Throwback items sustain memory of four schools

By Steve Williams

South of the river, there have been a total of five Knoxville city and Knox County high schools over the years.

Young High (1913-1976), South High (1951-1976), Doyle High (1967-1991) and South-Young High (1976-1991) eventually evolved into the present-day South-Doyle High School Cherokees in the fall of 1991.

But the Yellowjackets, Rockets, Pioneers and Trojans haven’t been forgotten.

And that’s what makes the area south of the river special when it comes to high school sports. While the fans support the present, they also honor the past.

A major fundraising project for the football program, which has a “throwback theme,” was started at South-Doyle in 2019 and will continue for the third year at the school’s 2021 Homecoming game on Oct. 7 when the Cherokees host Central. It also will be a Rivalry Thursday TV game.

After selling throwback jerseys in 2019, throwback theme mini helmets of the four former “South of the River” high schools and South-Doyle High are being sold this year.

And it’s not just for the money.

“We are continually stressing our heritage at South-Doyle High School,” said Head Coach Clark Duncan last week. “It’s important to us that our kids know who set the foundation for where we are today. Schools from the past mean so much to the South Knoxville community and to our football program.”

Julie Wilkerson and her daughter Hunter, a senior cheerleader, are playing important roles in fundraising for the football program for the third straight year.

Hunter was first recommended to represent the football program in the Homecoming competition when she was a sophomore in 2019.

Julie has recently accepted the position of taking care of Marketing and Fundraising for the South-Doyle High School Touchdown Club.

“Hunter works side by side with me and helps with the social media marketing,” said Julie. “She markets to the SDHS students and I market to the parents and the community fan base.”

Hunter was crowned Homecoming Queen after raising $17,000 in 2019. Seventy percent of the net proceeds went to the football program and 30 percent to the school’s general athletics fund.

Last year the effects of COVID-19 reduced Hunter’s total to $7,500 and she was runner-up.

Despite last year’s drop off, Julie said the throwback theme is “so perfect and still going strong! The introduction of the helmets has brought back the excitement.

“I have been involved in sports since I can remember and none of those experiences come close to Friday nights here in Billy K. Nicely Stadium,” added Julie.

“We are thrilled to hear the roars of a sold-out stadium once again. Our student section, band and cheerleaders bring the hype and engage the crowd. We are forever grateful for the monetary and moral support the South Knox community has shown for all of our SDHS athletes, not just football.”

Wilkerson said the mini helmets can be customized to whatever the customer wants. Each helmet is priced at $32. Ten dollars for every helmet sold supports the football program, with the remainder going to the manufacturer for the cost of each helmet. Those who want to order by phone can contact Julie at 865-256-2840.

Customers who want to shop all available South-Doyle gear can go on the website: Https://