When the 1979 Bridgeport High School football season got started in the hot August sun on the field that now bears his name, Wayne Jamison knew he had the makings of a pretty special team. Talent was in multiple positions and the players had skill and, more importantly, were coachable.
There was, however, one thing Jamison didn’t have a positive feeling about heading into what would turn out to be one of the greatest seasons ever. The veteran coach didn’t have a good vibe about who was going to get the bulk of the carries at tailback.
Jamison, as it would turn out, didn’t have to look far to find his answer. Ironically, the coach who was always more worried about who would block at every position along the line for the runner as opposed to who ran the ball, found his tailback up front in Charlie Fest.
“We moved Charlie from the end position to tailback when we needed a tailback in 1979 and he just ran over people because he was big and strong. He was one of those hard-nosed football players that you loved to have,” Jamison said. “He was a rough and tumble kid. He played the game like everyone thinks the game should be played. He was rough.”
What makes Fest’s move to the backfield and his aggressive style of play even more unique are a few additional factors. First, Fest was far from the typical tailback. According to the program that year, he came in at 6’3 and 189 pounds.
“He was a big, long lanky runner,” an analyst with the 40 for 40 selection process said. “He wasn’t the slasher with the great moves, but he hit the hole extremely fast and when he got out in the open you couldn’t catch him. Plus, he was as tough a kid as they come.”
The analyst said his on-the-field toughness was a contradiction to who Fest appeared to be away from the field.
“I remember him as being a free spirit,” the analyst said. “To the best of my memory he was as easy going a kid as you could find, but when he put his helmet on he was nothing but business on both sides of the ball.”
Fest’s contributions weren’t just limited to the backfield. As a defensive end, his size and speed were too much for nearly every opponent the Indians faced during the Class AAA championship 1979 season. However, most BHS football followers’ memories are painted by Fest’s ability to not only run the ball, but run with the ball and people hanging on him as well.
“He’d have three or four players trying to bring him down and he’d just keep on running,” Jamison said. “Charlie also played defense and loved to play defense, but he could run with that ball. He was a good player on a team that had a whole lot of good players.”
Not only was Fest’s move from end to tailback his senior year unexpected, it came on the heels of Fest never running the ball at all his junior year. The move proved to complete an offensive hat trick of skill in the form of quarterback Bobby Marra and end Brad Minetree.
“Charlie was one of three guys on a great team that stood out. If Charlie would have went down that team would have been in trouble, particularly at his tailback spot because there wasn’t a lot of depth even though the backfield was good,” the analyst said.
Fest dotted the stick-I and Marra got things going at quarterback. In between were the talented upback Curt Burner and the hard-hitting fullback Rock Fliess. All of those players, along with a host of others, helped Bridgeport to a 13-0 season and a Class AAA championship.
Burkett and the rest of the defense didn’t allow a single team to score in double digits during the campaign. In fact, the club posted six shutouts in their 13 wins and yielded just 3.8 points per game.
Fest ended the year with Class AAA All State First Team honors as a defensive end. He was also named to the first teams on both offense and defense for the All-Harrison County, All-Big 10 and All-Monon Valley football squads.
Editor's Note: Charlie Fest forces a fumble in the Indian's 35-8 first round Class AAA playoff win against Lincoln as teammate and defensive tackle Jim Southern assists. Middle photo shows Fest holding on to the ball and absoring punishment in the Class AAA semifinal win against Parkersburg at a very muddy Hite Field in Clarksburg. Bottom photo shows Fest proving he can give as good as he receives as he delivers punishment to a Parkersburg player in the thrilling 7-6 win. The photos in this article are courtesy of the Bridgeport High School journalism department and teacher Mrs. Alice Rowe. Connect-Bridgeport would like to thank Mrs. Rowe for her cooperation in assisting with the 40 for 40 series and providing archives necessary to move the project forward.
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