Hall announces 2023 Induction Class
The Board of Directors for the Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to announce its 2023 Induction Class.
The new Hall of Fame class includes John Lewis Cash, a former Risley High football standout who went on to play professionally for the Denver Broncos; the late Kenny Dawson, a standout Brunswick High and Savannah State running back who was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks; Felicia (Lisa) Morris Harris, a standout Glynn Academy basketball player who also starred in the collegiate ranks at Bethune-Cookman; Earnest Palmer, a record-setting running back at Brunswick High; Tash Van Dora, the star quarterback for Glynn Academy’s 1964 state championship team who also played at Georgia Tech; and John Willis, the longtime head football coach for the Brunswick High Pirates.
The 2023 induction class was finalized earlier this week by the Hall of Fame board. It will be the eighth class inducted into the local sports hall of fame which currently includes 41 members.
The induction banquet for this latest class will likely be held sometime next spring or early summer. A date should be announced before the end of this year.
“Our Hall of Fame board is excited to announce this new class,” said Kevin Price, president of the Hall of Fame. “It’s another great group made up of very deserving honorees. I appreciate the time and effort our board put into this process to elect our next class which isn’t an easy thing to do. We look forward to celebrating the careers and accomplishments of our inductees with each one of them, their families and friends and our Glynn County community at our induction banquet next year.”
In alphabetical order, here’s a quick glance at each of the six inductees.
Cash was a three-sport athlete at Risley in the 1950s and went on to play football at Allen University where he was a standout defensive lineman and four-time letter-winner.
He signed with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL in 1960 before signing with the Denver Broncos of the AFL the following year. Cash started at defensive end for the Broncos for two seasons.
He later played for the Roanoke Buckskins of the Atlantic Coast Football League. The Buckskins were a farm team for the Washington Redskins.
Dawson was one of Brunswick High’s first great running backs. He was the first Pirates’ rusher to carry for more than 1,000 yards in a season when he ran for 1,016 yards as a junior in 1974. Dawson finished with just under 2,000 yards over his junior and senior seasons.
He went on to star at Savannah State where he rushed for more than 2,000 yards in three seasons and was a two-time all-conference selection. Dawson was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, but a shoulder injury ended his playing career prematurely.
Dawson passed away in 2018.
Harris ranks as one of Glynn County’s all-time standouts in basketball. Lisa Morris at the time, she was a prolific scorer for Glynn Academy during her prep career when she scored 2,511 points prior to the three-point line. Her career scoring total remains a county record.
She was a three-time All-County Team selection from 1982-84 and was the County Player of the Year as a junior and senior when she led the Lady Terrors to the Final Four in the state tournament.
Also a standout in softball and track, Harris went on to play basketball at Bethune-Cookman where she was a two-time all-conference performer and also a two-time All-American pick while earning all-conference academic scholar accolades all four years.
She turned down an opportunity to play professionally to begin her career with the Internal Revenue Service.
Palmer was also a great running back at Brunswick High. He was a key member of the Pirates’ 1999 team which finished 14-1 and played for the state championship his senior season.
That year, Palmer rushed for a school-record 2,180 yards. He is believed be the only running back in county history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. Palmer finished his high-school career with 4,409 rushing yards which is second all-time in the county record-books.
Palmer scored 58 touchdowns in his BHS career which ties him with former Glynn great Randy Fisher, already a Hall of Fame member, for the most in the county’s history.
Palmer played beyond high school at Holmes (Miss.) Community College for two years.
Van Dora was a dual-threat quarterback for Glynn Academy. He passed for over 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career while also rushing for more than 1,000 yards.
He was named All-State by both the Atlanta Journal and Associated Press his senior year, after passing for 831 yards and eight touchdowns and rushing for 628 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also named All-American by Coach and Athlete magazine.
Van Dora signed a scholarship to play for the legendary Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech after high school. He lettered his junior and senior years for the Yellow Jackets after being switched from quarterback to defensive back.
Willis was the longtime head football coach for the Brunswick High Pirates. Willis coached the Pirates for 22 seasons from 1980 through 2001, compiling a 138-103 record with the team.
He led the Pirates to four region titles including three in a row from 1997-1999. Brunswick won its first region championship under Willis in the 1989 season, toppling Glynn Academy and Bradwell Institute in the Region 3-AAAA playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Valdosta in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
In those three region title runs in the late 1990s, the Pirates posted a 36-4 won-loss record, going 10-2 and reaching the second round of the state playoffs in 1997 before finishing 12-1 and falling at Brookwood in the 1998 state quarterfinals before playing for the state championship in 1999, finishing 14-1 and losing only to Lowndes in the state title game in Valdosta.
Willis was named the Region 3-AAAA Coach of the Year after the 1999 campaign and also the Class AAAA Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Club. In all, Willis had 13 winning seasons with the Pirates and coached 16 all-state players including Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ray Lloyd who was the first all-state selection as a standout offensive lineman in Coach Willis’ second season with the BHS program.
Willis played football at Fort Valley State, where he was a three-time team MVP.
The Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame formed in 2011 as a non-profit organization and honored its first induction class the following year.
The Hall of Fame’s display which includes plaques for every inductee is located at Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick. The Hall also has a display which includes the names of all inductees by class and also a listing of all the state championship teams from Glynn County’s high schools inside the Athletics Center at Glynn County Stadium.