Glenn Adams, the running back who would score the winning touchdowns in the state championship victory months later, still remembers two-a-day practices in August. How could he not?
Before the Greenwood Laboratory School 1981 Football Team reached its destiny, it first had to journey through … a Springfield city park.
“Coach (Paul) Mullins made us run over to Phelps Grove Park and had certain times for the skill guys and certain times for the linemen,” Adams said. “If you didn’t make it in time, you ran it again. So, yes, we were ready to play.”
That may be an understatement. The Greenwood Blue Jays surged through that fall to become Springfield’s first state championship football team, doing so with a snarling defense and what Adams called a “well-oiled machine” of an offense. And it’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame is proud to induct Greenwood’s ’81 team with the Class of 2017.
The induction is part of the annual Football Kickoff Luncheon presented by the Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company, set for 11 a.m. Monday, October 16 at the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center. (For tickets, call 417-889-3100).
Those Blue Jays beat Gallatin 14-0 in the Class 1 championship to finish 10-1 in a season that was the definition of teamwork, and perhaps also defined the phrase “on a mission.”
The year before, Greenwood suffered a 14-6 setback to Hardin-Central in the state championship and had much of the firepower back on the roster.
The offense featured quarterback Anthony Frazier, tight end Mark Jester, tackles Bill Cook and Mark Saladin, guards Tom Chamberlin and Rich Hardie, center Scott McCaulley, split end Tom Stone, fullback John Stinson and running backs Adams and Brad Armstrong.
Many of those guys played Iron Man football, never leaving the field when it came time to play defense, a unit that also featured Karl Scholz at nose tackle, Tom Dalton at a linebacker, Rod Stout at cornerback and defensive back Skip McCaulley, who went to play for the University of Missouri.
Other notables on the team included B.J. Thomas, Daniel Boone and Jim Robinette.
“We had some great athletes at the skill positions and then we had role players who would do anything to win,” said Mullins, a 2000 Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “They were tough and determined and loved the game.”
The seeds to the championship were arguably planted when the seniors of the 1981 team were freshman. The varsity finished 1-9 in 1978.
“We were at a low point in athletics with football,” Mullins said. “We had very few numbers. So the kids had to start as freshmen or, if they didn’t start, they played a lot.”
To Frazier, inspiration was found in a couple of the seniors on that 1978 team as they grinded out the season. And the seniors on the 1980 team, which came within nine points of winning state at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, carried the same meaning to returning players.
“For seniors, it meant capping off something not only for us but for the class ahead of you,” Frazier said. “At the start of two-a-days, we were focused on getting back to St. Louis. We had a laser-sharp focus from day one.”
Adams viewed that team through this lense – a team of guys from all different sorts of financial and cultural backgrounds. In 1981, the only setback was to Marionville. Saladin remembers it all.
“Glenn Adams was an amazing athlete. Anthony Frazier was an amazing athlete,” Saladin said. “Those guys helped us all believe in ourselves. They made us good. So did Coach Mullins.”
Frazier vividly remembers a key win against Cass-Midway that sprang Greenwood on to the championship game, as the Blue Jays overcame frigid conditions.
“They were a quality team, and their quarterback was slinging it all over the field. In southwest Missouri, we didn’t see that,” Frazier said. “So that was a great win for us to play that style. But, physically, in the second half, we took over.”
The defensive prowess emerged again in the championship victory against Gallatin, and it was desperately needed. Gallatin had allowed only 39 points all season.
Adams rushed for 120 yards on a Show-Me Bowl record 31 carries and also recovered two fumbles. The longest run of the day by either team was nine yards.
Frazier, Adams, Jester, Chamberlin and Stinson were First Team All-State selections, while Hardie was Second Team All-State. All in all, Greenwood was a Band of Brothers.
“We were. A lot of people don’t get to experience going all the way to the big show,” Adams said. “We thought we had the talent to get there. We went about it like, ‘Think you’re the best until somebody proves you wrong.’”
Football Kickoff Luncheon presented by Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Company
When: 11 a.m. Monday, October 16
Where: University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center
Inductees: Former University of Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, Missouri State University coach Jesse Branch, Waynesville High School coach Rick Vernon as well as two state championship high school football teams – 1981 Greenwood Laboratory and 1997 Springfield Catholic.
Elite 11 honorees: Shannon Crouch (Seneca High School/Pittsburg State University), Mitch Espy (Marshfield High School/Missouri State), Mikael Cooper-Falls (Hillcrest High School/Missouri State), Jacob Hamon (Branson High School/Evangel University), Fred Harle (Raytown High School/Missouri State), Ryan Howerton (Lebanon High School/Lindenwood University/Mizzou), Shem Johnson (Parkview High School/Benedictine College/Indoor Football League), Eric Ramsey (Warsaw High School/Missouri Western University), Nick Smart (Marionville/Southwest Baptist University), Matt Wehner (Lebanon High School/Missouri Southern) and Rodney Witt (Ava High School/Missouri State).
Tickets: Sponsorship tables of eight, which include an autographed print and special recognition in the printed program, are $400. A head table ticket is $100, and an individual ticket is $40. Numerous sponsorships also are available, including congratulatory ads.
Our number: 417-889-3100