Every Inducted Member

Cedric Jones – 2019

Cedric Jones
Inducted 2019

High school football in Waycross dates back to 1910. The forward pass has been in and out of vogue between 1910 and 2019. But suffice it to say there have been some accomplished pass catchers to come out of Waycross-Ware. And they all made catches of varying degrees of difficulty.

Cedric Jones, though, stands out from the others. As good as their catches might have been, he has a name.

The signature reception that he is remembered by is known in Memorial Stadium history as “THE CATCH.”

It came as Jones and the Ware County Gators played Baldwin in the 2004 playoff s … and the chips were on the line that night for Dan Ragle’s Gators. Without THE CATCH Jones made in the end zone Ware might still have beaten the Baldwin Braves (it was a 31-13 game in Round 2). But Jones recalls it being a critical TD at the time.

It was into the southeastern end zone in Memorial Stadium that Victor Daniels threw it … wide and long, or so everyone, including Jones, thought. But Jones decided to make an all-out try, racing and then extending his full length four feet off the ground…and he caught it! Somehow! Cradling the ball in his fingertips, he controlled it as he crashed to the ground.

Two weeks later in the semifinals, Ware’s playoff runs ended in the Georgia Dome with a 40-0 loss to eventual champion Warner Robins. Cedric Jones did not play in that game as he had a severe high ankle sprain.

But whether or not “THE CATCH” he made on that November night in 2004 was the best in his life, Jones certainly made some great receptions in high school, college ball… even in the Arena League.

He was honorable mention All-State at wide receiver his 11th-grade year and he made first-team All-State as a senior but at cornerback. Jones also was an accomplished athlete playing basketball, soccer, and track at Ware.

He made All-Gulf South Conference for four years with the Valdosta State Blazers. He was Division II All-American and one of the key pieces in their national championship season his sophomore year. He set many Valdosta State receiving records. He was the Freshman of Year in the Gulf South on an 8-3 team that missed the playoff s. The following season, however, the Blazers won it all … Division II champs.

In all, he had 282 receptions for 3,177 yards and 21 TDs in college.

Jones pursued an NFL career, but a herniated disc in his neck scuttled his plans before the combine. He then turned to the Arena League with an aim to build a resume and make it yet to the NFL. But, again, he injured his neck and was advised to play no more football.

Today, 33-year-old Cedric Jones works in sales at Mays-Munroe in Tallahassee, Fla., where he has lived for the last five years.

McKinley Williams – 2019

McKinley Williams
Inducted 2019

When you play for a 0-10 football program, you get very little respect. Such was the plight of McKinley Williams, one of the best high school football players in Georgia in the late 1960s.

As a ninth-grader at Ware County High in 1966, he played on the freshman team before joining the varsity for its final three games. Though he did not contribute significantly to the 3-5-2 record, he claims it … because it would be the best record the Gators would log during his tenure.

McKinley’s teams at Ware went 7-31-2. His first full varsity season in 1967, the sophomore showed flashes of greatness. But the Gators finished 0-10!

In spite of the team record, McKinley was rated in the top eight of Georgia’s high school running backs in 1969. Williams, the starting Gator tailback for three years, also played defense and special teams, leading each unit.

He was one of the top tacklers at Ware and an excellent pass defender. But it was when he touched the leather that he was dangerous. He ran the ball, caught passes, returned punts and kickoffs. He was the Gators’ all-purpose yards leader and leading rusher every year from his sophomore through his senior seasons.

In the spring, he was a versatile track team man and quite a standout. He ran the sprint races — the 100, 220, 440 and the 440 and mile relays — and he won several of the events at the region meet each spring. He qualified for the state meet in a variety of running events.

By the time he entered Ware County High, he was a ready-made football player. Which makes it remarkable that he had never played sports up until then! Most of his teammates started in Recreation ball (as Pee Wees, Midgets or Juniors). Once he did get a start, he made up for lost time.

