Bare remembers well his time on the football field
Published 10:11 pm Friday, June 12, 2015
As you listen to the detailed and passionate stories trickle off the tongue of former Unaka football standout Ed Bare, it’s hard to believe they happened almost 65 years ago.
But, as he mentions, oftentimes he recalls what happened when he was “between the lines” in Stoney Creek better than he remembers what happened just a few days ago.
“My memory is kind of bad, my short term, but I can remember the old days,” Bare said with a smile.
A moment the 81-year old probably won’t be able to forget will come when he is inducted into the Carter County Sports Hall of Fame with the class of 2015.
The Ranger basketball, baseball and football standout from 1950-1953 saw the football program at Unaka start as a 6-man team, and evolve into an 11-man championship-caliber program. He is one of only three Unaka players to rush for at least 3,000 career yards and he totaled close to 5,000 all-purpose yards during his time on the football field.
He recalls scoring 59 touchdowns in his three seasons on the 11-man Unaka football team, with 24 of those coming during his senior season, in just seven games. He led the Rangers in scoring and touchdowns during all three of his seasons and made the All-Watauga team during each of his year.
Bare manned the tailback position for the single wing offense of legendary Unaka coach Lynn Goddard. He found himself at Unaka, after spending most of his freshman season at Elizabethton High School, forced to move to Stoney Creek after his father lost his job at a plant in Elizabethton.
But he arrived just in time to play in one game for the six-man Ranger squad, and be part of a win against Cloudland, which happened to be their first win in program history.
But that was the first of many wins for the Rangers as they tied Happy Valley for the Watauga Conference title during their first season of 11-man football. During the 1952 and 1953 seasons, they claimed the outright championship with an overall record of 8-1 and 7-0 in conference during each season. Each of those losses came at the hands of a much larger Elizabethton High School.
Besides being the tailback, Bare also played left linebacker, returned punts and kickoffs, kicked kickoffs, and played snapper during punting downs.
“Coach Goddard told me that he needed me to have a big role in the team,” Bare said. “But I didn’t know how big until he told me all the positions he needed me to play.”
But Goddard also knew when to call Bare off. That is exactly what he did during one of the Rangers’ games against Cloudland. Bare recalls scoring four touchdowns with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter; he then watched the rest of the game from the bench.
While Bare was able to finish out his football and basketball career at Unaka during his senior season, he wasn’t able to finish off his baseball career due to being drafted by the Air Force during the Korean War.
During his time at Robins Air Force Base, he was able to play football games with other serviceman and even turned some of his biggest critics into his biggest supporters.
“I weighed 180 pounds in the military, after eating three squares everyday and the coach told me, ‘You’re really too small,’” Bare recalls. “But then he put me at defensive cornerback and I intercepted the ball to take it back 40 yards, or something like that.”
That forced the coach to quell his criticism quickly, Bare says.
“He said, ‘I don’t believe you are too small for this. The big guys aren’t able to hit you.”
He was just happy to play a game that he loved and connected with.
“Football was what I enjoyed more I guess,” Bare said. “I loved everything about it, the contact, just everything.”
But he isn’t sure that his teams could match up with the kids who roam the gridiron these days.
“It’s just like automobile, I guess,” Bare said. “They are getting better all the time. The kids are just bigger, faster and stronger than we were back then.”
Bare got out of the Air Force in 1957 and settled in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he currently resides. He will return to Carter County, with his son Danny, for the first time in three years in order to accept his enshrinement into the hall of fame.
“It’s will be a gracious day,” Bare said.