Eight individuals, three of whom are being honored posthumously, are slated for induction into the Franklin County High School Athletic Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class on Friday, Oct. 19.
The class will be honored three times that day – at a 10 a.m. ceremony in the Elton Bonner Auditorium, during a 4 p.m. social in the Roy M. Law Cafeteria and at halftime of the Eagles’ Piedmont District football game that evening against George Washington-Danville.
Members are Dwaine Board, William G. (Bill) Davis, C.I. (Cy) Dillon Jr. Benny Gibson, Alvin D. Hall, Ron Hodges, Shelly Bowles Sloan and Robert E. Wray.
Davis, Dillon and Wray are deceased.
Below is a biography of each of the inductees:
Board (Class of 1975) played football, basketball and ran track for the Eagles and played college football at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Board was a fifth-round draft choice of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, but was one of the club’s last cuts and signed by the San Francisco 49ers.
Board won three Super Bowl championships as a player and one as an assistant coach.
In Super Bowl XIX, played in 1984, Board was named Defensive Player of the Game in the 49ers’ victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Board finished his playing career in 1988 with the New Orleans Saints. He has served as an assistant coach in the NFL with the 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns.
Board is a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s (MEAC) Hall of Fame.
Davis (Class of 1960) played football and ran track for the Eagles and earned All-State accolades in football. He played for Virginia Military Institute (VMI), is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame and is a former Southern Conference scoring champion.
Davis served two years in the Army, attaining the rank of Captain.
A graduate of the University of Richmond School of Law, Davis is a former Commonwealth Attorney in Franklin County and practiced law for more than 30 years. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Franklin County Bar Association.
Dillon played baseball at Rocky Mount High School and the University of Richmond and began his career in education in 1949.
In the fall of 1950, the consolidated Franklin County High School opened and Dillon served as the Eagles’ first football, basketball and baseball coach while teaching six physical education classes and holding the post of athletic director.
Dillon guided the Eagles to their first football victory in their first interscholastic game – an 18-13 triumph over Bassett. The Eagles finished their inaugural campaign in the sport with a winning record (4-3) and one player from that first squad, Bobby Cooper, later played at VMI.
Dillon served as football coach for seven years and his career record was 23-24; his best season was 1951 when the Eagles finished 6-2.
Dillon left the school system to enter private business, but returned in 1960 as principal of Rocky Mount Elementary School, a post he held until the conclusion of the 1963-64 academic year. On June 30, 1969, he was named division superintendent.
County schools were fully integrated during Dillon’s tenure as head of the school system. Also, he oversaw the development of special education and personnel management.
In June of 1983, Dillon made local headlines when he condemned the bleachers at Fred M. Brown Field for safety concerns. Citing the need for a new football stadium, he ordered those bleachers to be dismantled with the help of a chainsaw. Actually, only one of the rotten wood bleacher seats was cut.
In the fall of 1984, the Eagles moved into their new stadium, named in Dillon’s honor, and they defeated Halifax County in the first football game played there.
Today, Dillon Stadium is the home for FCHS’s football, boys and girls soccer and boys and girls lacrosse teams. Ferrum College has played football games there as has Franklin County’s sandlot football teams.
Gibson (Class of 1971) played football, basketball and ran track at Franklin County and earned all-district accolades.
He played football at East Carolina University for head coaches Sonny Randle and Pat Dye.
Gibson returned to FCHS as a teacher and head football coach (1982-1985) and later served as the school’s athletic director and principal. His career record is 14-26.
Hall (Class of 1957) earned 12 varsity letters – four each in football, basketball and baseball. Since then, he has coached Sandlot Football, Dixie Youth Baseball and Connie Mack Baseball in the county and continues to serve as an administrator with Rocky Mount Post 6’s American Legion Baseball team.
Hall’s Connie Mack team in 1982 won the state championship and advanced to the national tournament in Memphis, Tennessee.
During his career as a coach, Hall helped guide the baseball careers of five players who were drafted by major league teams: Ron Hodges, Gary Gilmore, Harold Brown (deceased), Greg Ferguson (deceased) and Bob Scarborough.
In 1997, Hall was inducted into the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hodges (Class of 1968) played football and baseball for Franklin County and played college baseball at Appalachian State University (ASU), which competed in the NAIA ranks at the time.
Hodges signed with the New York Mets, who selected him in the second round of the 1972 amateur draft. Before that, however, he was selected by Baltimore, Kansas City and Atlanta, but chose not to sign with those teams.
Hodges was a member of the Mets’ 1973 National League championship club that lost to the Oakland A’s in the World Series in seven games.
Upon his retirement in 1984, Hodges, a catcher, played in 666 games, took 1,426 at bats, belted 19 home runs, drove in 147 RBI and accumulated a batting average of .240 and an on-base percentage of .342.
Hodges returned to Franklin County and later coached each of his four sons in American Legion Baseball. During his career as manager of Rocky Mount Post 6, he guided the club to more than 100 wins.
Each of Hodges’ sons played college baseball; his youngest son, Casey, is an assistant coach at Mount Olive (North Carolina) and a former draft choice of the Atlanta Braves.
Bowles-Sloan (Class of 1991) was a freshman on Franklin County’s first softball team in 1988 and as a sophomore she helped steer the Eagles to the Group AAA Northwest Region championship and a berth in state semifinals where FCHS was defeated by Green Run, 3-0.
She is a past three-time district Player of the Year, a former All-State performer, represented the Eagles in the Virginia High School Coaches Association All-Star game, and her jersey is retired.
She struck out more than 400 batters during her career, batted .489 for her career and led the Eagles to three Roanoke Valley District titles. She played college softball at Ferrum.
Wray (Class of 1969) played football and basketball at Franklin County and college basketball at Bluefield (West Virginia) State University.
Wray competed for the Eagles’ 1968 team coached by the late Al Johnson that won the Piedmont District championship and lost to eventual Group 1B state champion Blacksburg in the regional playoffs.
After college, Wray embarked on a legendary, Hall of Fame coaching career at two high schools in West Virginia: Bramwell and Princeton.
Wray guided Class A Bramwell to the 1988 state championship one year after his club had finished as the state runner-up. His 1987 squad took an undefeated record into the title game, but was bested by Paden City, which also brought a perfect mark into the finals.
Wray’s 1987 and 1988 teams were a combined 51-3.
Bramwell, nicknamed the Millionaires, qualified for four consecutive state tournaments during Wray’s tenure as head coach.
At Class AAA Princeton, Wray steered his teams to the regional playoffs in 10 of his 16 years as head coach.
While there, Princeton’s main rival was multi-time state champion Beckley, which won seven titles during Wray’s tenure. Also Princeton ended a 13-year string of state tournament appearances by Woodrow Wilson, another hardwood rival.
Wray completed a 31-year head coaching career at the conclusion of the 2004-05 season. His career record was 468-265.
Wray was named William Fleming’s Athletic Director in July of 2006 and it was his first position in high school athletic administration. Later, Wray served as coordinator of athletics and heath and physical education for the Roanoke City School system.
Wray was instrumental in helping start an athletics Hall of Fame at the Franklin County Training School and Lee M. Waid High School.