Like every edition of the Numbers Game, this week’s group called for some tough choices.
For me, Nos. 42, 44 and 45 were the tough ones, but let me first talk about No. 43.
Obviously, we picked Herschel Walker, and how could we not? He is arguably one of the five greatest athletes in the history of the state. But Roger Kingdom also wore No. 43 as a high school football player at Vienna. Kingdom, of course, went on to win two Olympic gold medals in the hurdles, but he signed with Pittsburgh and played football for one year before focusing on track. Kingdom may be the second-best athlete in Middle Georgia history, and he happened to wear the same high school number of the only guy clearly ahead of him on the greatest-athletes-in-Middle-Georgia-history list.
The decision at No. 42 was an excruciating one. NFL standouts Tommy Hart and Charles Johnson both wore 42 in their high-school playing days. Johnson was a dominant high school player and a solid college player. Johnson appears to be on the upswing as a pro, turning in some of his best seasons over the past two years. Hart had a solid and long pro career, but Johnson has had the more complete career dating back to high school. We also may just be scratching the surface on what he can do as a pro.
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At No. 44, you have the two top players on two championship teams -- Steve Boswell and Alvin Toles. Boswell led Warner Robins to a state championship (and mythical national title) in 1981, while Toles was Mary Persons’ top player on the run to the 1980 title. Warner Robins had the better team, but Toles may have been more important to his team. Plus, Toles had a solid college career and became a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in the NFL Draft.
We could have easily gone with Dontarrious Thomas at No. 45 and nobody would have complained. We decided on Melvin Borum, largely because he was the top player in the early years of the Hawkinsville program. Head coach Bobby Gentry built the Red Devils into a power starting in the 1950s, and Borum was his workhorse in the early years.
Scott Taylor, Perry, football: One of the most well-rounded players in school history, Taylor played fullback, tailback, tight end and linebacker from 1980-82.
Larry Williamson, Lanier, football: Williamson earned letters at Florida State in 1965 and 1966.
Hyrum Pierce, Dodge County, football: Pierce lettered for South Carolina in 1966 and 1967.
Jack Paulk, Fitzgerald, football: Paulk was named the Class A co-back of the year in 1966 after accumulating 4,128 yards and 56 touchdowns in his prep career.
Edna Malone, Jones County, basketball: Malone holds the school scoring record after she scored 62 points in a single game.
Felix Lindsey, Bleckley County, football: Lindsey rushed for 1,601 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1992 before heading to the University of Missouri.
Al Pollard, Central, football: Pollard earned all-state honors at Central before earning a starting job in the backfield in 1976.
Kanorris Davis, Perry, football: Davis made all-state teams in 2006 and 2007 while helping the Panthers to the quarterfinals in 2007. He currently plays at Troy.
Steve Edwards, Dublin, basketball: Edwards translated a stellar prep career into a solid run at Morehouse.
Charles Harpe, Dublin, basketball: Harpe led the Irish to a runner-up finish in 1965 after averaging 18.2 points.
Mike Rich, Dublin, football: Rich made an all-state team in 1967 before earning three letters at Florida.
Brandon Perry, Hawkinsville, football: Perry, who also wore No. 70, made two all-state teams and was Class A Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 after leading the Red Devils to a second-consecutive state title.
Brian Buford, Warner Robins, football: Buford earned all-state honors in 2006 after leading a defense that carried the Demons to the state semifinals. He signed with Valdosta State
John Pagura, Warner Robins, football: Pagura was one of the Demons’ first all-state players when he made an all-state team in 1974.
Antonio Felder, Warner Robins, football: Felder helped lead Warner Robins to the 2004 state championship before playing two seasons at Kansas State, where he started nine games as a senior.
Marlin Adams, Northside, football: Adams was one of the fastest Northside players during his prep career despite playing nose guard. He earned four letters at Valdosta State and played on a national title team.
Johnny Crozier, Vienna, basketball: Crozier averaged 18.5 points per game to lead Vienna to back-to-back championships in 1956-57. He was the Class C Player of the Year in 1957.
Chris Edwards, Washington County, football: Edwards made an all-state team at Washington County before letting for four years at Georgia Tech. He started his final two seasons at Tech in 1998 and 1999.
Michael Wright, West Laurens, football: Wright became West Laurens’ first all-state player when he landed on the Class AAA all-state team in 1979.