Public & Civic Club Talks


[Remarks presented by John E. Enslen at the Wetumpka High School Football Banquet at the Wetumpka Civic Center on December 13, 2012.]

Coach Perry is my next-door neighbor. Tonight is only the second time I’ve ever seen him when he wasn’t on the football field.

Shortly after his arrival in town, Coach Perry told me that he thought it would be a good idea to create some permanent player awards to be presented at the end of the season. I was honored to accept the challenge to help with that project.

I contacted two old Wetumpka High School quarterbacks, even older than I am, and they were also thrilled with the idea and we put our heads together.

One of those former WHS quarterbacks is Ken Blankenship. He quarterbacked an undefeated season in 1953 and has been involved in high school athletics ever since. He is the founder of the Alabama All-Star Sports Week. He served as director of the High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association for many years. He served as director of the prestigious Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Scholarship program for 13 years. He was the Athletic Director of Troy University for two years, and he was instrumental in establishing the AHSAA Hall of Fame, of which he is a member, along with other WHS players, including my coach, Coach Jack Ray, and my teammate, Coach Stokely Bazemore.

The other former quarterback on our three-man team is Edgar Welden who graduated from Wetumpka High School in 1961. Edgar is also a member of the AHSAA Hall of Fame. He presently serves as Chairman of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, which is about to induct Coach Nick Saben by the way, and has authored and published a popular WHS football-centered book titled
Wetumpka—The Golden Years.

We came up with three awards, the namesakes for those awards, and the small scholarship that will go with them. Each recipient who goes to college or trade school will receive a $150 cash scholarship for any legitimate educational purpose—such as purchasing one book. These three awards certainly do not prevent the future establishment of other permanent awards for the team. In fact, I recommend that the quarterback club consider establishing a permanent “Special Teams Award” and scholarship and perhaps name it the Brent Turner Special Teams Award, which would bring an Auburn graduate into the mix. Can I get a War Eagle from somebody on that? (The place erupts in a battle between the “War Eagles” and the “Roll Tides.”)

Now about the awards, we have named the best offensive player award after Bimbo Melton. Small but fast and super tough, Bimbo became a star running back at the University of Alabama. Due to a broken jaw suffered in the first ever televised SEC football game in 1951 between Alabama and Tennessee, Bimbo became the second football player in the history of college football to wear a face mask. He wore it just two weeks after breaking his jaw. Wearing that strange looking helmet, he played in three remaining games with a broken jaw. He gained 109 yards in the reinstituted Iron Bowl game, leading Alabama to a 25-7 victory over Auburn. Please hold the “Roll Tides” this time. Bimbo later coached at WHS, and his good character and likeable nature endeared him to all who knew him. This long-time friend of many passed away in 2002.

It is my honor to announce that the very first Bimbo Melton Best Offensive Player of the Year Award is being presented …………. (pause) by the varsity coaches in just a minute.

We have named the Best Defensive Player Award after Jamie Winborn. (Positive crowd reaction.) Many of us here have marveled at Jamie’s expert ability to laterally move his body to a point that was front and center of an opposing runner by the time the runner reached the line of scrimmage. Jamie had 137 tackles his senior year at WHS. I was not the least bit surprised when Jamie led the SEC in tackles for two separate seasons while playing at Vanderbilt. He was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft, and had an outstanding pro career with several teams. We consider Jamie to be an excellent namesake for the defensive player of the year award. We are hopeful that at some future time Jamie can be here to present this award in person.

Tonight I am pleased to announce that the inaugural Jamie Winborn Defensive Player of the Year Award is being presented …………..(pause) by the varsity coaches in just a minute.

Now I turn to the third award. Not every player can be a star, and we wanted an award to recognize a non-starting player who made a significant contribution to the team while laboring in obscurity and without fanfare or accolades. So we asked ourselves, who was definitely not a star and certainly never started that we can name this award for?

I will briefly mention why Ken and Edgar chose to name it for me. I went to Clemson University on a football scholarship—but only because there was no limit on scholarships back in 1965. In 1966, I was a sophomore member of the first team to touch Coach Frank Howard’s rock at Death Valley in Clemson. My contribution that year was as the scout team quarterback. He is the unlucky guy that gets to scrimmage against the first team defense week after week while impersonating the opposing quarterback for the next game. So you might say I played against the best defense in the ACC week after week—the same Clemson defense, and all of my playing days were Monday through Friday, never on a Saturday. Being a scout team player is a character building experience. Scout team players never get their names in the newspapers. Yet they play a vital role in preparing the first team for the upcoming game. That year our team won the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. In four of our six conference wins, we held our opponent to one touchdown or less.

Written on the plaque for the new Scout Team Award are these words: “Whate’er thou art, act well thy part.”

Tonight it is my honor to announce that the very first winner of the John E. Enslen Scout Team Award is being presented (pause) to Austin Garrett. [End of my portion of the program.]

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