Cullowhee, N.C. - This season marks the 40th anniversary of another great Catamount football team, the 1974 squad which was led by legendary head coach, Bob Waters. This squad will be recognized as a part of the All Sports Reunion on Homecoming Weekend, 2014 Oct. 23-26.
In addition to the 1974 team recognition, WCU will also shine the "Catamount Spotlight" on former football players Keith Elliott (1965-68) and Joe Love (1965-68).
Western Carolina's 1974 football team finished with an overall record of 9-2 and on the strength of nine-consecutive victories - matching WCU's longest in-season winning streak - earned a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Playing the first season in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, WCU scored victories over nationally-ranked Indiana State (W, 18-3) and Western Kentucky (20-2), limiting the two nationally-ranked teams to a combined five points. The two losses that year came by a combined 10 points - 10-3 to Murray State and 10-7 to Louisiana Tech, bookending the season.
That 1974 Catamount squad finished ranked eighth in the final NCAA Division II poll.
Five players and two coaches on the 1974 squad have since been enshrined in the Western Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame including Wayne Tolleson (1990), Jerry Gaines (1991), Darrell Lipford (2004), Steve Yates (2009) and Al "Mutt" DeGraffenreid (2013). The two coaches to be inducted are former head coach Bob Waters and defensive line coach, Bob Setzer.
Statistically, the 1974 Catamounts were solid on both sides of the football, averaging 324.8 yards of total offense per game including 133.4 rushing yards and 191.3 passing yards per game. Western Carolina's all-time rushing leader, Darrell Lipford (1974-77) paced the squad with 983 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns as a freshman, while Herb Cole scored a team-best nine TDs while averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
For more information on the Western Carolina All Sports Reunion, contact Assistant Athletic Director Jamaal Mayo of the Catamount Club at (828) 227-2244 or by Email at email@example.com.
Four different receivers recorded double-digit receptions that season led by All-America selection Jerry Gaines with 49 catches for 809 yards and two touchdowns. He was flanked by Eagle Moss who hauled in 31 catches for 431 yards and a team-best four touchdowns with Mike Green (20-305) and Wayne Tolleson (14-289, 2 TDs) also reaching double-digit catches.
The Catamount receiving corps predominantly took passes from two quarterbacks in 1974 - Jeff Walker, who finished 93-of-186 for 1,447 yards and seven touchdowns, and Don Dalton who completed 41-of-78 for 502 yards and a TD.
Conversely, the defense held foes to an average of just 7.9 points per game - only giving up nine touchdowns and 87 total points on the year - and just 245 yards of total offense per contest. The unit was led by Greg Whiteside with 76 solo stops with 10 sacks, while Felix Setzer had 71 solo tackles and seven sacks. Yates earned AP All-America plaudits in 1974, recording 74 solo tackles and two sacks with a fumble recovery.
WCU's ball-hawking defense also helped the Catamounts finish the year with a +8 in overall turnover margin. WCU forced opponents into 34 fumbles with 22 takeaways and came up with 21 interceptions led by David Rathburn with nine picks, which remains tied with Harvey Walker (1969) for the school's single-season record. Rathburn added two fumble recoveries, a stat paced by Bob Jablonski (4) and Monfread Manns (3).
For more information on the Western Carolina All Sports Reunion, contact Assistant Athletic Director Jamaal Mayo of the Catamount Club at (828) 227-2244 or by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information is available online at CatamountSports.com.