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Fike High head football coach Henry Trevathan made sure to point out late in the 1969 season that the games kept getting harder and harder each week.
But Trevathan’s Cyclones were getting tougher, too, on their way to a third straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4-A championship. Fike wrapped up its first unbeaten, untied season with a 20-6 conquest of archrival Rocky Mount in the regular-season finale Nov. 7, 1969, at Cyclone Country Stadium. It was the 15th straight win for the two-time defending state champions and the 13th in a row at their stadium, where they had never lost.
“It certainly is nice to finish the regular season with an undefeated record,” Trevathan told Wilson Daily Times sports editor Cliff Turner after the game. “But this Rocky Mount team didn’t give it to us. They fought. I can honestly say they are the toughest team defensively we have faced this season. We had to play their game and their game was hit — and hit hard. Everyone on that team was trying to hit.”
Trevathan said that Gryphons head coach Jim Tapp’s plan was to run to the outside but that his linebackers, especially senior Chip Gibbons did a good job of funneling those forays back inside.
Rocky Mount did a credible job of limiting Fike star senior fullback Carlester Crumpler from scrimmage in the first half. However, Crumpler, who finished with 107 yards on the ground, still managed to inflict damage on the Gryphons via special teams. His 98-yard punt return for a TD with 4:21 to play in the first quarter, set a Wilson high school record, breaking the 72-yarder turned in by George Clark in 1942.
Rocky Mount retaliated on Pete Thompson’s scoring run on fourth down from the Cyclones’ 17-yard line later in the quarter, but the Gryphons were unable to convert the extra-point kick and trailed 7-6.
That score stood until late in the second quarter when Fike wingback Ricky Barnes worked his way into the end zone for his first TD of the season. That scoring drive was helped by the runs of junior Willie Williams, who complemented Crumpler with a season-high 93 yards on 21 carries.
Fike’s defense kept the Gryphons at bay the rest of the way. Gibbons picked off a Rocky Mount pass at the Fike 9-yard line late in the first half. Mark Wenger fell on a Rocky Mount fumble inside the Cyclones’ 20 in the third quarter. Other Fike defensive standouts were Glenn Raby, Harry Lamm, Steve Coggins, Vernon Wall and Steve Musselwhite.
Crumpler finally slammed the door on the Gryphons’ upset hopes with a 3-yard TD in the fourth quarter. He finished with 107 yards, giving him 1,467 yards and 22 TDs on the ground for the season. Senior quarterback George Wilkerson completed passes to Barnes and Williams for 35 yards on five attempts.
The victory was dedicated to the Cyclones’ two injured senior co-captains, Phil Lamm and Stuart Walston.
Despite its perfect record, Fike would have to go on the road for the first round of the playoffs, facing E.E. Smith of Fayetteville.
“Football now is getting back to the type of game we’re used to,” Trevathan said. “The type of game we are going to have to play now is like the score was 0-0. Now we’re getting into the stages where every team is going to be good. All of them are going to be wanting us bad. We are a bigger plum and the further you go, the bigger a plum you are. We don’t want to be plucked.”