Marianna High inducts 15 into first “Wall of Fame” class

Local Sports

MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) – Marianna High is honoring some of their best athletes and coaches by creating the “Wall of Fame.”

Fifteen Marianna High greats have been picked for the inaugural induction class and will get honored at a ceremony on Sept. 30.

Those being inducted in the inaugural induction are: Wiley Barnes, Lowell Centers, John Donaldson, Belva Free, Marvin Harvey, Dick Herman, Harry Howell, Mark Hutto, Vivian Koonce, Ronnie Myrick, Ty Neel, Bobby Pierce, Haywood Thomas, Sr., Cherise Wilson, and Doug Woodlief.

Wiley Barnes is a 1975 MHS graduate and excelled in football and track. He attended the University of Alabama under legendary coach Bear Bryant. He was the Captain of the Iron Bowl (Alabama versus Auburn in 1979) and boasts the record of umpteen wins and only five losses through his time at University of Alabama.

Lowell Centers was a veteran teacher, coach, principal and superintendent in Jackson County. Centers served as superintendent from 1992-1996. During his tenure of teaching, he coached basketball and track. Centers implemented the Honor Guard for parades and special events.

John Donaldson is a 1990 graduate of MHS where he was a standout on the gridiron, so much so that he caught the eyes of the FSU scout team. Donaldson has six rings, one national championship ring under legendary coach Bobby Bowden. At MHS, he also was a force in wrestling and track. Today, Donaldson remains at alma mater as head football coach and athletic director.

Belva Free was an extraordinary teacher and coach at Marianna High School and went on to the district level where she was instrumental in fighting for Title 1 and women’s equal opportunities. She guided the Lady Bulldogs to a 1977 softball state championship.

Marvin Harvey was a 1977 graduate of Marianna High School. His skills on the field sent him to Southern Miss where he was tagged as the ‘strongest kid in school history.” At MHS, he showcased his multi-task self, competing in not only football, but basketball, baseball, and track. He went on to play in the USFL and for the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL.

Dick Herman is Marianna through and through, graduated from MHS and played an integral part in the Seminoles football program from 1962-1964. He was a pivotal force with the FSU defense from the linebacker position. Herman is a member of FSU’s Hall of Fame and played for the NFL Oakland Raiders and later for the Orlando Panthers of the COFL.

Harry Howell was a teacher, coach and principal at Marianna High School. The stories told of the “Fuzz” days continue years after he, in the words of Frasier, ‘left the building.’ A short man by his own admission, Howell was 10-foot tall in the eyes of his players and later his staff as an administrator.

Mark Hutto was a 1986 graduate of MHS and was twice named All-State in football. He went on to excel at Georgia Tech where he was a member of the 1990 Georgia Tech National Championship team. While at MHS, he was also a member of the wrestling team.

Vivian Koonce was a 1945 graduate of Jackson County Training School and an exceptional basketball player. She went on to major in mathematics and instilled the love of math and the easy of learning it to every student who graced her classroom door. At 90+ years young, she is as savvy with math as she ever was.

Ronnie Myrick starred on the football field and the basketball court at MHS, graduating and moving on to Vanderbilt. Myrick was a force for Vanderbilt in the Southeast Conference in 1978 and 1979, taking the field in 11 games each season.

Ty Neal is a 1993 graduate of MHS, a state champion his junior year in wrestling, played one year of football and competed with the track team his senior year. Neal finished with 116 wins and only six losses over his four years on the MHS wrestling team.

Bobby Pierce graduated from MHS in 1977 and has done nothing short of win, win, win since he began his coaching career. He took his experience from his playing days at MHS and Chipola to the next level of becoming a coach, and a very successful one at that. After a very short retirement from Troy University, you can see Pierce back on the diamond at his hometown alma mater, Chipola College.

Hayword Thomas, Sr. is a 1957 graduate of Jackson County Training School where he dominated on the grid iron with 22 touchdowns. He was equally as impressive on the basketball court, being name All-Conference.

Cherise L. Wilson was a 1985 graduate of MHS where she excelled at everything she attempted. Volleyball, basketball, softball, and band. She holds a basketball state championship as the captain of the team, winning on two shots after the end of the game.

Doug Woodlief was an exceptional player on the gridiron, wreaking havoc as a defensive lineman on any offense he faced. He went on to play at Memphis University and professionally for the NFL Los Angeles Rams. He was a fifth-round pick by the Rams, playing from 1965-1972. He played one season for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.

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