Carl Bolton
Class of 2018

Carl Bolton

He might have played in the days before highlight films, but those who saw Carl Wayne Bolton play quarterback for Athens High School remember him as one of the best there ever was.

“He was smooth as silk,” his teammate Baxter Booth said. “Coach Ferman Elmore went on to coach at Dothan and had some great quarterbacks. One played at Georgia and another one went to Tennessee. But he said he rated Carl as the best he ever had.”

Bolton, who died in the early 1990s, will finally get rewarded for his supreme talent, as he is one of the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

“I’m sorry it took him so long to get in,” Booth said of his old teammate. “But he finally made it. He could run or pass. He could just about do it all.” Bolton started at quarterback for Athens from 1952-1954 and led the Golden Eagles to the Tennessee Valley Conference championship his senior year while earning All-State honors. He was also a standout basketball player and helped guide Athens to a fourth-place finish in the state tournament.

But Booth said the biggest accomplishment Bolton and his teammates achieved was defeating rival Decatur in 1953 and 1954, the first time the Golden Eagles had ever defeated the Red Raiders on the gridiron. “His junior year we beat Decatur 12-0 and his senior year we beat them 33-6,” Booth said. “You can’t imagine how big it was to beat Decatur. Athens was smaller and hadn’t had as much success and had never beaten Decatur until 1953. There was a big celebration uptown. You can’t imagine how happy the Athens fans were after going all those years without winning.”

Athens enjoyed great success in those year, finishing the 1953 season with an 8-1-1 record and the 1954 season with a 9-0-1 record and the TVC championship.

“We had a lot of good players and great coaching in those years,” Booth said. “But Carl was the glue that put everything together. He was just a great quarterback and a great leader.”

Bolton signed a football scholarship with Auburn University but came back home to marry his high school sweetheart. “He went down to Auburn by himself, didn’t know anybody,” Booth said. “If he’s have gone down there with somebody, I think he would have stayed. But he was in love with his girlfriend and ended up coming home and getting married.”

While he might now have enjoyed the college or pro success others from Limestone County might have had, Bolton’s legacy is still etched in the minds of those who saw him play, and he will be rewarded with a permanent spot as one of the greats in Limestone County athletic history.