’68 Deacons Celebrate 50th Anniversary of District VII Football Championship


The 1968 St. Paul Deacons at their 50th Reunion (photo courtesy of Ann Worley)

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In the latter half of the 1968 football season the Deacons grabbed what to many (other than the Deacons players and coaches) was an unexpected 45-20 win at perennial power Lebanon.

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Raymond Trent scores on a TD pass from Don Salyers.

Raymond Trent took the opening kickoff back 85 yards for a touchdown. Trent would score two more touchdowns in the game on passes of 11 and 42 yards from St. Paul quarterback Don Salyers. Salyers connected with his younger brother Leroy Salyers, late in the game, on a 12 yard touchdown pass.

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Steve Hamilton scores for the Deacons.

Steve Hamilton*, St. Paul’s standout running back, totaled 290 yards of offense and 3 touchdowns.

The Deacons talented defense allowed only two big plays in the game. Lebanon quarterback Capelli connected with Scales on a 60 yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. Moments later, Pioneer fullback Giles Fields raced 20 yards for another Lebanon score. Fields added a late, fourth quarter, TD for the Pioneers.

The Deacons thrashed Pocahontas 65-13 in their Homecoming game, setting the stage for the season finale a week later.

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(L to R) Assistant Coach Danny Harkleroad; Head Coach Aubrey Ward; Assistant Coach J.D. Cassell. The sign held by Aubrey Ward reads “1968 Deacons District VII Champions Won 9 Tied 1.”


The following article is from the Thursday, Nov. 14, 1968 edition of the Clinch Valley Times.  It was written by Eugene Stewart, Sr. and recounts the season’s final game against the Garden Dragons:

St. Paul Gains First District VII Crown Downing Garden 56-6

St. Paul won their first District VII Crown and Steve Hamilton broke the school scoring record Friday night as they breezed by Garden 56-6. Hamilton scored four touchdowns and three extra points to bring his point total to 130.
The previous record was set by Cecil Blevins in 1965 with 126. The Deacons also set a school record by finishing the season undefeated with a 9-0-1 record. The tie came with Norton, in the initial game.

St. Paul got off to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and went on to a 42-0 lead at halftime. Steve Hamilton scored on touchdown runs of 10, 20, and 6 yards.

Deacon Football 1969
(Pictured top left to top right) Raymond Trent, Don Tudor, Tommy Griffith, Rufus Hall, Gary Jessee, Terry Boone, Ronnie Woody, Mark Molinary, and Don Salyers.  This photo spread is from St. Paul High School’s 1969 “Estonoa” yearbook.

The feared passing of Don Salyers with Raymond Trent on the receiving end counted for three scoring plays of 30, 20, and 6 yards. Raymond Trent also returned a Garden punt 60 yards for St. Paul’s last touchdown.

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The Deacons cap off their first District VII Championship  with a touchdown.

Rusty West scored the Dragons only TD on a pass play from quarterback Ronnie Browning, in the last quarter, covering 6 yards.

1969 Deacons - Estonoa Yearbook Dedication, Aubrey Ward

St Paul was coached by Aubrey Ward and assisted by Danny Harkleroad and J.D. Cassell.

Garden- 0 0 0 6-6
St. Paul- 14 28 7 7-56

Pictured above left is the 1968 Deacon Football Team enjoying the anniversary reunion with family members. Pictured above right is Head Football Coach Aubrey Ward.  Mr. Ward was given a trophy in recognition of his many years of dedicated service to St. Paul High School and the St. Paul Deacon Football program. He also accepted a trophy on behalf of Assistant Coach J.D. Cassell, who was unable to attend the reunion.  (Photos courtesy of Ann Worley)

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Pictured above (L to R) Ronnie Woody, Ann Worley, and Raymond Trent at St. Paul’s 1968 homecoming game – where Ann was crowned Homecoming Queen.  During the anniversary reunion the trio had the opportunity to reenact their 1968 photo.

*NOTE:  Steve Hamilton was killed in Vietnam in the early months of 1971 – shortly before he was to have returned home.  We honor Steve’s memory.


















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