2017 MHS Athletic Hall of Honor Inductees
Manatee County High School Class of 1954
Walter William "Bill" Anderson-Student Athlete/Lifetime Achievement
Bill Anderson came to MCHS in the fall of 1951, but broke his leg before football season started. The next season, his talents were unknown on the team but Wheeler Leeth saw a 6’3”, 190 lb. young man who wanted to play in the backfield. Coach Leeth had other ideas and told him to play defensive end which Bill did without question. Manatee finished 7-3-1 that year and won the Southern Division of the South Florida Conference, losing to Winter Haven in a playoff for the overall SFC Championship. Manatee got even the next year beating Winter Haven in a Championship rematch and finishing 10-1 to produce the first 10 win season in Manatee History – a feat that would not be repeated for 30 years. Bill was named All-South Florida Conference, All State and All Southern and was swarmed by college recruiters. After wanting to go to UF, Bill decided on University of TN where he became unhappy because freshmen were not eligible to play and he became a “tackling dummy” until the coach was replaced by Bowden Wyatt. Bill became the Vols starting wingback in 1955 and helped the team to a 6-3-1 record. The next year, the Vols were ranked #2 in the US and that team is still considered one of the 3 or 4 best in TN history. Bill was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1958 NFL draft by Washington Redskins. After playing 6 years, he retired from football, joining the TN staff as an assistant coach. He was drafted by Green Bay Packers in 1965 and played 24 games averaging 11.9 yds per catch and earning a Super Bowl ring in the first Super Bowl on January 15, 1967. He returned to UT as a co-anchor announcer for 31 years and founded an insurance company specializing in truck insurance. He was inducted into the TN Sports Hall of Fame and Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.. Bill passed away April 18, 2017 and this message was received from Billy Anderson: "Our entire family has been blessed because of Manatee High School and the positive impact it had on my father’s life. When he first started school at Manatee, he and his family were living in an old Army tent at the local campground. To think how far he climbed from that situation is truly amazing. MHS clearly helped him off to a great start in more ways than one.
Manatee County High School Class of 1957
George Arthur Henderson, Jr. - Student Athlete
George Henderson was the “Golden Boy” in a time and place when that meant something – he had it all and he did it all setting records in the mid-50’s at Manatee that still stood many years later scoring 230 points, rushing for 1,854 yards and averaging 9.2 yards a carry. A 5’ 10 ¼ in, 150 pound halfback, George was Co-Captain of the team, All Conference, All State and All South in football during the original “golden era” of football in Manatee County from 1954-1956. He was so good that Coach Wheeler Leeth pulled him out of the games after the first half on many occasions to keep from running up the score. George wasn’t one to take all the credit, saying that the linemen did the work and made the holes so all he to do was run through them – he didn’t like to get hit and ran fast so that wouldn’t happen. And run fast he did in football and on the track team winning State Titles in the long jump and 440 relay and tying a state record in the 100 yard dash. George set a new Western Conference record in the broad jump at 21 feet 2 ½ inches at the Conference Meet in St. Pete. After leading the ‘Canes in football to a 9 – 0 – 1 season in 1955 and an 8 – 0 – 2 season in 1956, college recruiters definitely wanted George and he received 15 scholarship offers. He took recruiting trips to Florida, Florida State & Tennessee but, much to the dismay of a town desperate for it’s hero to strike gold in a bigger world, George decided college football was not for him. In 1958 he married the cute little MCHS Cheerleader that he had been dating and went on to become the Pastor of the First Baptist Church and School of Alva from 1966 until 2012 and the Chaplin for Lee County Sheriff’s Dept. George put his football skills to good use by coaching the Church’s school flag football team to a State Championship.We regret that George passed away June 27, 2017.
