Granville Taylor, Coach Hunter headed to Hall
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

A star athlete and his coach in three sports are about to become the newest members of the Russellville Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. Granville Taylor, who graduated in 1955, and his football, baseball and basketball coach, Harold Hunter, will be inducted between games with visiting Logan County on Friday, Jan. 4.

 Granville Taylor was not only a first-team all-state football player in 1954, but he was the only Russellville Panther named first-team All-Western Kentucky Conference despite Coach Harold Hunter’s team going 8-1-2 and being ranked 20th in the state overall. Since there were no classifications, only 11 people were named all-state in those days, and Taylor was one of them.

 Highlights included his 20 tackles in the team’s only loss, 19-7 to conference champion Mayfield. He blocked four consecutive punts (a WKC record) in a 34-0 win over Trigg County. At approximately 153 pounds, he was the lightest player on the All-WKC team.

He was the All-WKC center, but averaged 14 tackles per game. News-Democrat editor Beasley Thompson wrote, “Taylor made all decisions as captain while he was in the game. He has not been charged with a bad snap (at center) all season. He knows the assignment of every player on every play, is an excellent blocker and is a sure tackler.”.

In basketball he helped new coach B.H. Weaver’s Panthers beat Auburn 59-53 for the championship of the county tournament. In that game, he had 13 points, second only to center Jimmy Riley’s 22. James ‘Dump’ Scott was the Auburn star. He went on to become the namesake of the Scotty’s paving empire.

 In baseball, he was the starting first baseman as a sophomore on Russellville’s first team in 1953 and started for three years. In the 1955 district finals, he drove in five runs and had five hits, including a triple, in a  25-6 win over Auburn. He batted .558 as a senior.

After high school, Granville Taylor went to Louisiana State University where he earned a degree in architecture. He has spent his adult life working in that profession in the Memphis area where he and his wife Teresa live. He is a principal in one of the area’s leading architectural firms and has won a number of professional awards, including his plans for the remodeling of Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion, He has also been on the board and served as either president or chairman of a number of professional, civic and charitable organizations.

His brother, Howard ‘Tank’ Taylor, was a four-year starter for the Panthers in football, several of them playing for Hunter. His sister Fredia and her husband, Buddy Meade, have headed a respected family in Russellville for over half a century.

Harold Hunter coached the Russellville Panthers in nine of their first 24 seasons. His first two teams in 1946 and 1947 had a combined record of 17-2-1. The ’47 team shut out five opponents, all at Rhea Stadium, and gave up only 27 points in 10 games. They took the longest road trip in RHS history, playing in a bowl game in Pensacola, Fla. His first two teams outscored opponents 506 to 190.

After taking a break to go to graduate school, Hunter returned to coach seven more seasons from 1952-58. Six of his teams had winning records, including 8-1-2 in 1954 and 7-4 in ’57. His 54 wins were the most in school history until his record was broken by Coach Ken Barrett over three decades later. He delayed becoming RHS principal for three years in the mid-50’s to continue coaching the team.

He not only coached the Panthers during integration, but he became the first football coach in the Western Kentucky Conference to start an African American when Charles Lewis took the field in 1956.

He also coached RHS basketball, winning the district championship in his first two seasons. His 1947 team was Russellville’s first ever to reach the regional basketball finals. His last basketball team in 1954 was both county and district runner-up.  Harold Hunter also coached the first RHS baseball team in 1953 and is credited with securing a separate baseball district for Logan County/Russellville teams.

Hunter started ”midget football” as the forerunner of junior pro that fall and youth league baseball in Russellville. He headed the Youth Activities program that had almost everyone in the school involved in sports activities. The former Western Kentucky University football player coached American Legion baseball in Russellville.

In 1959 he gave up coaching to become the RHS principal, a position he held until going into business in the 1960s with his friend Joe Hicks at Smith-Douglas Fertilizer. His daughter, Pam Hunter Holdcraft, and his granddaughter, Christy Carter Marksberry, are currently teachers at RHS. Another of Harold and Laureen Hunters’ daughters, Hattie Jean Carter, lives in Auburn. His great-granddaughter, Laura Grace Marksberry, plays softball for the Lady Panthers. A great-grandson, Carter-Alan Marksberry, plays little league baseball.

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