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Sun, June 16

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Prescott High School's African-American athletic heritage dates back to the 1920s

Charley Jones

Charley Jones

PRESCOTT - As Black History Month draws to a close on Monday, it's intriguing to note the long line of African-American males who have played athletics and made other contributions while at Prescott High School dating back to at least the mid-1920s.

With the assistance of three longtime locals - Eddie Viliborghi, Larry Bender and Norb Wedepohl - who have had strong ties to PHS through the years, the Daily Courier has compiled a list of 29 former athletes who have brought cultural and ethnic diversity to the school's storied campus.

What follows is a chronological breakdown of the accomplishments that several of these student-athletes made to the Badgers' sports programs. While this may not be a complete list, it is the best available one based on information compiled from historians, such as Viliborghi, and the school's yearbook archives.

• Roy Simpson (1924-25): Believed to be the first black athlete to compete at Prescott High, Simpson led the Badgers football team in scoring as a quick pass-catching end during the 1924-25 seasons. One of the fastest boys on the squad in 1925, he received honorable mention All-State honors. He also exhibited his school spirit by playing in the band and serving as a sergeant in the Third Platoon of Military Drill.

• Bennie Bess (1927-30): Born in Beaumont, Texas, Bess was a starting down lineman for the PHS football team who also ran track. A member of the Letterman's Club, he played tuba in the PHS band and violin in the school's orchestra.

• Henry Harvey Lowe (1928-31): Another down lineman in football, Lowe also played basketball and competed in track. In 1931, he captured second place at the state meet in the pole vault. Also a Letterman's Club member, he played clarinet in the school's band and orchestra. Lowe also was a part of the PHS school newspaper's staff.

• Leonard Moore (late 1940s and early 1950s): A speedy running back known for his breakaway speed, Moore played some football but was too old to run track his senior year. As a running back, he made one of the longest runs from scrimmage in Badgers program history, an 87-yard touchdown, against state powerhouse Phoenix St. Mary's in 1949. He later played fast-pitch softball in Prescott.

• Alma Allen (1953, 1954): A 1954 graduate, Allen was a running back for two seasons and ran track as a sprinter in the spring. Wedepohl said that during the 1953 football season when the Badgers were playing in Tucson, a restaurant in the downtown area refused to serve the team because Allen was black. The squad wound up leaving the establishment and eating elsewhere.

• Charley "Choo-Choo" Jones (mid-1950s): One of four African-Americans inducted into the PHS Athletics Hall of Fame, longtime locals say Jones remains one of the top four or five best running backs in Badgers football history. Armed with thick, powerful thighs, the 5-foot-9, 210-pound bruiser was known for busting through defenders. An All-State football player, Jones also ran and hurdled for the track team. Jones still lives in Prescott.

• Kenny Jones (late 1950s): Kenny, Charley's younger brother, excelled in three sports, including football as a lineman, basketball and baseball. While he was a decent hitter in baseball, he turned into more of a basketball star. Both he and Charley, who were in the National Honor Society, lettered at Arizona State University and entered the PHS Hall of Fame in 1977 as members of its inaugural class. Kenny resides in Phoenix.

• Harold Allen (late 1950s): Short, muscular and quick, Allen ran track for three years and played football for two as a running back. During the 1956 season, he led the PHS football team in scoring with 7 touchdowns. Allen later played fast-pitch softball for several years in Prescott and became a solid catcher and hitter. He, too, is in the PHS Hall of Fame.

• Mike Barnes (late 1980s): The latest African-American to receive induction into the PHS Hall of Fame, Barnes still holds second place in the track and field program's all-time long jump record books. His leap of 22 feet, 9.5 inches in 1989 remains impressive.

Other African-American notables from PHS include:

• George Burkart (mid- to late-1940s): A graduate in the 1940s, Burkhart played football for the Badgers. His father worked for the railroad here.

• Alfonso Moore (1957 and 1958): Moore was a brute who competed in football and later coached at the now defunct St. Joseph's Academy in Prescott. Locals say he was one of the fastest to run the bases in fast-pitch softball during his day.

• Vic and Pat Young (late 1950s): These tall, thin brothers played some basketball for PHS.

• Fred Brown (mid-1960s): A strong center/forward in basketball, Brown was a stalwart defender and rebounder for the Badgers. He still lives in Prescott.

• Spencer Allen (mid-1960s): The youngest of the Allen brothers, which include Alma and Harold, Spencer ran back kicks and punts in football and later played fast-pitch softball in town.

• Willie Barnes (early 1970s): A good basketball player, the tougher-than-nails Barnes played on a bad knee but still excelled.

• Wayne Everett (1970s): The diminutive Everett ran some track as a sprinter.

• Chris Faulk (1982-83): A decent running back, Faulk also was on the track team. Viliborghi said the handsome Faulk once was in commercials for Polaroid and Budweiser.

• Skip Black (1970s): Black was a solid outfielder on the Badgers baseball team.

• Shontae Brown (1990): A tough track and field athlete, Brown still holds the PHS all-time record in the high jump with a 6-foot, 10.25-inch leap in 1990.

• David and Matt Faulk (1980s): These brothers of Chris Faulk both played basketball for the Badgers.

• Jadrian Cummings (mid-1990s): A second team All-State selection in 1996, Cummings was the star center for the Badgers team that claimed a runner-up finish at the state tournament that year.

• Erik Jolly (1996): Jolly was a teammate of Cummings' on the 1996 basketball squad.

• Mike Sanchez (2000): From Chino Valley, Sanchez played both baseball and basketball.

• Chris Flores (1990s): Flores was a guard for the Badgers basketball team.

• Chris Reed (mid-2000s): Reed was a speedy running back for the Badgers who led PHS in rushing with 1,061 yards in 2005.

• Zach Hodap (2010-11): Hodap played starting guard on this past season's Badgers basketball team.

• Terrance Wilson (2010-11): Wilson was a substitute center/forward on this past campaign's basketball squad.

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