To thus characterize the performance of Deacon clubs is in no way
to discount the enthusiasm and dedication of the players and coaches
or to dismiss the support of students, cheerleaders, alumni, and other
fans. It is simply to recognize the hard reality that Wake Forest was a
small school of limited financial resources, generally pitted against
larger schools with more money to spend on their athletic programs
and more attractive recruiting vistas.
Football, always an interest of intense passion and hope, was se-
verely wounded by the departure of Coach "Peahead" Walker in a
dispute with Dr. Tribble over salary (a development recounted in
Chapter VI). In the fall of 1947 Walker's team ran off two impressive
victories over Georgetown and Clemson and was ranked fourteenth in
the nation going into the third game against Carolina. With Tom
Fetzer at quarterback and Bill Gregus running wild, Wake Forest
won, 19-7, and moved into eleventh place in the national rankings. Ed
Royston and Jim Duncan also starred. The team wound up the season
with six victories and four losses, but Walker had delivered the kind
of excitement that seemed to be his trademark.
Fetzer, Gregus, Duncan, and Bernie Hanula led the team in 1948, a
6-3 season that saw wins over Duke, State, and South Carolina. In a
strong finish Wake Forest accepted a bid to play Baylor on New
Year's Day 1949 in the Dixie Bowl at Birmingham, Alabama. Baylor
won 20-7, but it was an exciting game. Gregus was still carrying the
ball in the fall, and Ed Bradley, Billy "Nub" Smith, and John "Red"
O'Quinn also starred, but it was a 4-6 losing season brightened only
by wins over Duke, Duquesne, William and Mary, and Clemson. The
1950 season was a big one, with six victories, two ties, and a single
loss (to Clemson, 13-12). The Deacons reeled off impressive victories
over Richmond, William and Mary, Carolina, George Washington,
Duke, and South Carolina. Among the stars were Jim Staton, Joe
Koch, and Bob Auffarth.
The success of the team inspired a sportswriter for Old Gold and
Black to predict that in Winston-Salem the Wake Forest squad would
be playing before "capacity crowds of from fifty to sixty thousand
fans" in a beautiful new stadium which "will cost in the vicinity of a
half-million dollars." Time would shrink the first figure and
considerably inflate the second.
The powerful showing in the fall of 1950 was "Peahead" Walker's
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