Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

July 20, 2010

Stories unfold as 1959 Beavers reminisce

BLUEFIELD — Wars in Greece had a hand in temporarily jeopardizing the first football championship of Bluefield High School, according to a Greek-born member of the 1959 champs.

Bill Kertsos, a starting lineman for the Beavers, explained the story when the team reunited as part of the Bluefield Class of 1960 reunion last Friday at the Bluefield Elks Lodge No. 269.

“When we won the state championship, they wanted me to produce a certificate of birth, which we couldn’t find,” Kertsos said. “After World War II and the civil wars over there, a lot of the records were gone. So what happened was, there was a big controversy.”

The flareup soon involved Parkersburg, whose team Bluefield had beaten 19-13; officials in Charleston; and the sports editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Virgil “Stubby” Currence, according to Kertsos.

“We were going to have to forfeit the game,” Kertsos said. “But finally, I got some paperwork (from) over there, brought it, and they let it go.”

“Stubby said, ‘What do you expect the kid to do, swim over there, get the certificate in his mouth, and swim back?’ I remember that in the newspaper.”

“I was born in ’42, but at that time, during World War II, when the Germans were over there, there wasn’t any paperwork. People did not have their paperwork.

“So my mother went around to all these places ... whatever she could find, to stamp a certificate for me, that I was born in Pyreas, which was a seaport of Athens. And apparently, the controversy was over with.”

Kertsos, who returns to Greece periodically, said that when he enrolled in Bluefield in the fourth grade, “I couldn’t speak English at all.”

In another small group, receiver Jabo Williams and quarterback Bill Kinser talked about the first touchdown of the title game with the Big Reds on Nov. 21, 1959 at Laidley Field in Charleston.

The score was a trick play, in which Richard Bourne ran to the right with the ball and then threw it across the field to his quarterback, now an eligible receiver who had slipped through the coverage.

“It was 26 Running Pass,” Kinser recalled in an instant. “The first (Bluefield) play was the 26 run, a handoff to Richard Bourne. It didn’t get anywhere. I remember seeing his legs up in the air. They were ready for it.”

On the last play of the first half, Bourne ran right again. It looked like the same play.

“Then he stopped, and threw it back,” Kinser said. “Their end was supposed to hit me on every play, (but) he went to sleep.” The touchdown covered 40 yards.

Williams said, “We used that before any of the pros used anything like that.”

Williams caught a 52-yard touchdown pass from Kinser in the second half.

According to a story on the title game by Larry Hypes, Kertsos made a key defensive play near the end of the game “to help Beaver get the ball back and run out the final seconds.”

Kinser talked about how coach Merrill Gainer tried to keep some of the pressure off the signal-caller.

Kinser said, “He would tell us, ‘Let some of those linemen help you out in the huddle.’ If we got in trouble, he would send some plays in. I guess he was really relaxed under him, we had fun with him. He would tell us, ‘Now, this is what you have to do to win.’ ”

At the start of the week leading up to the championship game, Williams remembered Gainer showing up “with films under his arm,” saying, “ ‘Fellows, I’m going to show you how we’re going to beat Parkersburg.’ ... He would tell us exactly what their weaknesses were, offense and defense.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

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