Jackets scored their first touchdown when C.W. Goff blocked a punt and David Debter took it into the end zone. Goff later had a 3-yard touchdown run and quarterback Steve Dodson scored the other Davis touchdown from 4-yards out. Dodson ran two of the important extra points and Goff scored the other. There were no two-point conversions at that time.
Coach Holcomb talked about the struggles in that game trying to contain the 6-foot-6 Jordan. “As a junior, Georgia Tech had already offered him a scholarship,” the coach said. “They threw to Jordan and our little short backs couldn’t get up to him.”
Holcomb eventually moved big tackle Steve Crane in front of Jordan at the line of scrimmage. “He was a pretty decent athlete and he was huge. So, we would block him (Jordan) down at the line of scrimmage,” Holcomb said.
The 21-20 semifinal win over Monticello sent the Yellow Jackets to Warrenton, Georgia to play Warren County for the state championship. The title game was played under rainy, foggy conditions and turned into a defensive struggle on a sloppy, muddy field. The Yellow Jackets scored the only touchdown of the game on Steve Dodson's three-yard run in the second quarter.
“In the terrible weather conditions, I didn’t have any heavy backs to make any traction. We were quick but the rain and wet field take quickness away from you. Dodson weighed 185 and he’s the one that scored on the option,” Holcomb explained.
The good field position that started the 42-yard touchdown drive was set up after a quick-kick punt by Dodson put Warren County deep in their own territory. The Yellow Jacket defense gave up 96 yards rushing and another 96 yards passing that day but held Warren County scoreless.
Warren County had a critical third-and-short situation around mid-field in the fourth quarter and tried twice to get the needed first down by running behind their all-state tackle. Both times, the Yellow Jacket defense led by all-state tackle David Lawson and 6-foot-6 Donald Gray stopped the runner short. “David Lawson and Donald Gray were tough and David was much of a man. He was about 205 pounds and Donald was about 220,” Holcomb recalled.
The Yellow Jackets rushed for 101 yards and Steve Dodson was 5-for-7 passing in the game for 70 yards. His biggest completion of the state title game came in the fourth quarter when he hit Ronald Avans over the middle for 40 yards on a critical third down play. “He just went right on through the line down the middle of the field as an extra receiver," Dodson said. "I couldn’t even see him when I threw the ball. I just threw it where I thought he might be. It just went right down in his arms. It was meant to be, I guess.”
.The Yellow Jackets left the muddy field in Warren County that day with a 6-0 win and the Class C state championship. It was something that had never been done by a team from Dade County and it still has not been done in the 40 years since. Before 2004, the only other state titles were in 1957 and 1958 when the Dade County Wildcats won it in baseball.
Time has a way of taking away even the fondest of memories. After graduation, several of the Davis players went to Vietnam. One of those was C.W. Goff. He was wounded and earned a purple heart while serving his country. Goff passed away in 1999 at the age of 52.
Davis School still exists as an elementary school in the same location on Ga. Highway 301 on Sand Mountain. However, there are very few reminders today of the dream season achieved by this group of boys. The old football field on the road behind Davis School has one goalpost at the far end with trees grown up around it. The bleachers are gone and the field itself is now used by a saddle club for horses.
Things were a lot different on the night of November 26, 1964. That’s when over 2,000 people crammed in there to watch the Yellow Jackets defeat Monticello 21-20 in the state semifinals.
Just inside the entrance to Davis Elementary School today is a trophy case. A close look inside it reveals a small trophy that says, “1964 STATE CHAMPS C.”
The Georgia High School Association has a listing of all the state champions on their web site. It simply says “Davis” for Class C football in 1964. There is no indication of where the school was located in Georgia.
In the middle of the New Home Baptist Church cemetery on Sand Mountain is a grave stone that reads, “CARL WILSON GOFF, CPL US MARINE CORPS, VIETNAM, JAN 25 1947 – AUG 29 1999.” On the bottom row it says, “PURPLE HEART.”
To those that know the amazing story, it is the grave of the man everyone knew as C.W. It is the grave of Georgia’s Class C Back of the Year in 1964, a member of the only football team from this county to ever win a state championship.
Published November 24, 2004