The list of hardwood heroes is long for area fans, and two more names will be added to the list of those who have been enshrined in the Marshall County Athletic Hall of Fame Aug. 28.
Fields McGregor, who led Brewers to the final four of the 1944 state tournament, and Ed Jones, leading scorer on a Benton team that scored one of the Indians’ most memorable victories and then went on to star at the University of Tennessee-Martin, will join the hall’s lineup.
McGregor, who will be inducted posthumously, played on two outstanding Redmen teams.
“Fields’ junior year, they only lost two games,” said 1948 Brewers graduate Barney Thweatt, “both of them to Benton. And Benton only lost two games, both of them to Brewers.”
The two Marshall County rivals each had strong programs in the 1940s. McGregor is the sixth individual player from the Redmen to be inducted, along with Thweatt and the other four starters from the undefeated 1948 state champions.
“Fields was a great scorer,” said Thweatt. “His senior year, he was the leading vote-getter for the All-Purchase team.”
McGregor turned down a scholarship offer from Western Kentucky University coach Ed Diddle and instead joined the Army.
Jones said he does not recall seeing McGregor play. But before he became a starter on the Indians squad as a junior in 1954-55, he knew about him.
“I heard that name and heard stories about him,” Jones said. “I got to know him later in life.”
A dozen years after that 1944 Benton team’s run in the state tournament, Jones and his teammates on the 1955-56 team came close to a trip to state of their own.
They scored an overtime victory over previously undefeated and No. 1-ranked Heath in the semifinals of the First Region tournament.
However, they were upset by Mayfield in the championship.
Still, the ‘56 team marked a resurgence of the Benton program under coach Bill Farris.
In the late 1940s, the Indian program “had some lean years,” Jones said.
Farris came in, he said, and started a rebuilding process.
“My sophomore year, we were up and coming,” Jones said. “My junior year, we were even better.”
Then there was the ‘56 team.
After that, Jones went on to become an even better, more physically mature, harder-working player at UT-Martin, he said.
Despite expectations that he’d have to work his way into the starting lineup, Jones said, “I wanted to play and I worked hard and it paid off.”
He started the first game of his freshman season and scored 40 points on the Friday after Thanksgiving against Oakland City, Indiana.
He established seven school records and was honorable mention on the small college all-America list in 1961. He was named to the UT-Martin hall of fame in 1985.
Jones later returned to his high school alma mater as an assitant coach and served six years as head coach of the Indians until the school’s history ended in consolidation.
Jones later coached the junior high and middle school programs at North Marshall.
He still helps keep the scorebook for the Marshals teams.
“I played until I got too old to play,” he said. “Then I coached until I got too old to coach.”
Of his selection to the MC Hall, Jones said, “I feel very honored to be selected among a very good group, not only in athletics but in life itself.”