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Memory Lane: Pat Jervis successful athlete, coach for Appalachia Bulldogs

Bill Lane • Sep 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Born: Jan. 7, 1951

Where: Andover, Va.

Residence: Kingsport

High School/Colleges: Appalachia/Milligan, Clinch Valley

Then: Author Thomas Wolfe was wrong when he said you can’t go home again. Pat Jervis, after an outstanding career as an athlete with the Appalachia Bulldogs, returned to the high school and has had two successful runs as coach there.

Jervis and many other athletes got their start in sports at Andover, a mining camp near Appalachia.

“We grew up playing ball, hunting and fishing,’’ Jervis said.

He lived across the street from Andover’s two-room school and from daylight to dark he’d be on the sandlot playing football or baseball with the neighborhood boys.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that 20 of Appalachia’s all-district football players were from Andover.

Three members of the 1968 Bulldogs football team were all- staters — Jervis, Melvin Dysart and Edward “Stonega Stallion’’ Clark. Jervis and Dysart were ends and Clark was a running back.

Clark’s performances as a prolific runner are legend. Opponents needed any edge they could get to tackle him.

The way coach Jim Riggs kept defenses from ganging up on Clark was to have quarterback Bobby Givens throw the ball to Jervis, an end who caught 14 touchdown passes as a senior. Nine of these occurred on play-action fakes to Clark. “We threw to keep people honest,’’ Jervis said.

Riggs took a conservative approach on offense. “In the three years I played,’’ Jervis said, “we never split an end.’’

Jervis also played defensive halfback and linebacker as a sophomore, defensive tackle as a junior and defensive end as a senior.

“If you were a boy attending Appalachia High School,’’ Jervis said, “you played football. Those who didn’t got pressure from the coach.’’

Jervis wasn’t considered good enough to make the football varsity as a freshman in 1965, and he concentrated on playing basketball. The football team went 9-1 that season.

He joined the fray as a sophomore and stood out for three years. In 1966, Appalachia’s record was 10-0. There were no playoffs back then. The highlight was beating Gate City 14-7 to snap the Blue Devils’ 19-game winning streak.

Other schools switched game nights to allow their fans to attend Appalachia/Gate City games.

The following year Appalachia lost 27-6 at Gate City. The Bulldogs finished that season 9-1.

With some 10,000 spectators witnessing the spectacle, Appalachia and Gate City tied 6-6 when Jervis was a senior. That was the only blemish on the Bulldogs’ 9-0-1 record.

Clark’s family had moved to the Stonega community from Benham, Ky. He was a starting guard at Bland as an eighth-grader. Integration closed the school and he attended Appalachia.

“Jim Riggs saw Clark get off the bus and knew he’d discovered Barry Aistrop’s replacement,’’ Jervis said. “(Clark) was Aistrop’s backup as a freshman and moved into the lineup as a starter early in the 10th game when Aistrop suffered a rib injury.

“I didn’t see Clark play that much. I was on the end blocking. We ran a belly-series offense with a full-house backfield.’’

Clark broke the state scoring record as a junior and bettered it the next year. He gained more than 5,000 yards.

“Contrary to rumors,’’ Jervis said, “Clark was just 18 years old as a senior. He was a man playing among boys.’’

An uncle of NFL running backs Thomas Jones and Julius Jones, Clark drowned in Florida while pulling a youngster out of the Atlantic Ocean.

The late Tom Turner, whose name was synonymous with Appy football and basketball, lived near Jervis and the two were lifelong friends. Turner started at tackle as a freshman when Jervis, Clark and Dysart were seniors.

Jervis played basketball and baseball as well. As a forward on the basketball team, he averaged double figures as a junior and senior and totaled 710 points.

“The program was down,’’ he said. “We had trouble keeping a coach. Gary Holloman, an Appalachia graduate who came in 1966 and started four sophomores, gradually rebuilt the program and later won a state championship.’’

Jervis was a four-year starter at third base on the baseball team. Appy tied Coeburn for the Lonesome Pine District championship when he was a freshman playing on a senior-dominated team. He batted .500 as a sophomore, .350 as a junior and .300 as a senior.

“I had a great time,’’ Jervis said. “I loved it.’’

Jervis had some scholarship feelers but nothing solid. He attended Milligan College and transferred to Clinch Valley (now Virginia- Wise), where he played basketball briefly.

Clark has coached for 25 years, beginning his career at Dryden. He’s had two tenures totaling 17 years at Appy, coaching boys and girls. His win-loss record is 198-175 with the boys and 192-172 with the girls.

Jervis guided the girls team to the Group A state title in 2000, defeating J.J. Kelly in the finals — the sixth time they’d met.

Appy is the fifth-smallest school in Virginia with 220 students, but Jervis is on a mission with the boys program. Last March, the Bulldogs reached the state quarterfinals. They will have 11 of 12 players returning this year.

Now: Pat Jervis and his wife, Teresa, moved their family to Kingsport several years ago to reduce Teresa’s travel time to her job. She is a real estate agent.

Patton Jervis, an older son, was an all-region guard under his father. Stepson Randall Carter also played for him at Appy, as did younger son Seth and daughter Lauren.

“I enjoyed coaching my children immensely,’’ Pat Jervis said.

Seth and Lauren both transferred to Dobyns-Bennett and played basketball here.

Bill Lane is a Times-News sports writer. E-mail him at blane@timesnews.net.

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