He was also a pioneer in the respect that his entry into high school coincided with public school integration, and McKinley, Joseph Howard and Roger (Glover) Jackson were the first African Americans to play Ware High football. While integration brought dissension and trouble in other communities and schools in Georgia, the transition was far less problematic at Ware High. McKinley takes a measure of pride in his role in the process and that Ware High had such a relatively smooth experience.

After high school, McKinley played one year of college ball at Savannah State before finding himself on another team — Uncle Sam’s Army. A paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne during the final years of the Vietnam War, he spent his three-year enlistment at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Katherine Meeks Love – 2019

Katherine Meeks Love
Inducted 2019

When Kathy Meeks was a junior at Waycross High, she and her basketball teammates lost in the 1977 state finals by a heartbreaking two points to Cherokee County. A year later, though, they kicked down the door to win the first state basketball championship in the school’s history.

A tall power player, Meeks could score from anywhere on the court and was a leading points producer and rebounder.

With her induction tonight, Kathy Meeks Love joins her 1978 teammate Barbara Stanley Lively and head coach, Coach E.B. Price, as members of the Waycross-Ware County Sports Hall of Fame. (Lively entered the hall in 2015 and Price was inducted with the 2001 class.)

For Waycross High, it was an encore that school year in the state throne room as the football Bulldogs had also won the biggest of trophies — the 1977 Class AA championship — just a few months earlier.

Before graduation, Meeks was selected for the honor of playing in the Coaches North-South All-Star Game, then it was off to college to further hone her athletic skills.

She was briefly aligned with the University of Georgia Lady Bulldogs, but when the head coach changed in Athens, she sought a transfer to Georgia Southern College. In Statesboro, Meeks played basketball … but only briefly. It was on the college softball diamond where she found stardom.

Walking on to the softball team, she soon received a scholarship and gave up basketball. As a first baseman, she was All-State her sophomore, junior and senior years, as well as helping the team to win the Georgia State Championship all three years. She won the Female Senior Athlete award for softball as GSC finished in the top 10 three years running.

She graduated in 1982 with a degree in physical education/health.

Growing up in Waycross, Meeks’ interest in basketball and athletics came naturally. At age 12 the Waycross All-Stars won the Georgia Midget State Championship in Warner Robins and Meeks was voted MVP.

Living in retirement in the Hershey, Pennsylvania area with her husband, Robert Love, she has coached young girls instructional league basketball for 4th and 5th graders.

Kelly Durham Brown – 2019

Kelly Durham Brown
Inducted 2019

Kelly Durham Brown, a four-year starter and leader in two varsity sports at Ware County High School in the 1980s, went onto play college basketball and win accolades at two different schools.

A high-scoring point guard, she sparked the Lady Gators to the program’s first big successes in the fi ve-on-fi ve era of girls basketball. She also keyed the Ware softball team to high recognition as a third baseman who was a tough out at the plate.

Brown, a natural scorer on the basketball court, helped Ware win a subregion title as a sophomore. A year later, her junior season, the Lady Gators took it a step further, winning the Region 1-AAA Championship and qualifying for the state tournament.

She had honed her skills by her senior season to the point that she averaged 20.6 points and better than 8 rebounds a game as she and her teammates repeated as region champions. Another state playoff appearance was included in the spoils. Brown also led her team in assists, steals, and blocked shots during her senior campaign (1989-90). She shot 56 percent from the field, and for much of the season averaged 75 percent in a “new” category of field goal … the three-point goal.

She made all the consensus all-star teams, including the Journal-Herald Big 15 All-Okefenokee Area team (all classifications) and was the All-Area Player of the Year. When the dust had settled on Brown’s high school basketball career, the Lady Gators’ record stood at 71-18.

Her ability to make the varsity at a young age was a natural progression for her. After all, as just a 6th grader entering junior high, she was the starting point guard on the 8th-grade team, which had back-to-back unbeaten seasons when she was in 7th and 8th grades.

As third-sacker in softball, Brown won her team’s Most Valuable Player and Coaches awards. The team went deep in the playoffs in her junior year.

She also played tennis doubles as a high school senior.

