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HILLSVILLE –– Carroll County High School will induct its inaugural class into the CCHS Sports Hall of Fame during the basketball doubleheader with Salem scheduled for Jan. 31.
Eight former athletes and coaches will be inducted into the hall, which honors former Cavaliers for their accomplishments solely based on what they did while at Carroll County High School. The inaugural class includes personalties from the years 1969-1985. The new hall of fame inductees or family members will be part of a presentation between the varsity girls’ and varsity boys’ basketball games Friday.
Hall of fame inductees are (in alphabetical order):
A 1981 graduate, Dalton was one of the best all-around athletes to ever walk the halls of CCHS. Dalton was a first-team all-New River District selection as both a pitcher and a shortstop as a senior, but he made his mark mostly as a basketball player, helping lead the Cavaliers to three straight Region IV championship game appearances. A unanimous selection as the player of the year in both the New River District and Region IV as a senior, Dalton averaged 16.1 points per game and had virtually unlimited range with his pure jumpshot in the days before the 3-point line.
Dowdy is a 1980 graduate and was the first freshman to play at the varsity level at CCHS, doing so in basketball. The rivalry between old Woodlawn and Hillsville intermediate schools was so fierce in those days that a middle school athlete needed permission from his coach, his principal and the school superintendent to play for a CCHS team.
Dowdy was the quarterback on the school’s first undefeated JV football team and also played for the first CCHS basketball team to reach the Region IV tournament. As a sophomore, Dowdy started every game for the varsity football team as it matched the school’s best record with a 6-4 mark. He also was a regular starter for the basketball team, earning second-team all-district honors.
In his junior season, Dowdy was a second-team all-NRD quarterback and was the point guard on the region championship basketball team that gave CCHS its first-ever state tournament berth.
Dowdy was a first-team all-NRD and first-team all-region pick as well as an honorable mention all-Group AA selection as the Cavaliers defended their region title and advanced to the state final four for a second year in a row. At the time of his graduation, Dowdy was the school record holder in assists, games played and consecutive free throws made (29). He finished with 1,112 points before the implementation of the 3-point line. Dowdy attended Milligan College before transferring to and graduating from Clinch Valley College. His basketball number 11 was retired.
Also a 1980 graduate, Gillespie is best known for his accomplishments on the football field but was also a stellar baseball player and participated in the VHSCA East-West All-Star Game after graduation.
Gillespie was a first-team all-NRD pitcher and second-team all-district outfielder as a junior, compiling an 8-3 record with a 1.54 ERA, seven complete games and two shutouts while batting .429 on the year. Gillespie batted .397 as a senior to earn first-team all-NRD outfield honors. When he graduated, Gillespie held or shared school single-season records for triples, innings pitched, strikeouts, wins, home runs and runs scored.
Gillespie rushed for more than 1,000 yards in nine games as a sophomore on the JV team before finishing the year on the varsity. As a junior he was named the Twin County player of the week three times and was a first-team all-NRD runningback, carrying 195 times for 1,434 yards and 16 touchdowns, the fourth-highest yardage total in the state that year.
As a senior, Gillespie led the district in rushing (1,514 yards on 204 carries) and scoring (15 TDs). He set the CCHS single-game rushing record with 270 yards on 27 carries one week, then broke the mark the following week with a 272-yard, four TD effort against Staunton River. Adding his varsity totals as a sophomore, Gillespie finished hie career with more than 3,000 rushing yards, including six 200-yard games.
Gillespie played two years at Ferrum College, then a junior college, finished his collegiate career at the University of Richmond and is a member of the Twin County Sports Hall of Fame.
A 1982 graduate, Horton was the first Cavalier to participate in the VHSCA all-star game in girls’ basketball. A three-sport star, Horton was the MVP in track, a second-team all-district pick as a junior and first-team all-NRD and second-team all-region basketball player as a senior, setting what was at the time the single-game scoring record of 34 points. Horton scored nearly 500 points her freshman year at Clinch Valley College, including a school-record 44 points in one game, before losing her life in an automobile accident at age 19 while at home after her freshman year. Her CCHS jersey was retired posthumously.
