Sports activities Legends: Linebacker Crapster performed soccer with ardour – Salisbury Submit
By Mike London
CHARLOTTE — Joe Crapster is 55 now, nonetheless wholesome, nonetheless in a single piece.
That looks like at the least a small miracle as a result of Crapster knocked the stuffing out of lots of people in his linebacking days at South Rowan Excessive and Catawba School. He survived lots of of violent gridiron collisions.
Crapster is now an government. He’s held positions of accelerating duty for Duke Energy/Duke Vitality for greater than 30 years. He was working for Duke Energy whereas he was nonetheless a Catawba scholar.
In his enjoying days, Crapster had that clean-cut, boy-next-door look. He regarded just like the man you needed to take your daughter to the promenade or mow your grass. That proved to be an efficient disguise for a punishing hit-man.
He performed soccer with hair on hearth, with what sportswriters of previous generations preferred to name “reckless abandon.” He was fearlessly aggressive in a feverish, seven-year assault on ballcarriers and quarterbacks. Crapster was liked by teammates and impressed them. He was revered —perhaps even feared — by opponents.
He was a 205-pound athlete at his heaviest at Catawba, however he attacked like a 245-pound sledgehammer.
“Soccer was simply one thing that I liked,” Crapster stated. “I used to be all the time that undersized linebacker, 5-foot-10, 175 kilos after I performed varsity as a sophomore for South Rowan, and perhaps 195 as a senior. However dimension isn’t as necessary as velocity in soccer. Even that 240-pound working again, in case you hit him exhausting sufficient and hit him with correct approach, he falls. Principally, you’ve gotta be quick and I attempted to be quick.”
In 1984, as a Catawba sophomore on a struggling workforce, Crapster would break the college file for tackles (at the moment) with 130.
His soccer profession really began later than you would possibly suppose, in junior excessive in China Grove.
“I didn’t play within the Little Leagues, the Grey-Y leagues, the Pop Warner leagues as a teen, so that they didn’t actually know me after I bought to China Grove, however the coaches there, guys like Steve Mabry and Raymond Daugherty, they noticed one thing in me,” Crapster stated. “I performed fullback and linebacker. I broke my arm as an eighth-grader, however I nonetheless liked every thing about soccer.”
As a sophomore within the fall of 1980, Crapster arrived at South Rowan Excessive at a fortuitous time. The Raiders, below head coach Reid Bradshaw, had been on the apex of their soccer glory days.
That they had posted 5 straight successful seasons, racking up convention titles in 1975, 1977 and 1978.
“At South, there was not solely a top-notch teaching workers, we had the benefit of the identical system that we’d already been enjoying for years,” Crapster stated.
Crapster earned a beginning place on the varsity as a sophomore, however the second sport the Raiders performed rocked his confidence a bit.
“We go to A.L. Brown — I’m certain it was our first street sport — and that was most likely probably the most gifted highschool workforce I ever performed in opposition to,” Crapster stated. “Ethan Horton, Terry Baxter, Lance Smith. You’re speaking about going from enjoying for China Grove to enjoying in opposition to the athletes A.L. Brown had in a single yr. Enormous leap.”
A.L. Brown was in 4A then and had a legendary workforce. South was good, however misplaced 35-0.
Crapster was relieved to search out out within the weeks that adopted that each varsity squad wasn’t as quick or as massive as A.L. Brown.
South gained eight straight after that lopsided loss to the Wonders and took the South Piedmont Convention championship. South fell within the playoffs to a Lexington workforce led by Joe McIntosh. The following fall, McIntosh can be ACC Rookie of the Yr for N.C. State.
“We had good defenses and actually good groups yearly I used to be at South,” Crapster stated. “However the perfect workforce was our 1981 workforce, my junior yr.”
In 1981, South went 10-2 (with a 10-game successful streak) and gained one other SPC championship. A.L. Brown had returned to 3A and the SPC and had a robust workforce, however the Raiders dealt with the Wonders, 20-8, in entrance of an enormous crowd.
“I might placed on a sport face and block out the group, even it was 10,000 folks,” Crapster stated. “I used to be lucky. I used to be born with that. I didn’t get nervous.”
South’s protection allowed 5.42 factors per sport in 1981, and it was even lower than that through the common season. Jeff Barringer, a defensive finish who went on to Duke, was Rowan County Defensive Participant of the Yr. Again Michael Ramseur, who was headed to Wake Forest, was the county’s prime rusher and Rowan County Offensive Participant of the Yr. Eleven Raiders, together with Crapster, had been on the 27-man all-county workforce. Crapster’s fellow all-county linebacker, Donny Spainhour was additionally the all-county kicker.
Crapster would comply with Spainhour because the kicker when he was a senior.
“I couldn’t kick from the facet, soccer-style, however there was a particular kicking shoe we might use to kick straight-on,” Crapster stated.
South wasn’t fairly as robust in 1982 and misplaced a Week 9 showdown with A.L. Brown that may decide the SPC title. Crapster did all that he might have. He made 18 tackles in opposition to the Wonders.
Crapster made 14 tackles in South’s last regular-season sport in opposition to Wadesboro’s Bowman Excessive. South might have tied for first place if Harmony upset A.L. Brown, however the Wonders beat the Spiders, 14-10.
South performed within the Division II playoffs that had been in place then for convention runner-up squads and misplaced to Lexington, 22-13. That might be the ultimate South sport for Bradshaw in addition to Crapster.
