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19 June 2007
Calhoun County Sports
Hall of Fame Induction
Class of 2007

The inductions of the 2007 class of the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame will be Saturday, June 23 at the Anniston City Meeting Center at 6:30 p.m. Cost of the tickets for this event are $25 each and may be purchased from Mark Jones, Recreational Sports, Room 215, Stephenson Hall, ext. 5072 or Dr. Rodney Friery, Sociology, ext. 5655.

Each of the six inductees is listed below. Brief summaries of their careers are also cited. Four of the six inductees have JSU ties.

Gary O'Steen

O'Steen was a four-sport athlete at Anniston High School prior to his graduation in 1956, but he made his mark in football. He led Billy Bancroft's Bulldogs in scoring his final two seasons.

As a junior, O'Steen rushed for seven touchdowns, passed for four scores and caught one touchdown pass. Anniston ended the season 7-2-1.

As a senior, O'Steen rushed for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns on 120 carries. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns. On defense he had eight interceptions as the Bulldogs finished 8-1-1.

In 1955, O'Steen was one of five Alabama players selected to the All-Southern first team after having been an honorable mention in 1954. He was a first-team member of the Class AAA all-state team both years.

After lettering at the University of Alabama as a sophomore in 1957 under J.B. Whitworth, O'Steen remained at Alabama during Paul Bryant's fabled 1958 "turnaround" season. That year he returned a team-high 16 punts for 162 yards, including a 44-yard return for a touchdown in a 29-6 victory over Furman, the first of Bryant's 232 wins at Alabama. Two weeks later, O'Steen's 18-yard run set up Alabama's only touchdown in a 9-7 victory over Mississippi State.

As a senior, O'Steen moved to fullback and was the Crimson Tide's second-leading rusher. He again led in kickoff returns.

Clyde Bolton

Bolton graduated from Alexandria High School in 1954 where he lettered in football for Lou Scales. His athletic career ended after high school, but his interest in sports did not. He was a sports writer for the Anniston Star and two other newspapers before spending the final 40 years of his 46-year sports writing career with the Birmingham News, retiring in 2001. While at the News, he wrote four sports columns each week for 31 years.

Bolton was named Alabama's sports writer of the year three times—1973, 1974 and 1985. Three other years—1988, 1992 and 1999—he was chosen as the state's sports columnist of the year. Bolton received the Permatex Award in 1969, given annually for the best story in the nation of short track auto racing. He received the American Motorsports Award of Excellence in 1985 for< the nation's best story on Winston Cup racing.

In 1988 the Atlanta chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism honorary, gave Bolton its Excellence in Journalism Award for his sports commentary. He is also the recipient of the All-American Football Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Writing. Bolton was inducted into the Alabama Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2001.

Bolton began writing books, both non-fiction and fiction, in 1972. He has authored six novels and eleven non-fiction works, most of those on college football in the South and stockcar racing.

Sandy Hunter

Hunter ran track at Weaver High School for two years before graduating second in her class in 1973. At Jacksonville State, she played volleyball, basketball and tennis—then graduated with honors in 1977.

After one year as softball coach at Ohatchee, Hunter returned to Weaver where her girls' track teams were Calhoun County champions in 1981 and 1982 and AHSAA Class 3A state champions in 1981. In the 1982-83 school year, Hunter moved to the newly opened school Pleasant Valley in Jacksonville where she remained for 20 years.

In 1984 the Raiders captured the first of the five AHSAA state volleyball championships won under Hunter's tutelage. Other state volleyball titles followed in 1987, 1988, 1996 and 1997. Her 1986 softball team won the first of seven state titles in that sport. The Raiders were also state champions in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1996.

Hunter coached Pleasant Valley to 10 Calhoun County volleyball tournament championships and 10 Calhoun County softball tournament titles. She was Calhoun County Coach of the Year nine times in softball and five times in volleyball. Her Pleasant Valley teams were 798-160 overall in volleyball and 546-93 in softball.

Her 13 state championships constitute an unprecedented record of success. At the state level, teams coached by Hunter finished second six times in volleyball and once in softball. Hunter's teams finished second in Calhoun County competition seven times in volleyball, three times in softball and once in track.

