Elmore, Wilson start 39th season calling Viking games

The tradition continues

By W. BRIAN HALE Eagle Sports Writer
Posted 8/22/18

There are several iconic traditions associated with the Jasper Viking Football program that have been established throughout the years.

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Elmore, Wilson start 39th season calling Viking games

The tradition continues

Posted

There are several iconic traditions associated with the Jasper Viking Football program that have been established throughout the years.

From Friday nights under the lights at Ki-Ro Gambrell Stadium, to seniors leading the team onto the field and pivotal victories over rivals after four quarters of grueling action.

The broadcasting duo of WJLX 101.5's Johnny Elmore and Woody Wilson have been part of the Viking tradition, calling memorable moments and bringing the action to fans on the radio for 38 seasons.

Elmore and Wilson will begin a new season behind the microphone tonight when the Vikings renew their rivalry against the Cullman Bearcats at 7 p.m., while chronicling the debut of new Jasper head coach Bryan Moore.

While the duo's art of calling action has changed little in their time together, the technology associated with the broadcast, as well as the players involved in the game itself has seen the most radical change.

"When Woody and I started out on this journey, we were essentially using 8-tracks in the recording of our broadcasts. We've gone from reel-to-reel from those 8-tracks to the digital age of audio file formats. The technology has changed completely," Elmore said. "That technology has followed to the players — they are all on social media, communicate on their smart phones and talk amongst each other. When we started, many players didn't have a phone of any kind — just a sprinkling of some home phones here and there."

 "I think the biggest change I've noticed is in the players themselves. They're all bigger, stronger and faster than what we saw 20 or 30 years ago, even as little as a decade ago for that matter," Wilson said. "30 years ago, a guy who weighed 210 lbs. played on the offensive line in most cases — now they're lining up at runningback. You see that every level of football and we've certainly seen it during our time with the Vikings. Additionally, there's really no break for a team — they go from the end of the season into offseason conditioning and preparing for the spring. After the spring session is over, they go into summer conditioning. It's now a continuous cycle."

Traveling through memory lane, there's no shortage of moments that stand out for either broadcasting veteran.

For Elmore, one memory that remains prominent involves a game in 1983, where former Viking head coach David Campbell had succeeded in renewing the rivalry against the Dora Bulldogs.

"The stadium was standing room-only at Ki-Ro — in fact, we had people watching the game from outside of the stadium fence, up in the trees, virtually anywhere someone could find a spot," Elmore said. "The game couldn't have been more dramatic. The Vikings won the game on fourth down on the last play of the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass to David Banks — who is one of our staff members at WJLX. The stadium went wild, the likes of which I have never seen."

Wilson's standout memory inclines towards a slightly comedic slant, where technical problems with the lighting during the Vikings' trip to Minor forced the contest to be played under unusual circumstances.

"A transformer blew and knocked out the lights in the entire stadium. When we finally had the lights come back on, only one side of the field was lit, so we had to play the complete second half of the game on the lit side of the field," Wilson said. "It was bedlam with the teams constantly having to shift field position in between plays and possessions — the referees stopped the game every few minutes to check and see if the ball was in the right spot. Plus, I don't know if anyone in the stadium ever got over the shock and noise of the transformer blowing — it was like a bomb going off."

Moving into the present era, both Elmore and Wilson have met Moore and are impressed with the new coach of the helm of the Vikings' program — both feeling the team is in capable hands.

"He's a great young coach — he's had a great prior success and I'm very impressed with him. He earned my respect quickly and I really like what he's doing with the team off the field as much as he's doing with them on it," Elmore said. "I think he has the best interest of the kids at heart. We'll see how everything translate in terms of wins and losses, but I believe coach Moore will be very successful at Jasper High School."

"Coach Moore leaves no stone unturned — sharp as a razor, great personality and comes to us with a stellar resume," Wilson said. "Where he came from previously at Eufala, they're No. 9 in Class 6A in the preseason polls — it shows what he's capable of building. All around, it's very promising for everyone who loves and supports Jasper football."

This season, there will be a third member of the broadcast team joining Elmore and Wilson — Daily Mountain Eagle publisher James Phillips, who will handle sideline broadcasting duties as part of a new collaborative effort between WJLX and the Eagle.

 “It’s an honor for me to serve on the same broadcast team as two local legend like Johnny and Woody. Those guys have more knowledge of Jasper football than just about anyone I know,” Phillips said. “The broadcasts should be a lot of fun, and it’s my hope that the sideline reporting will be a way to take listeners out on the field for pivotal moments in the game.”