This is the last week of the Numbers Game filled exclusively with football players.
Beginning next week with the 50s, basketball players join the fray – although our No. 77 Bill Spivey was a hoops star – and baseball, softball and soccer players will come along for the ride beginning with the 30s.
But this week, we have the 60s.
First, we need to make a correction. Our team has spent countless hours researching this project. Early on, I realized we were getting a ton of nominations from people that didn't match our visual evidence. Some people remember what numbers people wore in college, and we're using numbers from high school. Others players wore different numbers for home and away jerseys. My biggest fear during this project would be that we'd have a number wrong, and that happened this week. I received an e-mail from former Peach County lineman Dustin Chancellor stating he wore No. 69, not No. 68 where we had him. My had both a roster and photograph of Chancellor wearing No. 68, but apparently we were wrong.
So, with the correction, Central's Gerald Payton becomes the pick by default at 68, while Chancellor moves to No. 69, where he becomes an honorable mention. Terry Jolly remains our pick at 69.
As you’ll notice, we didn’t have others considered for Nos. 61 and 64. That shouldn't diminish the selection of the guys at those numbers – if we didn’t find someone worthy we would have continued to search – but it does illustrate the dearth of candidates at those numbers.
With the 60s, we have one of the biggest stars in Middle Georgia sports history – No. 62 Jim Parker – and one of the most contested numbers so far: No. 63.
It came down to Harold Hallman and Neil Callaway for No. 63. Both Macon guys. Both standouts in college – at rivals Auburn and Alabama no less. Both inducted into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. I solicit opinions each week from guys who I respect and who have been around sports in Middle Georgia long before I came here (and in most cases before I was born). Callaway was the unanimous pick, but I thought it was close. Hallman was a star in the CFL, while Callaway’s post-college success came on the sidelines as a coach. The scales tipped Callaway’s way because he was so good in high school, and he helped elevate his team into a championship contender. The 1972 team that Callaway anchored is undoubtedly one of the five best teams in Macon since integration.
We waffled back and forth over No. 68 (Gerald Payton and Dustin Chancellor). Both were key contributors on state title teams. We went with Chancellor because he was a consensus all-state guy.
The others guys considered for the 60s:
Brian Beckham, Warner Robins, football: Beckham made the AP all-state team in 1988, the third of Warner Robins’ four state championship seasons.
Harold Dart, Northside, football: Dart became Northside’s second ever all-state player when he earned the honor in 1971. Greg Williams was Northside’s first all-state player in 1969.
Martin Wilson, FPD, football: FPD’s team captain in 1982 earned all-state and all-region honors as a versatile offensive lineman and defensive tackle.
Ricky Dennis, Lanier, football/baseball: Dennis was a standout football and baseball player at Lanier in 1969 before heading to Mercer to play baseball.
Colby Nelson, Taylor County, football: Nelson is the Vikings only two time all-state player when he made back-to-back all-state teams in 2008 and 2009.
Buford Lambert, Warner Robins, football: Lambert earned honorable mention all-state honors in 1971 before heading to Alabama.
Jonathan Crenshaw, Warner Robins, football: Crenshaw was the only offensive lineman from the Demons’ 2004 championship team to earn all-state honors, which he received from the AP, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the coaches. He led the way for Alton Sanders, who rushed for 2,000 yards.