Go to a Class of 1957 reunion, and Hill will do his best imitation of a David “Little Toe” Luttrell run. He’ll go on and on and on.
Hill always wondered, though, when someone’s hall of fame might give Luttrell his due.
“I was wondering for a long, long time why he hadn’t been nominated, or whatever the procedure is,” Hill said. “After seeing some of the people, I just assumed it was because he didn’t have the university experience that some of the other folks did.”
Justice has arrived for Luttrell. The former Jacksonville running back who dominated the area prep football scene in the mid-1950s will be inducted Saturday into the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame’s eighth class.
Luttrell will be inducted along with former Wellborn basketball coach John Adcock, Oxford High football coach Robert Herring, Saks football coach Jack Stewart, Anniston High standout Vaughn Stewart and Anniston athlete/coach Ernest Washington.
The ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Anniston City Meeting Center.
Luttrell also got it done in basketball, starting at guard on a Jacksonville team that won the Sixth District Tournament, then won two games in the state tournament before falling to eventual champion Woodland.
But football was his game, and he carried the ball as well as anyone ever has in Calhoun County.
He first practiced with Jacksonville’s varsity team as a sixth-grader and started four years at running back, rushing for more than 1,000 yards each year from 1954-57.
As a freshman, he broke a 50-yard touchdown run with two minutes to play to key Jacksonville’s 19-13 victory over rival Alexandria. He also scored three touchdowns and ran for 196 yards against Piedmont, and his 12 touchdowns that season won him second-team all-county recognition.
He led the county in scoring as a sophomore with 14 touchdowns, including five in a 33-0 victory over Cherokee County.
He was honorable-mention all-state as a junior and consensus all-state as a senior and finished his high school career with 322 points, then a county record.
But the numbers don’t give the whole picture.
“He was a very quiet, determined person, regardless of what he was doing,” said Hill, a retiree and former associate dean at Florida Atlantic University who resides in Boca Raton, Fla., and plans to attend Saturday’s banquet. “You wouldn’t notice him out there, other than he just ran like a wild man.
“When you gave him the ball – and I did that a lot of times, because we both started in the 10th grade – ‘Little Toe’, as he is affectionately called, was probably the best running back that I ever saw in high school.”
Hill said Luttrell had every attribute one could want in a running back. Along with “enough speed and movement,” his signature was dragging tacklers.
“He was a horse to bring down,” Hill said. “I hate to use that old slang term, a man among boys, but he was, and he wasn’t just a bull. He had some moves to make people miss tackles on him when they tried to get him.”
Luttrell got noticed early in his high school career. The little brother of ex-Jacksonville standout Jimmy “Big Toe” Luttrell, he was invited to a summer camp at an all-boys military school in Rome, Ga.
“I was probably invited to be his companion,” Hill said. “People knew as a ninth-grader that he was going to be a stud.”
The run against Alexandria helped David Luttrell get noticed.
Jacksonville had lots of underclassmen starting and came into the game a heavy underdog, and the Valley Cubs knew who to stop. Jacksonville rarely passed, so the key was to crowd the line of scrimmage and stop Luttrell.
“Each yard gained, it was rough,” David Luttrell said. “The touchdown was the only long run. Every play was tough.
“Of course, if you play Alexandria, you know what I mean.”
Jacksonville saw a lot of that tactic during David Luttrell’s time in the backfield. He still broke lots of long runs like the 93-yarder against B.B. Comer during his sophomore year.
He showed enough to earn a scholarship to Auburn, but that’s where his football career stalled. He started at fullback for Auburn’s freshman but injured his knee.
He transferred to Jacksonville State then elected to go active duty in the U.S. Navy after a stint in the Reserves. He served on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.
He went to Gadsden State on the G.I. Bill then began a long career at Republic Steel, which later became LTV Steel. Upon his retirement, he worked for several years as a school bus driver and custodian in Cedar Bluff. He still works as a custodian for his church.
His selection to the county hall shows that, though gone from the football scene for decades, he’s far from forgotten.
“He deserves everything that comes out of that nomination and acceptance into the hall,” Hill said. “He was, in my opinion, probably the best back in those three years in Calhoun County and probably in most parts of the state.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.