E.A. Sports Today

County Hall enshrines class

[corner-ad id=2]Humbled Carden among 6 inductees in newest Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame class

Wayne Carden stands with his plaque recognizing his induction into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame. On the cover, inductees (from left) Howard Miller; Randy Cox, the son of Paul Cox; Carden; Henry O'Steen; Don Salls and Jerry Weems.

Wayne Carden stands with his plaque recognizing his induction into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame. On the cover, inductees (from left) Howard Miller; Randy Cox, the son of Paul Cox; Carden; Henry O’Steen; Don Salls and Jerry Weems.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – When the call first went out for nominations to the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame, Wayne Carden Jr. knew he had a sure-fire candidate for induction right across the Sunday dinner table.

As soon as he could, Carden filled out the necessary paperwork to put his father, former Wellborn athlete and longtime high school official Wayne Carden, up for consideration.

Saturday night, as part of the 11th induction class, the elder Carden got his due.

Carden was among six local luminaries inducted into the Class of 2015 at the Oxford Civic Center. He was joined by Paul Cox, Howard Miller, Henry O’Steen, Don Salls and Jerry Weems, bringing the roster of Hall of Fame members to 70.

Carden was humbled by the inclusion and appeared close to tears as he gave his acceptance speech. Among those he acknowledged in the speech were former Wellborn coaches Ed Deupree and John Adcock, both of whom preceded him into the County Hall.

“I wasn’t expecting to go in,” Carden said. “I was so shocked when they called; I didn’t know what to say. It’s the biggest honor I’ve ever received. I know everybody else who is going in; I know how they feel now.”

Carden was a star in three sports at Wellborn before graduating in 1969. In football, he was outstanding as a quarterback, receiver, defensive back and kick returner and earned all-state honors in 1968 as a senior. A guard in basketball, he was all-county as a junior and a senior. He ran dashes and relays in track and also competed in the pole vault and long jump.

He also played on the baseball team in the only year it was offered while he was at Wellborn. The team was coached by Weems, who was still a college sophomore at Jacksonville State at the time and already committed to helping coach Wellborn basketball.

“A lot of schools in the county had been without baseball for like a decade or so, so the schools got together and decided they were going to start it back,” Weems said. “Wayne played and my two brothers played. I’m kidding with him and told him that may be why he’s in this Hall of Fame, having played on that team that I coached.”

After high school, Carden was a four-year letterman in football at Jacksonville State as a defensive back and kick returner, signed by Rudy Abbott before Charley Pell was named head coach. When his playing career ended, he remained actively involved in sports as a football official for 35 years.

Carden said he remembered when his son filled out the nomination form before the inaugural class was inducted in 2005, but “it never entered my mind” after that first year. His son, however, never forgot.

“Most folks will tell you he’s the best athlete to ever come out of Wellborn,” Wayne Jr. said. “But I like to tell people everybody he’s the best man that I know also.

“With (the Hall) being new I didn’t know how long it would take for him to get in. I knew he would get in eventually. I think it’s a little overdue, in my personal opinion – he won’t tell you that – but there have been a lot of good folks who have gone in already. It’s very satisfying.”

Here are the other inductees:

PAUL COX

Cox was sports editor of the Anniston Star for 10 years, ending in 1958, during a 53-year career in newspapers. During his time in Anniston, his column, “After the Whistle”, was a must-read part of The Star on an almost daily basis and he won four state Associated Press writing awards. He was also instrumental in the creation of the annual Calhoun County basketball tournament. At Opelika in 1975, he received the Herby Kirby Memorial Award, given for the best sports story of the year. Cox died in 2012 at age 83.

HOWARD MILLER

Miller was a three-year letterman in football at Cobb Avenue before graduating as valedictorian of the Class of 1962. As a senior, he quarterbacked Cobb Avenue to an 8-1-1 record including a 26-12 win over the southern Alabama champion from Mobile in the final game of the season and was first team all-conference. He accepted a football scholarship to Tuskegee University where he was a four-year letter winner as a strong-armed quarterback and team captain. In 2007, he was inducted into the Tuskegee Athletic Hall of Fame. He now lives is Aurora, Ill.

HENRY O’STEEN

O’Steen started at end as a junior on the 1955 Anniston team that finished 8-1-1 and was selected second team all-county. As a senior, he was a unanimous choice as first team all-county at end, county lineman of the year, first team all-state at end in the large-school classification and lineman of the year, and All-Southern by the Orlando Sentinel. He was named first-team prep All-American by the Wigwam Wisemen of America and received a football scholarship from Alabama. In 1957, a knee injury prevented him from playing in Alabama’s freshmen games. In 1958, he played for the varsity in Paul Bryant’s first three games at Alabama before suffering another knee injury that ended his football career.

DON SALLS

Following graduation from high school in White Plains, N.Y., in 1937, Salls received a football scholarship to Alabama, where he lettered at fullback/linebacker for three years and started in 1941 and 1942 as a junior and a senior. After military service in World War II, he returned to Alabama and earned a masters degree in 1946. He became head football coach at Jacksonville State in 1946 and remained through the 1964 season. His second team was 9-0-0. In 18 seasons, his Gamecock teams were 95-57-11; the 95 wins remain a JSU coaching record. Salls continued to teach long after he retired from coaching. He led the development of a system of static, or isometric, exercises. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

JERRY WEEMS

Weems played multiple sports at Wellborn before graduating in 1966. In 1970, he finished at Jacksonville State then spent a year coaching junior high sports at Jacksonville. In the 1971-72 he was head basketball coach at Cleburne County, his first head varsity position. After two years at Heflin, Weems spent three years as head basketball coach at Dadeville. He moved to Clay County High School in 1976 and remained until the school closed following the 2011-12 school year. His overall basketball record was 599-452, including Class 2A state basketball championships in 1991 and 1992. He also was an assistant in football. He was defensive coordinator on each of the six Clay County state championship football teams and for the school’s four teams that put together its state record 55-game winning from 1994 through 1997.

“I’m in the AHSAA Hall of Fame, but this one means more to me because this one is from people at home where I grew up,” Weems said.

Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame inductees (from left) Jerry Weems, Henry O'Steen and Don Salls autograph programs before the start of the formal enshrinement ceremonies.

Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame inductees (from left) Jerry Weems, Henry O’Steen and Don Salls autograph programs before the start of the formal enshrinement ceremonies.



You must be logged in to post a comment Login