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It was no surprise that Kinston’s Grainger High gave the Fike Cyclones the toughest test they would have through the first four games of their 1969 state championship varsity football season. After all, the Red Devils were coached by Wally Dunham, who had instituted the Cyclones’ famous unbalanced offensive line as an assistant coach under Fike leader Henry Trevathan.
However, Dunham might have known all about the Fike offense and defense but he never coached the Cyclones’ tall, sinewy speed demon and he was about to get an introduction to senior Carlester Crumpler. “Crump” mashed the Red Devils defense to the tune of 224 yards and five touchdowns, all on the ground, in Fike’s 40-22 victory at Grainger Stadium in Kinston.
But it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The Red Devils actually led 22-20 at halftime but the Fike defense — led by Chip Gibbons, Dan Killebrew, Stuart Walston, Glenn Raby and Wayne Musselwhite — shut out Kinston in the second half.
Dunham’s single-wing attack, however, caused confusion in the first half for Cyclones defenders. Red Devils quarterback Don Lightfoot threw a 38-yard TD pass to Reggie Bryant and Kinston converted the two-point run for an 8-0 lead.
Fike countered with a 66-yard drive in seven plays, including a 34-yard connection from quarterback George Wilkerson to Clark Davis. Crumpler finished with a 4-yard scoring run and Mike Foster hit the PAT kick.
But the home team wasn’t going away anytime soon. Bryant darted 31 yards and another two-point run gave Kinston a 16-7 lead through one quarter.
Fike came back with another scoring drive, highlighted by senior Phil Lamm’s 29-yard gain after returning from an ankle injury. Crumpler glided the final 15 yards of the drive.
Each team scored again for the half but it was only Fike that found the end zone in the second half. Lamm’s 34-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter led off the drive, highlighted by runs from Willie Williams and Crumpler, who finally punched the ball in and, despite a missed PAT kick, Fike led 26-22.
In the fourth quarter, Crumpler cashed in two Kinston turnovers into long TD runs. Gibbons intercepted Lightfoot, leading to an 88-yard Crumpler run, while a fumble recovery set up Crumpler’s 52-yard jaunt to the end zone to finish off the first loss of the season for the Red Devils after four wins.
The Cyclones’ star fullback was quick to praise his teammates after being named, along with Gibbons, one of the team’s players of the week at the Tuesday night Booster Club meeting.
“I’ve got to give the other boys on the club a lot of credit,” Crumpler said. “I’ve played some of these fellows for three years and you get to know each other. You learn their moves and they learn yours. It’s nice to have guys like Dan Killebrew, Stuart Walston and the others blocking for you when you’re running.”
Fike finished with 420 offensive yards with Lamm and Williams rushing for 57 and 51, respectively, and Wilkerson picking up another 49.
After two games on the road, Fike, now 5-0, would return to the friendly confines of its Cyclone Country Stadium, which wouldn’t be so friendly for the Cyclones’ foe and former Eastern 4-A Conference rival Raleigh Broughton.