Chairmen of the board

'The Committee' meets daily for full agenda of Maryville football

When people retire, they normally don’t have to worry about meetings to solve problems. That’s not the case with a group of retired gentlemen who gather at Atlanta Bread Company each morning of the work week.

The group consists of Buddy Allen, 66; Lynn Kidd, 65; Robert Russell, 57; Bob Henry, 67; Bo Henry 78; and John R. Webb, 72.

The group is known by several different names. Some call them The Committee. According to one member, they’ve also been known by such monikers as "The Yah Yah Brotherhood" and "The Liar’s Club." What is obvious from being around them is they really enjoy one another’s company, even when they’re getting verbal "digs" on one another.

Often, politicians will stop by to chat and ask advice. When they’re not "solving" the problems of the world through rigorous debate, these guys are talking Maryville High School football.

While the men give one another a good-natured hard time, one of the patrons passing by got a little "dig" in on the guys.

"There’s only about 25 percent truth in anything they say," the unidentified man said with a laugh as he walked past their table.

But there’s a whole world of truth in the fact that the committee are knowledgeable, stanch, die-hard fans of Maryville High School football.

The group members said they had been meeting each weekday morning for about four years.

At times in the conversation, that was the closest they came to agreeing on anything.

Bo Henry is an Everett High School graduate. Bob Henry, Kidd and Allen are Maryville High School grads. Webb became a fan when his children started going to Maryville.

Russell has his own explanation. He said he started following Maryville High School football to follow his money. "That’s why I follow Maryville," he said. "I’m following my tax money."

Kidd quipped that Bob Henry "went there when it was the Franklin territory," Kidd said of Bob Henry, meaning before the state was formed.

Bob Henry is the only member of the group who ever played for Maryville High School. "He played on the line," Bo said. "He didn’t know anything."

The group said they have game day superstitions to ensure their team’s success. For away games, for example, where they eat before the game is important.

"You have to eat at same restaurant," Allen said.

"And you have to order the same thing you did last year," added Kidd. "I’ve seen us send waiters back for lemon ice box pie because that’s what we ate last year. And if we lose we don’t go back."

Not many restaurants have much to worry about lately, said Bob. "Two out of the last 100 games we ate at restaurants we can’t go back to," he said.

Allen and Kidd always arrive early. "Buddy and Lynn show up an hour and a half early to watch warm up and scout the opposing team," Russell said.

"You’ve got to get wind conditions and see the punters and kickers," Kidd said with a grin.

Webb always wears the same Maryville hat, and "It looks like it, too," Kidd said.

"We wash it every two years whether it needs it or not," added Allen.

The question about adding the family to their entourage brought immediate response.

"We don’t allow family to go," Kidd said, with a laugh.

"Why do you think we do this?" Bo Henry said, smiling.

"One fellow went out and bought a van just so we could all go in the same vehicle," Webb said of Allen.

"We’ve got a Rebels license tag," Allen added.

The secret to Maryville’s success brought a variety of opinions and some more serious football talk. Webb said the team always has players who grew up together and played together in Pee Wee and Midget leagues, as well as through the middle school years.

"They have the best fan support of any team in the state and have been blessed with great coaching," Webb added. "From Ted Wilson, Don Story, Benny Monroe and Jim Renfro up to the present staff -- who are fine gentlemen who have respect for the kids, and they have respect for them," he said.

Kidd agreed.

"I would have to say it’s the system," he said. "They start at the Pee Wee level and run the same plays thousands of times."
The men all agreed that the team’s biggest rival is in Blount County. "It’s got to be Alcoa," Kidd said.

"It means a lot right here (to beat Alcoa)," Russell said.

Bo Henry said it wasn’t always just Alcoa and Maryville who were the perennial power houses.

"In the old days, it was Maryville, Alcoa and Everett, and Maryville was the king. The year R.L. (Bob Henry) played (for Maryville), (Everett) beat Maryville."

In spite of teasing Allen about sitting under the press box so he could signal coach George Quarles plays during the game, the group did admit that the coach has never asked their advice on a game.

"That doesn’t stop us from having plenty of advice," Kidd said.

"We have all advice and plans for winning, and if they ever lose we’ll give it to them," Bob Henry said.

The group said that even if Maryville goes on a losing streak, they would still be fans. They all remember the 2000 season, when the team lost its first four games, then went on to win the state title that year.

"I’ve been a fan when they were losing," Allen said. "We don’t care how many they lose."

Kidd said they don’t expect perfection.

"We don’t care if they lose all their games as long as they beat Alcoa, get into the playoffs and win their last game," he said, meaning the state championship game.

The committee doesn’t forget that the game is about the players. Webb praised the attitudes of the Maryville players. "They always had that swagger. They don’t brow-beat or ‘hot dog’ a team," he said, adding that their attitude is "this is the game we play, and the game we’re going to play tonight."

"These are students out there playing for their school," Russell said. "They care about winning because they care about excellence. It’s not just this year, it’s a long, long tradition of excellence in what ever they do. Football is just one of many (areas)."

"George pointed out something after the ball game (with Morristown West)," Bob Henry remembered. "The seniors this year have never lost a ball game on Jim Renfro field,, not in four years," he said. "That says a lot for your seniors. That says a lot for your program -- when you have that much pride and tradition."

Although not all fans have the fervor of the committee, they say support for Maryville across the board is always good.
"The Maryville fan base usually outnumbers the other team, even on the road," Russell said. "It’s unbelievable to see how many come to see Maryville play."

"A lot of people say Maryville wouldn’t do this in 5-A," Webb said, adding that those people are wrong. "There are probably more good teams in 4A than 5A," he said. "That’s the way I look at it."

Breaking the Class 5A barrier is coming, Russell said. "It’s coming, oh yeah, unless they build a new high school. It’s inevitable they’re going to cross the 5A barrier."

With individuals so quick with verbal comebacks, this group has fun giving each other a hard time and rooting for their favorite high school football team.

"There’s not always consensus among the group," Bo Henry said. "We get into big arguments and come to no conclusion and go away friends."

"We don’t stay friends, but we still come back tomorrow," Bob Henry said with a laugh.

Now, with another state championship to fuel their bragging rights, the six men are ready to tackle other topics, but will be ready for another season next year. This season is now one from their memory banks -- and will live on at their committee table at Atlanta Bread Company.

To hear each member of "the committee" tell the best and worst memory of Maryville football in their own words, go to the Blount Today website and click on the video show.

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