Class of 2016
To say Walton “Pap” Powers played in a different era is an understatement. The former Ardmore three-sport athlete excelled in basketball, football and track & field from 1959-61.
Now a Chattanooga resident, Powers will be inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame next month as part of the 2016 class.
“It’s a real honor,” said Powers about joining the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame. “I didn’t go off to play college or pro football. There are people that set so many records. I don’t know how a farm boy like me got associated with all those great athletes. It’s a real honor to be added to the Hall of Fame.”
An All-State football selection in 1961, perhaps the best thing about Powers’ athletic achievements was his ability to step on the field with no prior training and succeed.
“The first football game I ever saw, I played in,” said Powers. “I remember starting and playing in every play except one. I got the breath knocked out of me and had to sit out a play, but other than that I was in there.”
Powers was part of one of the best stretches in Ardmore High School football team’s history. From 1959-61, Powers anchored the offensive line that went 22-2-1 during that time. The 1961 in particular was outstanding, setting records for points scored in a season (452), wins (9), margin of victory (81).
“We had all been together those three years. We had everybody returning for that ‘61 season, so we knew we would be good,” said Powers. “It didn’t’ seem so easy at the time. But it was fun to be winning.”
Ardmore’s 1961 team was so dominant, the average margin of victory that season was 50-2. In nine games that season, the Tigers only allowed two touchdowns all season and had eight shutouts. Powers recalls one game that was
‘close’ at halftime, before he and the defense took over in the second half.
“I do remember the Lexington game because we were only up 7-0 at halftime,” said Powers. “They were a pretty good team. I enjoyed playing defense more. So the second half, I felt like I lived in their backfield. We played a really good defensive 2nd half against them. Got the ball back enough to score 40 points.”
Standing 6-foot, 2-inches, Powers also excelled on the basketball court as one of the taller players on the floor. Following the team’s final game of the season — an 81-0 victory over Buckhorn — Powers had short time before basketball season began.
“Ardmore was a small school back then, so all the athletes participated in a bunch of sports, so I was just going along with the group,” said Powers. “In football, we played both ways, most of the people that played football were involved in basketball and track.”
Not surprisingly, Powers was also a natural in track where he routinely won pole vault and high jump events for the Tigers.
“Track and Field was the favorite because it wasn’t as much work,” joked Powers. “Most of the time I did the ‘field’ part. If they were in dire need, I would run. Back then, what you landed on was some sawdust in the pole vault. Now they have these wonderful cushions.”
His junior year, Powers and the Ardmore track & field team qualified for the state track meet in Auburn. While he didn’t win, Powers did take home a second place ribbon, along with a few others.
“We went to Auburn for the state track meet my junior year and I got the ribbon for 2nd place in pole vault,” remembers Powers. “Of course, there was about a 12 people tied for second place, but they drew straws and I got the ribbon.”