Lawson, Crowder, Stewart, 1958 football team among new Burton Hall of Famers

Kevin Mays • Oct 16, 2018 at 9:12 PM

The J.I. Burton Hall of Fame added its newest class of inductees over the weekend.

Among the Class of 2018 is the former voice of the Raiders for over two decades, the leader of the football chain gang for over four decades and solid athletes from several decades.

The inductees were recognized at Burton’s football contest with Grundy on Friday night and inducted into the hall at Saturday’s banquet at the high school in Norton.

The inductees were:

Gerald Lawson Jr.

Lawson is the longest continuous serving volunteer in the history of Burton.

The retiree from Old Dominion Power Co. has served on the football chain gang at Burton for 45 years. In those years he has missed only one game and that was for the birth of his daughter.

The 1970 Burton graduate will be recognized by the Virginia General Assembly for his continuous service to Burton and Norton.

In addition to his work on the football chain gang, Lawson is also a member of the Norton Board of Zoning Appeals, the Norton Rescue Squad board of directors and the Norton Volunteer Fire Department.

Ken Crowder

Crowder served as Burton’s public address announcer for 21 years for both football and basketball as wall as MC for several school functions.

He also served as president and as a coach of the Norton Youth League Football program for 20 years.

Crowder, the general manager and director of golf at the Golf Club of Bristol, has been a PGA pro since 1998.

He is also one of the personalities on the long-running, popular “Pigskin Picks” radio show on WAXM radio.

During his high school playing days, Crowder was the Lonesome Pine District golfer of the year in 1977. He was medalist for the 1977 Region D and LPD golf tournaments and was named to the All-Region D and All-LPD golf teams in 1976 and ’77.

Ethan Stewart

Stewart was a dominant athlete in four sports at Burton.

He was the football team’s quarterback during one of the Raiders’ dominating eras and was the LPD athlete of the year in 2007 and ’08.

The attorney was also the VHSCA all-state quarterback in 2006 and ’07, as well as region player of the year and LPD player of the year for football in the same seasons.

Stewart was also named All-LPD basketball in 2007 and ’08. In baseball, he was named All-LPD for four seasons and was all-region for three years.

In track and field, he was a member of the Region D champion 4x100-meter relay team his junior year.

Dr. John Fulton

The valedictorian and class president of 1956 was also quite the athlete at Burton.

He was an All-District 8 football player in 1954. He also was a letterman in basketball and baseball.

Fulton, who obtained his undergraduate degree, master’s degree and doctorate from North Carolina State, taught at Clemson and was a visiting professor at the school from 2003-’12. He also served as dean of arts and sciences at West Florida and at the University of Missouri-Rolla.

From 1997-2002, Fulton was the vice provost of academic affairs at Virginia Tech.

Fred McConnell

McConnell was posthumously inducted following his death earlier this year.

McConnell was an all-state football player on the team that won the 1958 District 8 championship.

McConnell was an all-district football player in 1956, ’57 and’58. He was also all-district baseball in 1955, ’56 and ’57.

The 1958 football team

Long before state and regional championships, teams played for district championships as the highest honor. The 1958 squad — coached by the legendary Bill Fitchko, for whom Burton’s stadium is partially named — went undefeated and won the prestigious District 8 championship.

Tragically, Fitchko died the same night the ’58 team won the district title.


Gate City’s Kate Pendleton has made her decision on continuing her education and softball career.

Pendleton is scheduled to sign a letter of intent Tuesday at Gate City to play softball at Milligan College.


Ridgeview at Abingdon — This one is for all the marbles when it comes to the football championship in the Mountain 7 District.

Undefeated Ridgeview (7-0, 5-0) will win the district title with a victory over Class 3 Abingdon.

Abingdon (5-2, 3-0) still has a Mountain 7 game at Union (6-1, 3-1) on Oct. 26.

J.I. Burton at Castlewood — This scenario has played out in the past.

J.I. Burton (5-2, 2-0) is in the driver’s seat when it comes to winning the Cumberland District title. The Raiders travel to Castlewood this Friday night in what most expect to be an easy contest.

But hold on.

Castlewood, while struggling at times, has also had its moments and only has one loss in district play. An upset by the Blue Devils (3-5, 2-1) could turn the Cumberland race on its ear.


Luke Reed, Gate City

Reed, a sophomore, was a workhorse for the Blue Devils last Friday night in Gate City’s first win of the season.

Reed carried the ball 30 times for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the 23-20 win over Lee High.


Ridgeview continues to hold down the top spot in Southwest Virginia.

The region’s top Southwest Virginia high school football teams with their ranking, ranking from last week, record heading into this week’s game and how they fared last week.

1. Ridgeview (1) (7-0) beat John Battle 24-7

2. Union (2) (6-1) beat Wise Central 38-13

3. Chilhowie (3) (7-0) beat Rural Retreat 50-0

4. Graham (4) (6-1) beat Virginia High 44-7

5. Patrick Henry (5) (7-0) did not play

6) Abingdon (6) (5-2) did not play

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