A 1971 graduate and the first Cavalier quarterback at the newly-consolidated county school, Hull is also one of the best to ever play the position at CCHS and was a four-year starter at quarterback, including his freshman and sophomore seasons at Hillsville High. Thriving in the aerial attack of coach Tommy Thompson that was very advanced for the early 1970s, Hull was a two-time all-New River District quarterback and, as a senior, was the only player in the district to earn all-NRD honors on both offense and defense.
Statistics from those days are sketchy at best, nonexistent at worst, but Hull’s final game as a Cavalier was a microcosm of his career and showed his value to the early CCHS teams. In a 49-30 win over Christiansburg, Hull was 13-for-16 passing for 252 yards and four TDs, scored two rushing touchdowns, kicked five PATs and threw for a two-point conversion. He also holds the school record with an 80-yard punt and had one game his senior season in which he had three punts of 50 or more yards.
Hull played quarterback two years at Ferrum before transferring to Samford University, where he played one year as quarterback and one year as tight end. He is retired after approximately 30 years as a Virginia State Trooper.
A 1980 graduate, Sharp is another member of the run of great Cavalier basketball teams in the late 1970s-early 80s. A first-team all-Group AA and first-team all-Region performer and the player of the year at both levels, Sharp led the Cavaliers to back-to-back Region IV championships and two straight appearances in the Group AA final four.
He graduated as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,186 points and is also a member of the Twin County Sports Hall of Fame. Sharp played four years at Western Carolina University before returning to Carroll County to teach and coach at CCHS.
The last coach at old Hillsville High School, the late Tommy Thompson was also the first head football coach at shiny new Carroll County High School and had the difficult task forming one cohesive outfit out of two teams from former high schools that by all accounts were bitter, bitter rivals.
And he succeeded. Thompson fashioned his offense after the passing attack of the Johnny Unitas-led Baltimore Colts and his scheme produced 43 touchdowns in two seasons from quarterback Frank Beamer at Hillsville, then some impressive passing totals, especially for the early 1970s, at CCHS.
Though the inaugural Carroll County team started 0-3, the Cavaliers won five of their final seven to finish 5-5 and were actually quite close to winning the school’s first district championship in the sport, a title that has eluded the Cavaliers ever since. Carroll County’s final three losses that year, all of them district defeats, were by margins of six, two and two points.
On the field that now bears his name, Thompson, also a member of the Twin County Sports Hall of Fame, guided the Cavaliers through the first five years of their existence and suffered just one sub-.500 record, a 4-6 mark in 1971. Thompson began his football coaching career at Hillsville in 1956 and had just four losing seasons through his retirement from coaching after the 1973 season, during which time he coached three all-Americans – Leon Weddle, Frank Beamer and (at CCHS) Alan Turner.
CCHS’s first baseball coach, the late Bill Worrell was a Carroll County native who returned to Hillsville when the new high school opened in 1969, coaching baseball there through the 1994 season. Carroll County won 312 games, had 21 seasons of 10 or more wins and 22 winning records against just three losing seasons in his 25 years. Coaching three years each at Cumberland and J.I. Burton high schools, Worrell was the fourth-winningest active coach in the state before his retirement, with 356 total wins.
During his tenure, the Cavaliers won eight New River District season championships and seven tournament titles, and reached the Region IV tournament 14 times – including 13 of his final 16 seasons – back when just two teams in the district advanced.
Another member of the Twin County Sports Hall of Fame, Worrell guided Carroll County to three region runner-up finishes and the Cavaliers won the region championship in 1994. A 10-time district coach of the year, Worrell saw more than 40 of his players go on to play in college and had seven all-state performers, but one of the most remarkable facts about his time at CCHS is that at least 30 of his players went on to become coaches themselves.