Boyce Callahan

In high school Callahan starred as a running back for Saks. As a junior in 1968, he scored a then-modern era Calhoun County record 22 touchdowns as the Wildcats finished the regular season 9-0-0 and were one of four teams to advance to the Class 3A playoffs. Callahan led Saks to its first football victory over Alexandria as he rushed for 172 yards and all three Wildcat touchdowns in a 19-13 win. Against Oxford, Callahan ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-18 win that propelled Saks into the playoffs. In the semifinal game against Fairfield he carried 40 times for 177 yards and one score as the Wildcats won 31-0.

During his senior season Callahan's two touchdowns in Saks' 28-0 win over Oxford gave him 17 touchdowns and 102 points for the season, making him the first Calhoun County player to surpass the 100-point plateau twice. As a junior and a senior, he was a unanimous All-County selection.

As a freshman at Jacksonville State in 1970, Callahan rushed for 201 yards against Tennessee-Martin, 222 yards against Florida A&M and a career-best 275 yards in JSU's 55-28 homecoming win over in-state rival Florence State. Callahan ended the 1970 season with a team high 1,293 rushing yards as the Gamecocks finished 10-0-0. No other Jacksonville State player has rushed for more than 200 yards in a game more than once.

In 1971 (905 yards), 1972 (1,087 yards) and 1973 (952 yards), Callahan led the Gulf South Conference in rushing and was All-Gulf South Conference each year. As a senior, he served as one of three permanent captains. Following the 1973 season, he was a Little All-American selection.

Callahan is one of only two Gamecocks to have his uniform number (33) retired. Callahan averaged over 100 yards rushing per game for four years at Jacksonville State. When he left Jacksonville State, his 240 career points was a school record. Callahan still holds the Gamecocks' career rushing record with 4,237 yards. He also holds the Jacksonville State single game records for "yards per carry" with an average of 13.2 yards against Northeast Louisiana in 1973 and "most carries" with 39 against Livingston State in 1972.

Bill Farrell

Farrell starred at Jacksonville High School before graduating in 1943. He played football at Jacksonville State and served as captain of the then Eagle Owls football team in 1946 before graduating in the spring of 1947.

His first coaching job was at Ohatchee. The school had not played football the previous eight years, and his first team was 0-7-2. By 1951, Farrell's final Ohatchee team was 8-0-2 and Calhoun County champions.

Piedmont came calling. Farrell coached eight seasons at Piedmont from 1952 through 1959, failing to achieve a winning record only once. His Piedmont teams were 54-20-1 overall. Farrell's final two Piedmont teams were 9-1-0. The 1958 Bulldogs defeated Wellborn 26-6 in the Turkey Bowl to avenge their only regular season loss. In the 1959 Turkey Bowl, the Bulldogs again emerged as champions. Piedmont downed Alexandria 25-14 and once again avenged its only regular season defeat.

From Piedmont, Farrell spent 10 years as a principal and in other administrative capacities. He returned to coaching at Anniston in 1971. Farrell coached back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in 1973 and 1974. He left Anniston after the 1978 football season, then returned in 1986. When he retired midway through the 1987 season, his overall career record was 134-69-7.

Willie Pless

Pless played fullback on offense for Johnny Ingram at Anniston High School, but it was as a linebacker that he truly excelled. Ingram once described a Pless tackle as a train wreck. In the 1982 AHSSA North-South All-Star game, the player who had been considered too small to play at Alabama or Auburn was selected Most Valuable Player.

Despite interest closer to home, Pless remained firm in his commitment to Kansas University. At Kansas, Pless recorded 633 tackles, a school and Big Eight record. More than 20 years later, KU's second all-time mark is 403 tackles. The top three single season records all belong to Pless with 206 in 1984, 191 in 1985, and 188 in 1983. In 1984 he recorded 25 tackles in one game.

After graduating from Kansas, Pless was again considered too small—this time by the National Football League. He headed north and played 14 seasons in the Canadian Football League. When Pless retired prior to the start of the 2000 season, he had a CFL record 1,241 tackles. Five times he was named the league's outstanding defensive player.

In 1993 Pless helped the Edmonton Eskimos to their upset victory in the Grey Cup game. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005.


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