After high school, Brown attended Georgia Southwestern College on a full basketball scholarship. As a freshman, she was the leading scorer and MVP, earning All-Conference and the GIAC All-Freshman Team. In fact, she was the GIAC’s Freshman of the Year Transferring to Brewton-Parker College for her final two years of college ball, Brown led the team in scoring and made the All-tournament team both years at B-PC.

On a side note, while in high school she was honored by the Waycross-Ware County Sports Hall of Fame as a Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Nowadays, she teaches current day young student-athletes as a health teacher and coach at Pierce Middle School.

Kennsel Bennett – 2019

Kennon Taylor
Inducted 2019

Kennsel Bennett — a 6-foot-8 basketball center — was made for the low post. In high school and in college he was a scoring and rebounding machine. A true power player, he crashed the boards with abandon and was hard to stop as a scoring threat inside.

But his fadeaway jump shot from 12 to 15 feet was extremely lethal and perhaps his best offensive weapon.

His low post defense was, also, arguably the best part of his game.

He was one of Ware County High School’s best big men in school history, playing for the Gators in the early 1980s. He parlayed his high school success to an outstanding college career, starring first at Anderson College in South Carolina, then at Kennesaw State University.

He had to adapt to different high school coaches every single year at Ware. In Grade 9, Joey Goble was his freshman team coach. In 10th grade, Bill Thombs was his coach. As a junior, the Gators hired Don Clatterbuck to coach the varsity. By his senior season, the Gators were headed for normalcy and stability under the leadership of Jim Dowling. “We were co-region champs that year and went to the state playoffs,” Bennett recalls.

“We went to the third round of state — pretty good — then we played Randolph-Clay and should have beat them. They won by a close score. I fouled out of that game.”

It closed the books on Ware’s successful 1983 season. College recruiters took notice of Kennsel when he was entering the 11th grade. Anderson College started recruiting him at a Five Star camp in Milledgeville the summer between his sophomore and junior years of school, and Bennett came to like the junior college.

At Anderson, Bennett was All-Conference twice and All-Region as he helped his team to a No. 3 national JUCO ranking and a run that ended in the national quarterfinals. Anderson won the conference twice while he was there.

“We were run and gun,” he said. “It was an enjoyable time.”

With strengths that were hard for opposing players to neutralize, Bennett re-wrote portions of the record books at both colleges. With the Kennesaw State Owls, he was a dominant inside force for a middle-of-the-pack team, racking up the points and the rebounds and shooting 60 percent from the field. He was All-Region both years there.

He graduated in 1988 and played on a pro-am team in Atlanta that summer. He enjoyed it so much he stayed in amateur basketball competing for 15 years in two different leagues.

Returning to Waycross in adulthood, Kennsel was an effective community basketball coach at Ware High under coaches E.B. Price and Ed Dowling.

Kennon Taylor – 2018

Kennon Taylor
Inducted 2018
Early during the decade of the 1970s, quarterback Kennon Taylor rewrote the passing records at Waycross High… and he did it again at Marion Military Institute… and then did the same at Arkansas State University.

Before graduating in 1975, Kennon led the Bulldogs of Waycross High to a 23-4 record while at the controls of Dale Williams’ offense. As of the third game in his sophomore season, he was the starting quarterback and the Dogs finished 9-1 with a subregion championship. Kennon returned for an 8-2 junior campaign and Waycross spoiled Valdosta’s homecoming with a Bulldog upset. His 12th grade season in 1974, Waycross went 9-1. His career totals included 115 completions in 230 attempts for 1,754 yards and 22 touchdowns.

A third baseman and pitcher on Coach Melton Callahan’s Bulldog nine, Kennon helped his ballclub win the in- augural Phillips 66 Tournament sponsored by Dan Stipe. He was the tourney’s Most Valuable Player.

Moving on for two years to Marion Military Institute in Marion, Ala., Kennon was signed to a baseball and football scholarship. But it was during football season that he dominated. He still holds six MMI records: season passing yards 1,597, career passing yards 2,645, completions for a season 102, completions for a career 178, TDs for a season 18 and TDs in a career 27. As a freshman he was a JUCO All-American and he made first team All-Alabama Small College. It was MMI’s best season since World War II. The following year, Kennon and his MMI mates finished 8-2 and No. 9 in the nation among junior colleges. He ranked second nationally in total offense and third in passing yards, numbers that got the attention of Playboy magazine, which tagged him for their top newcomers list in 1977 as he entered Arkansas State.

