2014 Cherokee County Hall of Fame Inductees
Victor Lamar Crane
At 5’8” inches tall, Victor Lamar “V.L.” Crane possessed a lethal combination of speed, strength, skill and game sense that baffled and bewildered larger opponents. Although a team championship eluded the Trojans during his time at Gaylesville High School tales of Cranes encounters with the giants of his era are plentiful. A fearless competitor, Crane would reach the end zone 16 times during his senior campaign (13 rushing, 3 punt returns). Additionally, Crane would throw for 10 more Trojan scores. Crane’s efforts propelled the Trojan back to all-state honorable mention status. Later in his senior season Crane also achieved all-state recognition on the basketball court averaging 22.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. An excellent student, Crane was a member of the Beta Club and served as the schools newspaper sports editor. He was honored as Mr. Gaylesville High School his senior year. Crane made the most of limited baseball opportunities afforded at that time. He was a regular on the Babe Ruth All-Star rosters. Crane also exceled on the first American Legion squad Cherokee County had formed in almost last twenty years. As a result of his all-round talents, Crane entertained offers from Mississippi State, Jacksonville State and Dartmouth. Crane would complete degree work at Northeast State Junior College and then obtain a B.A. in Economics from Jacksonville State University. Between Northeast State and Jacksonville State, V.L. served his country in the U.S. Army and worked for Reigel Textile Corporation in Trion, Ga. At Reigel, Crane participated on the company softball team leading them to four national tournament appearances. Later, Crane returned to Jacksonville State where he received his B.S. in Recreation and began his pursuit of a Master’s Degree in History. Still a scholar, Crane was named to the President’s List four times and the Dean’s List twice. Crane still gives back to the athletes in Cherokee County, serving as a volunteer coach. Crane was part of the Cedar Bluff baseball coaching staff in 2014 that guided the Tigers to a state semi-final appearance against Athens Bible. In V. L. Crane, heart and spirit trumped size. Without reservation, coaches, players and spectators could attest that
within his compact 5’8” frame Crane possessed an undeniable fiery spirit and the heart of a champion.
William Russell “Rusty” Jacoway sensed as early as 8th grade he was destined to be a head football coach when he would spend his time diagraming plays during study periods
Jacoway was a three-year football letterman at Collinsville High School and a member of the
1975 state championship basketball team. He graduated from Auburn University in 1978.
After a couple of assistant roles Jacoway secured a head coaching position at Sand Rock High School. Since that time Jacoway has spent thirty-one seasons prowling the Wildcat sidelines.
In total, Jacoway has collected 223 victories and made playoff appearances in 25 of those 31 years. During his tenure, the Wildcats have collected a total of 12 area/region championships. In 1985, Coach Jacoway directed the Wildcats to a 15-0 record and a Class 1A state championship capped with a 14-6 victory over Repton. The magical season was chronicled in the book “Fire on the Mountain” by Douglas Scott Wright. In 1997, Sand Rock finished as the Class 2A state runner-up. Historically, Jacoway currently ranks 11th overall among Alabama high school football coaches in number of victories at one school. The Alabama Sports Writers Association has twice honored Jacoway its Coach of the Year. Through the years, Jacoway has served as a mentor to many coaches and athletes. In 1998, the Sand Rock community expressed their sincere appreciation to Coach Jacoway re-naming their stadium in his honor. Jacoway’s impression has been lasting and his enduring legacy generational.
Doug Palmer was, quite literally, the big man on campus at Cedar Bluff High School. At 6’4”
and a solid 220 pounds Palmer played fullback and linebacker for Tiger head coach Jerry
Benefield. As a three year starter, Palmer garnered first team Class 1A all-state accolades in 1974
and 1975 at linebacker. In addition to being the Tigers’ total defensive leader during his senior season, Palmer was also the leading receiver on offense. A force on the basketball court as
well, Palmer earned all-state status by acquiring a second team selection. As a well-rounded
student, Palmer served his Cedar Bluff classmates as S.G.A. representative. Palmer’s work ethic, leadership skills and athletic ability resulted in a full scholarship to Livingston University, now
the University of West Alabama. Palmer lettered his freshman year at defensive tackle. Following
the spring game, Palmer made the move to the offensive line. A force on offense and defense
Palmer lettered three more years at Livingston. A bonafide NFL prospect Palmer suffered a knee injury his senior season. Palmer was invited to the Dallas Cowboys rookie camp in 1979 and participated in the 1980 NFL Free Agent Camp. Palmer remains a “big man” in Cedar Bluff
sharing his wealth of knowledge as a volunteer basketball and football coach.
Robert Thornton is truly a man for all seasons. A scholar, an athlete, a patriot, an entrepreneur and a benevolent spirit afford a glimpse into the portrait that illustrates the Hall of Fame
career of Robert C. Thornton. Thornton was a four-year letterman in basketball and football
at Cherokee County High School. At 17 years old, Thornton was selected to the all-state football
team as a tackle his senior season. Thornton also excelled in the classroom and was chosen
to represent Cherokee County High School at Boys State, where he was elected to the office
of Director of Archives & History. A four-year football scholarship provided Thornton the opportunity to graduate from the University of Alabama with a major in Industrial
Management along with minors in Accounting and Marketing. Thornton would enter
the U.S. Army and serve 23 distinguished years as an Aviation Officer. In 1985, he formed Thornton Properties, LLC in Guntersville. He served as President of the Marshall County Board
of Realtors, Past State Director of the Alabama Board of Realtors and is a Life Member of the Million Dollar Club. An avid outdoorsman, Thornton’s interest also included the Alabama Wildlife Federation, where he served as the organization’s president in 2001-2002.
Ronnie Whorton was a gifted, three-sport star at Cherokee County High School playing for legendary coaches Bobby Joe Johnson, Bill Hooper and Bobby Beckett. An all-area performer on the gridiron, Whorton had seven interceptions, including one for a touchdown, to go along with five scoring receptions as a wide receiver his senior season. A three year varsity starter on the court, Whorton would score 30-plus points in a single game four times in his career. As a junior, in 1976, Whorton was named the Most Valuable Player of the annual Christmas Invitational basketball tournament. As a senior, the sharp shooting Whorton led the Warriors to a record of 22-5. His 18.8 points per game average secured Whorton a 2nd team all-state berth from the Birmingham Post Herald. On the diamond Whorton had few peers. He was a member of the 1976 Warriors inaugural baseball team. Whorton led Cherokee County into the regional finals in back to back years while topping the team in batting average and home runs. After earning all-state accolades the highly recruited Whorton entered the University of Alabama where he redshirted his freshman year in baseball. As a two year letterman for the Crimson Tide Whorton played catcher, left field and served as designated hitter. In 1980, Whorton and fellow Hall of Famer David Boatfield were co-founders of the Centre Athletics baseball team playing as part of the National Baseball Congress. Whorton earned all-region honors, as well as, collecting the state M.V.P. award. That same year, while playing alongside other college stars on the USA Athletes in Action team in the Philippines, Whorton’s name reached legendary status. The former Warrior hit a historic home run that carried out of the stadium, a feat previously accomplished only by Yankee legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Whorton’s name was engraved on the stadium wall next to the two Yankee sluggers.