Homecoming made Friday night even more important

Published 2:57 pm Monday, October 17, 2022

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Homecoming games are so important to a school and football team.  Having played and coached in many myself, it is always a motivating factor to be chosen by another school to be their homecoming game opponent that season.  Good teams play hard and bad teams play harder because you always want to win the opponents homecoming game.

The school and team have already done things each day that week to motivate their players.  Monday, hat day, Tuesday, pajama day, up to the parade that Friday afternoon.  Friday is always pep rally day in the gym and players are introduced by position as the fight song is played over and over again and the competition between the senior class and other classes are exciting to a point that you cannot hear.

In 1967, Washington High School did not lose their homecoming football game.  The seniors on the football team selected the homecoming court.  The young ladies rode in the parade down Main Street.  The Pam Pack marching band under Mr. Jimmy Larkin was the featured band as was the opposing school’s band but the Pam Pack marching band was always the main attraction along with the pretty young ladies.  Kinston High School was the opponent that year led by Leo Hart, later a Duke and NFL star.  Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to play against Kinston High due to knee surgery.

 The Homecoming Court was escorted pre-game onto the field by a senior player.  Coach Wagner would not let there be a single player missing at half time being afraid they would miss half time adjustments.  He was also afraid the bands would play too long and the Pam Pack would get a penalty for delay of game, this game was too big to his team and student body.

The Queen my senior year was Terry Gerringer and she was escorted by Terry Smithwick, a tight end on the football team who would go on to play for East Carolina until injury sidelined him. Others ladies that night were Brenda Dixon, Pam Alligood, Chris Hodges, Jane Bagwell, Patty Williams and Diane Shaw, all escorted by senior players.

After the game and a victory, there was the biggest dance that the Parrish House had all year.  A live band from Greenville played and we danced until our feet could go no more or until Mr. and Mrs. Mann said it was time for us to go home.

So, you can see why Homecoming night was a huge night for any school or college and I have coached in 46 of those games.  We won some and we lost some but they were always big nights in the eyes of a young person! Some teams could get motivated to win and others were intimated by that special night, usually the opponent!

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.! The Original Washington!

Harold Jr.