Kennon quarterbacked the Red Wolves of Jonesboro, Arkansas to back-to-back 7-4 records in 1977 and 78, but he left the school as its career passing yardage leader despite having played for just two years. He also was ranked No. 4 in career total offensive yards. Kennon’s two-year totals were 170-for-372 passing for 2,491 yards and nine TDs while rushing for 392 yards and 10 scores.

Kennon has been married to his high school sweetheart (and majorette) Kathyrn for 40 years. Daughter Nikki (Dr. Kristina Johnson) and husband Ryan have one child. Son Adam Taylor and wife Amanda have two children. Adam, a Waycross police officer, is a combat veteran with three combat tours under his belt.

Edie “Peanut” Spence Palmer – 2018

Edie “Peanut” Spence Palmer
Inducted 2018
Rarely in southeast Georgia has there been a long range sharp-shooting basket- ball legend the caliber of Peanut Spence, one of the stars of the 1964 Ware County High state champion Gatorettes. As a high school freshman in 1963-64, she joined three teammates on the All-State team.

Today Edie “Peanut” Spence Palmer lives in Jacksonville, FL with husband Roger. Peanut, the daughter of the late John and Josephine Spence of Waresboro, came from a family of athletes.

At Ware County High School, had there been a three-point line in the 1960s, she would have put the record book in a deeper orbit. Standing well beyond the top of the foul circle, she would cradle the ball as she took dead-eye aim. Then came her two-handed set shot followed usually by a “SWISH” of the net.

On the night of January 7, 1966 in Blackshear, the 11th-grader could hardly miss. Peanut scored 47 as Ware claimed a 86-59 win over the Blackshear Tigerettes. Thirteen months later and now a senior, Peanut led WCHS to a 56-43 tournament win over Waycross. She matched the Waycross team’s point total of 43 by herself. In the brand new Waycross High Central Avenue gym, Peanut was 17 of 19 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free throw stripe.

She furthered her education at Andrew Junior College, Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. She has been a mission- ary, a teacher, a mentor and an advocate for children and adults alike. Living in Spain for six years, she taught English as a second language. She has taught students with learning disabilities in Yulee, FL and served as a tutor in intercity after-school programs in Jacksonville. She volunteers weekly at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville.

Roger and Edie Palmer worship at First Presbyterian Church while daughter Alicia lives in Vermont with her family and daughter. Carmen’s family resides in Atlanta. Says the honoree: “I have five ‘perfect’ grandchildren, who call me Peanut!”

James Edward “Bull” Mitchell – 2018

James Edward “Bull” Mitchell
Inducted 2018
Earning the respect of his coaches, teammates and opponents at every level of the game – high school, college and pro – James Edward Mitchell was a force on the football field.

Playing for Coach Dale Williams at Way- cross High in the late 1980s, the linebacker/defensive lineman was a head hunter with a far flung reputation. Often during practice sessions after school, his coaches had to remove him from the scrimmage for fear of him injuring his teammates. On two occasions Edward “Bull” Mitchell delivered hits that broke the iron bars of helmet face masks.

Edward was an All-Region star for two seasons at Waycross and achieved All-State honors as a senior (the 1990 sea- son). He was the Bulldog team MVP his final high school season and he was selected to compete in the Georgia High School Coaches All-Star North-South game.
He averaged 130 tackles a season during his high school career.

Coached by Leroy Herring on the Waycross High track team, Edward made All-Region in the 11th grade. He competed in many events: the 100 meters, 200 meters, mile relay, 440 relay, shot put, long jump and triple jump.

At the next level in football, his coaches at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi moved him to running back. As a freshman there he was his school’s Most Valuable Offensive Back. Back on defense as a linebacker the following season he earned All-Mississippi JUCO honors.
Moving on to Valdosta State University, Edward led the Blazers in tackles for two seasons and made the Gulf South All-Conference team during his senior campaign.

