In the year 2007, Shorty’s Boys elected an All-Benson Field Team – that is, athletes that played on Benson Field before the games were moved to Ogle Stadium in 1948.

Ends: The ends selected were Roy Freeman, Neal Speake, and Ned Anderson. Ned Anderson was voted the best end (on both defense and offense) to ever play on Benson Field. He made All-State his Senior year. Neal Speake was the most outstanding lineman on the 1945 team: he was a demon on defense. Roy Freeman, who played 1947-1949, made All-State and All Tennessee Valley.

Ned Anderson, End 1941-43 Speake, Neal, End, 1942-45 Freeman, Roy, End 1947-49
Ned Anderson Neal Speake Roy Freeman

Tackles: Three tackles were also selected: Travis Callahan, Wes Thompson, and Harry Lauber. Harry Lauber, (“Hoss” he was named,) was a powerful lineman who was a terror to the opponents in every game and on every play. He made All-State in 1933. Travis Callahan, 1939-1940, proved to be a constant power on his side of the line – an outstanding blocker who opened many holes for those small backs to run through. Wes Thompson was selected as the best tackle to ever play on Benson Field. He lettered three years and was voted to both All-State and All-Tennessee Valley.

Callahan, Travis, Tackle 1939-40 Thompson, Wesley, Tacle, 1946-48 Lauber, Harry, 1931-33
Travis Callahan Wes Thompson Harry Lauber

Guards: Two guards were selected: Bud Lee and Don Whitmire. Many consider Don Whitmire to be the best to ever wear the Red and Black. He made All-State in 1939. As a guard, Bud Lee was not a step behind Don. He started three years, 1939-1941, on the varsity team.

Lee, Bud, Guard 1939-41 Whitmire, Don, Guard 1937-39
Bud Lee Don Whitmire

Centers: During the years, many great centers played Red Raider football. John Braswell was outstanding on both sides of the line: offense and defense. He played consistently on every play, which earned him recognition as an All-State player. The greatest center to lead the Red and Black through several undefeated seasons was Lamar Moye, who played on the great teams in the early 1930’s. He could snap and block on offense, as well as scrap and tackle on defense. However, he played before Coach Ogle became Decatur’s head football coach.

Braswell, John, Center 1945-1947 Moye,Lamar, Center 1930-32
John Braswell Lamar Moye

Backs: It was the ends, tackles, guards, and centers that made the backs look good. Remember, in those days every player had to excel on both offense and defense. Therefore, the running/passing/blocking played a vital role on defense. Decatur has always had more than its share of great running, passing, and blocking backs. We selected Bobby Golden, team of 1947, as the best offensive player. He was the first player, since Ned Anderson in 1943, to make All-State. He was the best of broken field runners, and no one man could bring him to the grass. Bobby made All-Southern in 1947. Hal Self, not because of his running and passing, but because he was a smart leader on the field, directed the team to 18 victories. The next three backs were Walter Todd, Jimmy Johns, and Bill Isbell. Walter “Sonny” Todd was a true triple threat back. He was the most accurate passer that ever threw the ball on Benson Field. Bill Isbell, a 145 pound running back, had talent rarely found in a small back. He led the 1935 team to many victories and made All-State. Jimmy Johns always gave 100% in every game. A 155 pound triple threat player with a never-say-die spirit, he played the greatest game ever played by a Red Raider on Benson Field. Decatur lost the game, but Jimmy won the hearts of all the Decatur fans. Our final selection was Clyde Smith. Clyde was an excellent blocker and runner, but he is best known for his ability to punt the football. One year in a Huntsville game, he punted for over 68 yards. His long and accurate punts won many games for Decatur.

Golden, Bobby, Back 1945-47 Isbell, Bill, Back 1933-35 Johns, Jimmy, Back 1943-45
Bobby Golden Bill Isbell Jimmy Johns
Smith, Clyde, 1939-1941 Self, Hal-Back, 1941 Todd, Walter, Back, 1939-41
Clyde Smith Hal Self Walter Todd

Managers: Three members were selected for their skill as team managers. Charlie Jones, Gil Crane, and Elmer “Hoot” Loyd always placed the team as their number one priority. They were always there to keep the team as comfortable as possible with equipment that was well maintained. The dressing room was always clean and in good order. Charlie could make the best mud kick-off tees, except when it was raining. It was his mud tees that made Joe Brewer an outstanding kick-off man.

Loyd, Elmer, Manager 1941-43 Jones, Charlie, Manager 1945-47 Crane, Gil, Manager 1941-43
Elmer “Hoot ” Loyd Charlie Jones Gil Crane

Conclusion: Much more could be written about this group of outstanding Red Raiders. There were many great football players who demonstrated their talents on Benson Field during the years of 1933 through 1947. They were joined by a large number of good, skilled players. However, most of the players during that 15-year period were just small, ordinary athletes with a strong will to win. And win they did. It was with these ordinary athletes that Coach Ogle and Coach Fuller developed extraordinary football teams that won over 100 football games.