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Assessing Throckmorton’s contributions

SoVaNow.com / July 30, 2020
After a 30-year career coaching high school varsity football, Coach Grayson Throckmorton is done.

Throckmorton announced last Friday he is retiring, effective immediately.

So, how to assess Throckmorton’s contributions?

He had a role in the two state championship Comet teams, as a player on the 1984 varsity baseball team and as an assistant under Larry Smith during varsity football’s 1991 unbeaten run.

Throckmorton also has drawn from a wealth of influences across his coaching career, including Ferrum’s legendary Hank Norton.

Throckmorton also learned from Comet coach Ron Ramsey, Nottoway’s Joe May and Smith. Throckmorton epitomized hard work, discipline and an attention to detail.

Throckmorton also took time to recognize the special contributions of longtime Comet coach Fred Palmore. Palmore served the Comet program both as a head coach and assistant, and his no-nonsense approach was recognized after his passing with induction into the Halifax County-South Boston Sports Hall of Fame.

Throckmorton was a quick study.

Throckmorton had a plan for everything. In recent seasons, he even detailed steps for the team’s conduct on the road.

Throckmorton took steps to stabilize the Comet varsity football program in his return here, finishing with a 7-4 record in his final season.

Throckmorton started his coaching career in South Boston after graduation from Ferrum. He returned as an assistant in 1990, with Smith, and had an eight-year run. From there, Throckmorton moved on to E.C. Glass in Lynchburg. He left, and moved on to Dinwiddie High School and then Nottoway.

Throckmorton spent 14 years with the Cougars before a year at Buckingham. He then came home to take over as the head of the Comet program.

While playing for Halifax, Throckmorton earned first team all-state honors as an offensive guard his senior year.

And after 30 years coaching, Throckmorton has capped his career after a three-year run directing the program.

Throckmorton will teach one more season at HCHS, becoming eligible for full retirement benefits at 54.

Throckmorton offered a bus load of memories, starting with the 1991 state Group AAA champions in football.

“That was a truly unique (blend) of young men. You don’t win a state championship unless you have some talented fellows. We were pretty well stacked throughout that whole team.

“Our linemen weren’t overly big, we were very athletic. Our skill positions were just phenomenal. We had big kids that could run and catch and make plays,” said Throckmorton.

The Comet offensive line featured performers like undersized center Daniel Ward, who played at 185 pounds. Steve Davis was a 190-pound guard, but the Comet line also featured larger athletes like Scooter Sutphin, around 245 pounds.

“Nothing overly huge, but very just athletic (players). They played tough, together,” said Throckmorton.

Everyone who is a serious devotee of football understands that it all starts with the offensive line, but that club featured explosive skill position players, including Rudy Barksdale, George Boyd, Tyrone Holt and Darrell Medley.

Aaron Brand, who has moved on to a stellar prep coaching career in North Carolina, played quarterback on that title-winning squad. Matt Wallace was a superb receiver. “Not the fastest guy, but ran great routes, but had super hands,” said Throckmorton.

The list goes on, including such stellar performers as virtually unblockable defensive end James Younger, skill position standout Terrence Jennings and many more, including standout linebacker Jamie Conner.

The 1984 Comet baseball team also performed at the highest level.

Throckmorton remembered the 1984 season as a close group of athletes with tremendous team chemistry. “We hung out together, so it was a really tight-knit group of guys that are still friends to this day, and keep in touch,” said Throckmorton.

All of the players were good friends and loved the game of baseball.

“That team, top to bottom, was talented - loaded with pitchers. That’s what it really takes.

“We kind of got momentum going. We had a couple of setbacks, here and there. But when playoff time came, that’s when we peaked,” said Throckmorton.

HCHS won its only state title with its 7-4 win over Highland Springs.

Throckmorton later played football from 1985-1989, graduating from Ferrum College in May 1990.

Norton, who has passed, had led the Ferrum program into national prominence at the Division 3 level.

Ferrum made the Final Four in the nation two seasons in a row with Throckmorton on the O-line.

“It was a great experience, being at Ferrum. It was the perfect fit for me. A lot of the guys I played football with in college also became career coaches,” said Throckmorton.





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