Crapster made the all-county workforce for the second time in 1982 and weighed his school choices. It regarded for some time as if he can be headed to Furman, however as a substitute his vacation spot turned out to be Catawba, the place Pete Stout, a legend as a highschool coach in Salisbury and Burlington (43 straight victories at Williams Excessive) had been named as the brand new head coach.
“I knew that with Coach Stout and a brand new workers everybody can be beginning out equal and everybody can be incomes their approach,” Crapster stated. “Wanting again, it was top-of-the-line selections I ever made. I bought the chance to play that I could not have gotten at a bigger college. And I liked going to highschool at Catawba. Not simply the soccer, I preferred the professors. I preferred the blokes who coached the opposite sports activities. Catawba was the right match for me. I wouldn’t commerce any of it.”
The Eighties had been an period when school groups nonetheless ran greater than they handed. Catawba employed a five-man defensive entrance, with a center guard, and simply two linebackers.
Crapster didn’t know if he’d get any enjoying time as a freshman, however accidents occur in soccer. Late within the 1983 season, linebacker Greg West, who had performed at Salisbury Excessive, went down with a knee damage.
Crapster was the man who stepped into the lineup for him. It was the final weekend of October, the homecoming sport at Shuford Stadium. Catawba hadn’t gained a sport all season and Georgia Southern, which had simply acquired a $2 million reward to construct a brand new stadium was on the brink of transfer up on this planet. Georgia Southern had a freshman quarterback, Tracy Ham, who would grow to be a university soccer legend, however on that afternoon Catawba’s protection, impressed by Crapster, gave a mighty effort. Catawba misplaced 10-3.
“I used to be fortunate to get a possibility and I knew I needed to seize that chance and present I might play, ” Crapster stated. “Tracy Ham was nice, however I had sport. Whether or not it’s soccer or life, whenever you get a possibility, it’s a must to benefit from it.”
Crapster tackled Ham on a whole lot of his 15 carries that day.
In 1985 and 1986, Ham would lead Georgia Southern to Division I-AA nationwide championships. He turned the primary school participant to run for 3,000 yards whereas throwing for five,000 yards. Ham was drafted by the NFL, however as a Black athlete. he knew it was unlikely he’d get an opportunity to play quarterback. He opted for Canada and was MVP of the CFL in 1989.
Catawba tied Guilford, 15-all, the following week, however the Indians went 0-9-1 that season.
In 1984, his sophomore season, Crapster was an everyday from the opening kickoff and the Indians began a comeback towards respectability with three victories.
That’s the yr Crapster broke the college sort out file with 130 and made the NAIA All-District 26 squad. He had an interception in opposition to Mars Hill and turned in an exceptional sport in opposition to favored Presbyterian in a 10-3 loss.
“Sophomore yr was after I performed nearly each snap on protection and by no means bought harm,” Crapster stated. “I used to be fortunate. That gave me an opportunity to make a whole lot of tackles.”
He wasn’t as lucky as a junior. A hamstring damage brought on him to overlook two video games utterly and restricted him in others. He nonetheless made 85 tackles.
As a senior, the accidents piled up. Shoulder points principally, and there’s nothing worse than a bum shoulder for a man whose forte was tackling folks.
“Probably the most difficult video games for me had been all the time in opposition to Carson-Newman,” Crapster stated. “You knew they had been coming at you with that split-back veer offense. They had been a machine. To me, they had been like a university model of A.L. Brown of their heyday. You knew they had been going to be good yearly.”
The excellent news was that by his senior yr, Catawba had moved as much as a 5-6 file and was was now not going O-fer within the South Atlantic Convention. From 1982-84, Catawba had been 0-21 in SAC video games.
One of many prouder moments of Crapster’s senior yr was showing on the duvet of this system for the Davidson sport. Catawba gained that one 51-28.
Crapster’s mom labored for Duke Energy. That gave him the chance to start out working and studying within the firm’s advertising program whereas he was nonetheless a university scholar. That proved to be one other alternative that he efficiently seized.
“I graduated from Catawba on a Sunday and went to work for Duke Energy that Monday,” Crapster stated. “And I’ve loved working for Duke simply as a lot as I did soccer.”
Crapster was assigned the No. 41 jersey at South Rowan. He grew to find it irresistible, however it wasn’t obtainable when he bought to Catawba. He did request to remain within the 40s, so he was completely satisfied once they handed him No. 49.
He takes some further enjoyment of that quantity now, as his two sons turned school college students at UNC Charlotte — the 49ers.
Crapster nonetheless follows all sports activities. Not surprisingly, he’s most fascinated by soccer. It’s additionally not shocking that his favourite to participant to observe was just lately retired Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly.
“He had a nostril for the soccer and was all the time across the soccer,” Crapster stated. “That’s how I attempted to play.”
Crapster has given fairly a bit again to Catawba. He served on Catawba’s board of administrators for years. He stepped down just lately, however he’s nonetheless a member of the Catawba Chiefs Membership.
It’s been 34 years since his last season at Catawba, however Crapster’s identify nonetheless comes up each time the South Rowan glory days are mentioned.
Nobody hit more durable. Nobody performed with extra ardour. Nobody performed with extra coronary heart.
“I believe I liked soccer a lot as a result of it’s the final word workforce sport,” Crapster stated. “I loved each minute of it, from my first sport proper as much as my final.”