Remembering the Legends: Bill Birchfield

Published 5:03 pm Friday, July 22, 2022

By C.Y. Peters

Bill Birchfield, Cloudland class of 1961

Birchfield was a three-time All-Watauga football player. He played under Dennis Greenwell in his four-year varsity career and rushed for a then-school record of 1,563 yards as a senior. Birchfield led the region in scoring with 126 points and was All-Watauga and honorable mention all-state.

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Cloudland went 7-2 after winning just four games over the previous three seasons. He played three seasons of varsity basketball at Cloudland under Dennis Greenwell and scored a career-high 21 points against Science Hill and Lamar as a junior. Birchfield went on to play football for Lees-McRae College.

Birchfield coached Cloudland basketball for four seasons: 1966-67 through 1968-69, and again in 1975-76. His 1967-68 team went 30-8 (win total is tied for most in school history), claiming Watauga and district tournament titles — plus the lone state tournament victory (64-55 over Memphis Frayser) in school history. The Highlanders were regional runners-up, losing by a point to Science Hill in the championship game. He coached Unaka’s football team for three years (1970-72) and also coached middle school sports. You could not attend a Highlander sporting event in the last 40-plus years without seeing Coach Birchfield.

He enjoyed farming, going to livestock markets, and following the athletic careers of his sons and grandchildren. Bill Birchfield was married to Eloise H. Birchfield, and they have two sons, Randy Birchfield and Matt Birchfield. Sadly Birchfield passed away on February 19, 2021, and will be long remembered as a true Legend.