Those Were the Days My Friend

Those were the days, thinking back to the times when the in-state ACC teams could put up a fight in Football. Ed Hardin touched on some of the past directions of our local teams in Sunday’s N&R, but the thread runs a lot deeper that what Ed could lay out in the Sunday Sports.

I was talking to the former NC State lineman Steve Warren on Monday morning and we got to talking about the Pack and back when they were almost untouchable in the Lou Holtz era. Steve Warren was teammates with Chuck Amato on the Earle Edwards squads but Steve says, and I agree, that you will never see another bevy of backs that can compare to the group that State could put on the field when Lou Holtz was roaming the sidelines at Carter-Finley Stadium.

If memory serves correctly the place was just called Carter Stadium back in the early 70’s and we all know that NC State has at least 2 outstanding backs now in Toney Baker and Andre Brown but what about 4 backs of the same quality in the same backfield? This has to be greatest group of backs to play together at the same time in the same backfield in the history of the NCAA.

Sure North Carolina had Mike Voight and James “Boom Boom” Betterson and then later Sammy Johnson joined “Boom Boom”. The Heels had Curtis Johnson and Leon Johnson at the same time and Derrick Fenner, Kennard Martin, “Famous” Amos Lawrence, the Big Cat from Concord Natrone Means, Johnathan Linton and many others but nothing can compare to the quartet from Raleigh.

Virginia Tech had Cyrus Lawrence and Kenny Lewis at the same time in the same Bill Dooley backfield and Wake Forest had James McDougal and Bob Enconomackie but you can keep naming teams and conferences but none can keep up with the numbers that the Pack backs put on the board in the early 70’s.

Even try as they may the guys that many say was the best one-two punch in college football history, Eric Dickerson and Craig James(the Pony Express) of SMU can not touch Lou Holtz’ boys. Glenn Davis and Doc Walker at Army or Doak Walker or John Heisman or the bunch from Southern Cal? No Way Pal..

Who were these Wolfpack runners? They each averaged 4 yards per carry and the Pack on average was always facing 2nd and five each time they came up to the line after their first down carries. We are talking about Stan Fritts, Roland Hooks, Willie Burden, and Charley Young. Fritts had 1000 yards, Burden had 1000 yards, Hooks got his 1000 yard season and Young hit for big yards at NC State and later started for the Dallas Cowboys. Fritts was with the Bengals, Hooks may have had the best NFL totals of the four, playing 14 seasons and backing up OJ Simpson at Buffalo for much of that time period and later starting for the Bills after OJ went out West . Willie Burden broke every standing running record with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.

Nobody could stop this bunch of Wolfpack runningbacks. It’s a wonder they didn’t all hit for a 1000 yards in the same season at NC State. These guys along with Dave and Don Buckey made Lou Holtz look so good the NY Jets of the NFL came calling and Lou said,”How do you do”.

Look them up, check them out, and let me know if anybody has any arguement against these men. Stan Fritts, Roland Hooks, Willie Burden, and Charley Young, the best group of backs ever assembled at the same school at the same time in the history of NCAA College Football.