Remembering the Legend: Wayne Pierce

Published 12:19 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022

By C.Y. Peters

Unaka High Football

Wayne Pierce played on the first two Unaka 11-man football teams.

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Coach Lynn Goddard said he was the best tailback to ever play the game, and played behind Edd Bare who put up some great numbers for the Rangers. Although he fell five touchdowns short of Bare’s record then, Unaka didn’t even have a football field. They played their home games at Elizabethton and most of the time on Saturdays or Mondays. Pierce rushed for better than 2,000 career yards while dividing his time between quarterback, halfback and fullback.

A four-year starter and three-time All-Watauga Conference performer, he had a hand in 35 career touchdowns — scoring 23 (22 rushing, 1 receiving) and throwing for 12 more — and totaled 163 points. Ninety-two of those points came in the regular season of his junior campaign (1953), making him the league scoring champion. Pierce capped that year by rushing for a 6-yard touchdown and the point-after in Unaka’s 7-0 Rayon Bowl victory over Jonesboro. He scored a touchdown in every game the Rangers won.

Pierce was a member of three conference championships (1951-53). During his four years at the school, the Rangers posted a 30-9 record and suffered only two Watauga defeats. Unaka had four of the top ten scorers his senior season. In the mid-1950s he took up boxing.

Boxing champ Deacon Bowers said Pierce hit him harder than anyone ever did. He became the middleweight champ at Fort Jackson and was featured in Ring magazine.

He served in the United States Army and was later a member of the National Guard, served in Saudi Arabia in 1990 and Desert Storm in 1991. He attended Moores Chapel Freewill Baptist Church and served as a trustee until his passing on February 11, 2013. Wayne Pierce was married to Faye Richardson (1959) and they have four children, Chuck, Stephanie, Barbie and Ritchie.