Manatee High School Class of 1988
Chandra Diane Howard Moore - Student Athlete
Chandra started playing tennis when she was 13 years old and played #1 for MHS starting with her freshman year. She was always a district winner, ranked 11th in the state in the Girls 18 & Under category and went to State Championships all 4 years at MHS. Her coach in her senior year, Patricia McClain, said Chandra was all you wanted in a tennis player – a fighter, determined and very dedicated. After graduation, Chandra headed to Samford University in Homewood, AL where she was awarded their first woman's full tennis scholarship. She played #1 all four years at Samford in both singles and doubles. She was named New South Women’s Athletic Conference Player of the Year as both a freshman and sophomore and Player of the Year in the NSWAC for 2 straight seasons as the Lady Bulldogs won the top three flights and the number one doubles spot for New South’s final championship. She was named All Conference for the 4 years she was at Samford. After her college graduation, she played professionally for the 1994 World Team Tennis. (Chandra is joined by her husband Ryan, their sons Collin & Payne, her parents Chuck & Carolyn Howard, her brother & sister-in-law Chuck & Kerri and her Mother-in-law and Father-in-law, Duane & Margot Moore. Chandra was nominated by Ryan Moore, MHS Class of 1994
Manatee High School Class of 1979
Sandra Marie Hudson Rocklein - Student Athlete/Lifetime Achievement
Sandy had the desire to work and work and work at whatever sport she was playing and she played them all. She was a standout basketball, volleyball and softball player at MHS being chosen as team most valuable player in both volleyball and basketball her sophomore year. As a junior, she was MVP in volleyball, All Area and All County in basketball and softball. As a senior she was Basketball Player of the Year. After graduation, she continued her education at Manatee Junior College (now SCF) and then Florida Southern in Lakeland. She won 12 letters in college, earned All Conference, All State, and All American honors in every sport and named a first team All American in volleyball her senior year at Florida Southern. Only a dislocated shoulder kept her away from trying out for the U.S. Olympic team but it didn’t stop her from leading Florida Southern to a 4th place finish in the national tournament in 1981. Sandra was a member of the inaugural class of the Florida Southern Hall of Fame, was inducted into the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame, and the Manatee Community College Hall of Fame. After her college career, Sandy encountered the biggest challenge of her life when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1986 and it finished her sports career and her dream to coach volleyball. After many treatments it was arrested but returned again in 1996 and after a long series of treatments and surgery, it was arrested again. Her competitive desire to win made her excel in sports but, more importantly, it let cancer know it was up against a winner. Sandy has worked at Samoset Elementary School for the past 24 years helping with special needs children. Sandy was nominated by her sister, Lisa Hudson Stobaugh, MHS Class of 1987.
Manatee High School Class of 1960
Lloyd Keith Koehler - Student Athlete/Lifetime Achievement
Lloyd was a Varsity offensive halfback at MHS playing for Wheeler Leeth and also running track and playing baseball. He was Co-Captain of the football team, leading rusher and leading scorer in his senior year. He set an MHS record for 32 carries, the most in one game. In his senior year he was selected for Honorable Mention, All Western Conference as an offensive back; selected for the All South Team and honorable mention for the High School All American Team. As a result of his outstanding show of ability in sports at MHS, he was awarded a full football scholarship to University of Richmond, VA where he played for 3 years until illness necessitated his return to Bradenton. Lloyd received his AA degree from MJC and his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from USF. In 1969, he signed to play one season with St. Pete Blazers Professional Football Team when they won the North American Football League Championship. Lloyd left his football career and began his professional career with GTE Data Services where he authored the first nationwide Affirmative Action Program written for GTE. Lloyd received his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Suffield University and was certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources by the Society for Human Resource Management. Lloyd put his football and organizational abilities to good use as the founding member and head coach of a youth football league in St. Pete providing a wonderful experience for over 500 boys and girls. He also coached in Apple Valley, CA touching the lives of over 400 youth. Lloyd lives in Garrison, MT and was nominated by Roger Pettee, MHS Class of 1961.
Manatee High School Class of 1984
Stephen Matthew "Steve" Peebles
Steve was a football player at MHS with a four year team record of 35-4. He was awarded a football scholarship to Southwestern College in Winfield, KS where he was a 4 year started at offensive guard and was All Conference in his junior and senior year. The team was Conference Champs in his freshman & sophomore year and runner-up in junior & senior year. In addition to football, Steve was on the weightlifting team and played baseball at MHS. After college, Steve came back to MHS coaching in football, weightlifting, track & field and baseball. As an Assistant Football Coach, Steve helped MHS win State Football Championships in 1989, 1992 and 2011. He received the FACA Outstanding Assistant Coach Award in 2002 – one of only 127 coaches in all sports to have received this honor over the last 20 years. Manatee was State runner-up in 1993 and 2009 and in the Final Four 1990,1994,2005,2006,2010,2012 & 2014. As the head weightlifting coach for 5 years, he coached 2 individual State Champions and for 3 years in a row the Varsity Team was undefeated ranking in the Top 8 of the Final Rankings. He was also the Asst. Track & Field Coach at MHS for 3 years coaching individual District Champions in Shot & Discuss. He was the Freshman Head Coach at MHS for 1 year with a team record of 9-0. Steve was nominated by Jacqueline Peebles Watkins, MHS Class of 1980.
