By Steve Williams
I was looking online for more information on Huntland High School, where Johnny Majors was the state scoring leader for three straight years in earning a UT football scholarship, when I came across an interesting sports column by Charles Rogers that ran in The Moore County News in 2019.
The title of Rogers’ column was “The genesis of the MCHS-Huntland rivalry.” It was a rivalry between Moore County High in Lynchburg and Huntland that began in 1949 when Majors and Rogers were freshmen at Moore County.
Huntland hadn’t had a football team in over 20 years and hired Shirley Majors, John’s dad, in the summer of 1949 to be its coach and build the program. Shirley, who had previously coached at Moore County for three years, left his family in Lynchburg and commuted back and forth to Huntland, a 22-mile drive, during the season.
When the two teams met that year, the Huntland Hornets led by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. A desperate Moore County coach replaced his senior tailback with freshman tailback (John Majors). What happened was shocking!
Majors scored on three spectacular runs on the Raiders’ next three possessions to lift Moore County to the victory.
“It was evident a superstar was born,” wrote Rogers, who didn’t play because of a broken leg he suffered before the start of the season, but he watched the game from the sidelines.
On the other side of the field, an upset Shirley Majors was heard to say, “This will be the last time a son of mine beats me.” And he moved his entire family to Huntland the next summer.
“This upset the diehard MCHS supporters, since the Majors family had been Moore County residents for generations,” wrote Rogers in his column. “Many considered Shirley Majors a traitor to his hometown and county.”
Now a Huntland Hornet, sophomore John Majors “ran all over us” in the 1950 season, recalled Rogers, who was healthy again and played right end and defensive end for Moore County.
As time was running out in the 1951 game, Majors scored Huntland’s winning touchdown on a long run.
Rogers and the Raiders were undefeated and highly motivated going into the Huntland game in their senior season of 1952. With such a huge crowd expected for the game in Lynchburg, the decision was made to give up the home field advantage and play the game in Shelbyville.
“From memory, I believe John Majors wound up with minus 15 yards rushing,” wrote Rogers. “MCHS won the game 13-0.”
Later on, Rogers added that he played every play both on offense (tight end) and defense (right end) in the 1952 game.
“Without sounding as if I am blowing my own horn,” said Charles, “I tackled John several times for losses. He wound up with minus yardage for the game.
“Shirley Majors sought me out after the game and told me, ‘You played one heck of a game.’
“Shirley Majors and my dad (Glendon) grew up as neighbors and friends in the same Beech Hill community in Moore County.” And so did their fathers.
After the 1949 season loss to Moore County, Huntland won 70 of its next 71 games – mostly with John or one of his three brothers (Joe, Bill or Larry) leading the way (the only loss being to Moore County in 1952).
Majors and Rogers turned out to be lifelong friends, even after Majors played against Rogers his last three seasons at Huntland.
“John would come back to Lynchburg a lot during the summer,” recalled Charles.
Thanks to Rogers, I learned about that rivalry-igniting 1949 game and much more about Majors’ early years.