One of a handful of men from his home Waycross-Ware community to play professional football, Edward was a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League.

Mike Cuneo – 2018

Mike Cuneo
Inducted 2018
Mike Cuneo, one of the elite tennis stars produced by Waycross -Ware County, was a well-rounded athlete at Waycross High School in the late 1970s. After a sensational high school career, he earned All-American status at two different colleges.

The student of Coach Ken Tate on the Waycross High tennis team, Mike earned All-Region honors all four years during high school. He was All- State as a junior and senior. In high school singles competition, he lost only two matches — in the state semifinals during his 11th grade season and in the state championship final round as a senior. Mike also went to state in doubles while playing for Tate’s Bulldogs.

At Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, a two-year school, Mike was All-American as a freshman. Moving on to Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State), he was the team’s ace there as well and was All-American his senior year.

Mike was also an accomplished high school quarterback in football (1980 Jour- nal-Herald All-Okefenokee Area team) and a journeyman basketball point guard for the late Coach John Pike.

He led Coach Dale Williams’ Bulldogs to victories on the gridiron until a shoul- der injury sidelined him during a road game at Americus in 1980. The senior gave way to another talented quarterback, Todd Williams, the son of the head coach. Late in the game, Todd Williams kicked a long field goal to pull out the victory over the Americus squad. Mike Cuneo, despite his hurt shoulder, was the holder. After missing much of the season, the senior returned to provide an effective quarterback tandem with Williams, who was a junior. The silver-lined irony behind Mike’s injury: Williams earned much valuable experience and the following year quarter- backed Waycross to the 1981 state championship.

Both Williamses, Dale (1989) and Todd (1998), are already enshrined in the hall as is John Pike (2003). Mike is part of another hall of fame legacy, one that is even closer to his heart. His father, the late Andy Cuneo, was inducted into the Waycross-Ware County Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
Mike and Robyn Cuneo, who worship at First Baptist Church in Blackshear, have three grown children, Andrew, Ansley and Abby.

Marian Fesperman Block – 2018

Marian Fesperman Block
Inducted 2018
When Marian Fesperman entered high school at Southwood School in 1979, the Lady Warriors varsity basketball program got the upgrade of its history. The multi-
talented athlete and her teammates joined the state GISA championship conversation … and had an annual say in the Final Four until she graduated.
As a freshman for Coach Ed Dowling, she helped lead her team to the state semifinal round. In the 10th grade, averaging 18.4 points a game, Marian and Southwood won the state crown beating Trinity Christian 45-36. Beefing up her points per game average to 26.7 as a junior, Marian and the Lady Warriors fell in the state championship
final to Twiggs Academy 26-23 (in three overtimes) as she fouled out. It was back to the throne room in Marian’s 12th grade season (1982-1983) as she capped her career with well over 1,200 points and a career 25.5 points a game average.

She was All-Region three years and All-State as a junior and senior. In three state championship games, she bucketed 94 points. Along the way, Marian eclipsed single game school scoring records held by Lucy Pittman and Kelly Scott as well as Holli Huggins’ career mark (875 points).

During the summer after her senior season, Marian was invited to play in the Georgia-South Carolina All Star Game (also known as the NORTH-SOUTH All Star game). The teams were chosen from all classes — Single A to Quint A — and the Georgia team (South team) won 96-89 as she scored 32 points.

After graduating from the University of Georgia, Marian was an American Airlines flight attendant for 12 years.

Marian has been married to Joe Block for 24 years. Residents of Athens for the past 15 years, they have three daughters. Caroline, 22, is a senior at Ole Miss, Larsen, 20, is an Ole Miss sophomore and Anna Marian is a senior at Athens Academy. She will be a scholarship freshman in the fall at UGA running track and field and cross country for the Dogs.

When her daughters were young, Marian was a stay-at-home mom. But she would resume her education later at Athens Technical College earning an Associate Degree of Nursing. She is now a registered nurse at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.

The family worships at Athens First United Methodist Church.