Manatee High School Class of 1961
Roger Charles Pettee
Roger was a 6’3” 195 lb center and linebacker and an outstanding football player at MHS making 19 unassisted tackles in one game for Manatee. He was chosen as a member of Senior Scholastic’s All-American team, the first “Cane to be chosen for this honor; the Eastern Division All Conference Team; the All-State team; the North-South All-Star Team and the All-Southern Team and was the first player since 1955 to receive those honors. He was chosen as a member of the National High School All America Football Team in 1960 by the Wigwam Wisemen of America. Roger was heavily recruited by many colleges and Roger signed with FSU but wanted to play at Florida. A nose guard from St. Pete signed with the Gators but wanted to play for FSU. The schools had an agreement that no player could sign with one and transfer to the other but agreed to the swap between these two players. It’s the only time that ever happened. Roger went on to a solid career at Florida where he played linebacker for the Gators from 1962-1964. At 6’4”, 225 lbs., he was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the 5th round of the 1965 NFL draft and soon found he was one of the smaller linebackers in the camp. He also played for the San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons before retiring from football. In later years, Roger has given generously of his time and talent in helping young kids in many ways. He adopted a school in the Dominican Republic along with a dysfunctional medical clinic, a basketball court in disrepair, the adjoining baseball park and 350 children. He carried athletic gear, medical supplies and hard earned cash to them several times a year. Roger established the Tampa Bay Free Kidz Store letting kids with good grades and citizenship marks come to pick out presents donated by the community. The Rotary Foundation named Roger a Paul Harris Fellow which is the highest honor bestowed by the organization. Roger was nominated by Lloyd Koehler, MHS Class of 1960
Manatee High School Class of 1994
Willie Taggert - Student Athlete
Willie Taggart believed at a young age that he had opportunities to excel and dreamed of playing football in the NFL. For Willie, sports provided a diversion from the negative things happening around him keeping him on the right track. He was small but lethal on the football field and what he lacked in size, he made up for in skill. Willie played football, basketball and ran track & field at Manatee and had to work hard to prove himself because of his size.In his sophomore year, he was moved to varsity as the 150 lb. backup quarterback to Tommie Frazier but Tommie’s fame at Manatee didn’t stop Willie. He worked hard,got his first break when Frazier was injured and Willie had an opportunity as a starting quarterback. He didn’t disappoint–he ran the Hurricane’ option offense to near perfection while leading Manatee to an easy victory that led to him receiving conference player of the week honors.He was first team All-State and All-Conference as a senior at MHS after guiding the 'Canes to the state 5A Championship game in his junior year. He helped post a 26-4 record during his last 2 years at MHS while recording more than 3,000 yards passing and 975 yards on the ground. Willie’s performance was outstanding but the college recruiters were not knocking on his door and he was unsure what the future held. His break came when Jim Harbaugh came to visit and he was recruited by Western Kentucky for a team that was in trouble. A lasting friendship had started and Willie became “one of the Harbaugh family”.Willie was one of only 3 WKU players in the previous 50 years to be a 4 year starter at quarterback. In his junior & senior year, he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award and an All American in his senior year. In 2010, Willie became the head football coach at WKU turning that program around to becoming winners until 2012 when he moved closer to home as the head coach at USF and in 2016 became the head coach at University of Oregon where he remains today. Willie has credited his parents, who worked long hours tending vegetable and orange fields, for instilling in him his respected work ethic.
Manatee County High School 1955 Football Team
It had been 40 years since Manatee had swept through a football season without losing a game. The 1915 team was the last to do it until the 1950's when Wheeler Leeth led them from 1954-1957 in a 24 game winning streak and it would be almost 30 years before Manatee High School repeated such unbeaten success. Rising steadily in the high school football poll in which the Canes wound up fifth as the only undefeated major team in the State. Strict discipline was apparent with the football team and it was nothing to have a 3 or 4 hour practice – if you made a mistake in practice, Coach Leeth made you run to the fence and back but did the same thing himself if he made a mistake. Leeth didn’t like ratings and warned of overconfidence among the players and many Manatee fans. The team was like a “well oiled” machine that just kept knocking off opponents. Manatee had 5 players on the 1955 team who were All-Conference, All-State and chosen to play on the All Western Conference Football Team. The newspapers were full of stories about the ‘Canes as you can see in some of the scrapbooks on our Memoriabilia tables and there were so many outstanding football players and statistics that it’s difficult to know which ones to talk about first. Out of 45 players on the 1955 team, 18 have passed away. The team was nominated by Bill Howard, MCHS Class of 1957
Manatee County High School 1955 Track Team
Manatee won just about everything in the Western Conference Track Meet. The ‘Canes smashed 9 Western Conference records, 3 of 6 unbroken records and eclipsed five of their own school standards in a rousing victory but unfortunately their trophy was also broken. The comment was made that there was no need to get it fixed because they would just replace it with another championship next year – that’s Hurricane Confidence!! After winning the Western Conference Track Title, a well rounded team of thin-clads from MHS headed to a large field of outstanding track & field stars for the Class AA State meet at University of Florida. Track was of little importance at MHS until Coach George Strouse took over just two years before and began a rebuilding job for a track team that received little attention. That scenario quickly changed and although Manatee didn’t have the worst track in the Conference, it was mainly because some schools had nothing at all. After winning the State Title, another coach asked Coach Strouse when Manatee High was going to give him a new track for his team. Strouse tried to change the subject but the other coach said “I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to start training my boys on a cow pasture and maybe we can win a State Championship too”. Of the 44 members of the 1955 Track Team, 16 are deceased. The team was nominated by Bill Howard, MCHS Class of 1957.