The theme for the 10th Annual Morristown-Hamblen High School West Trojan Hall of Fame resonated around three words Friday afternoon: love one another.
West High School seniors and alumni welcomed in four new members to the Hall of Fame at the school auditorium.
“This is a wonderful class and a wonderful representation and truly an inspiration to the students gathered here today,” said R. Michael Fishman, membership chairman of the Trojan Army, the school’s alumni association.
The new members of the Class of 2018 Hall of Fame are: Bryan Edward Burns, posthumously, Dale Chrisman, Dwayne Matthews and Warren Gooch.
Each of those inducted were honored at the school Friday in front of the high school’s senior class with portraits of them as Hall of Fame inductees. Later, they were honored during the West High School-Jefferson County football game.
Bryan Burns was honored first.
Burns attended West High School from 1978 to 1981. He earned recognition on the football field as a free safety and named the Citizen Tribune’s Player of the Year. He was also an AP First Team All-State Player of the Year.
He attended Furman College, but before graduating, he died in an auto accident just miles away from home.
His father, Bill Burns, accepted his award on his behalf.
“If he were here, he would be so elated,” Bill Burns said.
Bill Burns said his son was an athlete and a scholar, but also a sharing person who loved people. He told the seniors that Bryan would have told them to cultivate all the friendships they have.
“Make that part of your life,” Bill Burns said. “Love your friends, love your classmates.”
Coach Dale Chrisman was honored next. Chrisman played football and wrestled at Carson-Newman University. He first started coaching and teaching at Morristown High School before heading to Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga. He then coached at Cocke County High School for four years until he got a call from West High School.
He became head football coach at West High School and in his second year he took the team to the TSSAA state football playoffs for the first time in school history. He coached at West High School for 18 years.
Chrisman immediately seconded Bill Burns’ plea for love.
“If you’re going to be in the business I was in, you’ve got to love people,” he said.
Chrisman told stories about old players on his teams who let nothing stand in their way, and still succeeded. He told the seniors they “can do whatever they want to do.”
“Nobody ever idles,” he said. “You’re either going forward or going back.”
Warren Gooch was the third honored of the afternoon. Gooch a native of White Pine who graduated from West High School in 1970, lettered in three sports. He was senior class president and later graduated from the University of Tennessee and University of Tennessee Law School. In 2014, he was elected as mayor of Oak Ridge.
He said he could remember sitting in West High School 51 years ago when the school first opened.
Gooch said during that time there was a lot of hardship. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated, the Vietnam War was raging and there was a contentious election. He said fast forward to 2018 and it’s still hard with school shootings. But, he said 51 years ago Hamblen County strived for excellence by opening West High School and the school continues to strive for that excellence.
“The Trojan nation continues to dream, to strive to accomplish great things and to enhance the lives of our fellow men and women,” he said.
The final honoree of the day was Dwayne Matthews, who graduated in 1977. He lettered in football, basketball and track. He set a school record in track that lasted for years and later played football for two years at East Tennessee State University. He then transferred to Carson-Newman and played for the late coach Ken Sparks.
He has worked in the automotive industry for the last 35 years and lives in West Tennessee.
Matthew told the seniors about how there were tough times playing football, sometimes practicing two times a day in the intense August heat. But, he said it helped build character.
He said he felt like there was not anything unique about him. He just worked.
“I tried to be the best I could be, that’s all you can do,” he said.
He said he took a chance and moved away from Morristown to Detroit 35 years ago to try and follow a dream. He is now the president of a Fortune 500 company that employs more than 5,000 people.
He left one final word of advice for the senior class.
“When it comes a time you have to make a bet, bet on yourself,” he said.