CHARMCO – Greenbrier West football has enjoyed something most schools in the state cannot boast.
In 55 seasons of Cavalier football, only four men have guided Greenbrier West on the gridiron. Toby Harris took the reins in 1968 and immediately built the school into a winner. From 1968-1977, Harris nurtured the program from a consolidated startup to a Class AA state semi-finalist, accumulating 65 wins and 26 all-state selections. Howard Hylton took over in 1978 and built on Harris’ momentum. Hylton guided the ship for 24 seasons, including 10 playoff appearances, a Class AA state runner-up finish in 1991, and 168 victories. Lewis McClung took the baton from Hylton in 2002 and ran with it. McClung’s Cavaliers qualified for postseason play in 10 of his 15 seasons at the helm, reached the state semi-finals three times, and collected a Class A state runner-up finish in 2013. McClung notched 116 wins along the way. David Witt took over for two seasons in 2017, bridging the gap between McClung and the incredible return of Toby Harris in 2019. Harris’ second stint as Cavalier skipper was stellar. Harris tallied 35 more wins and qualified for the playoffs each season, reaching the state quarterfinals three times.
One man has been part of more of those Cavalier wins than any name mentioned. Kelly Vaughan. Vaughan starred as a quarterback and noseguard from 1981-83. His teams racked up 30 wins and qualified for the playoffs three straight years. Vaughan helped lead Greenbrier West to its first-ever playoff victory, a 26-0 win over Northfork. Vaughan collected Class AA Special Honorable Mention All-State honors in 1982 and was the First-team All-State defensive captain in 1983. Vaughan capped his high school career with a win in the 1984 North South Football Classic, throwing a game-winning, 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime to lead the South to a 14-13 win.
Vaughan’s talent landed him in Winston-Salem as a member of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in 1984. After a redshirt season, Vaughan lettered for the Deacs from 1985-88. After tying for the team lead in sacks in 1986, Vaughan earned the school’s Beattie Feathers Award in the 1987 spring game. The award honors the team’s most improved defensive player. Playing for the likes of Al Groh, Bill Dooley, and Bob Pruett, Vaughan honed his defensive skills and was part of a unit in 1987 that held opponents without a touchdown for 15 consecutive quarters to open the season. Vaughan led Wake Forest with 8 tackles for loss, collected 3 ½ sacks, and had two pass breakups in 1987. Street & Smith selected Vaughan as a defensive lineman on the All-Atlantic Coast team in 1988, and Vaughan won ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors on at least two occasions.
Vaughan returned to his alma mater in 1991 as the defensive coordinator under his former head coach Hylton. Vaughan’s unit held six teams scoreless including a string of five straight games. The Cavaliers reached the ‘91 Class AA State Championship and led 16-0 at halftime. Two scoop-and-score fumble recoveries doomed Greenbrier West’s chances in that contest, but Vaughan had proved his worth in leading the unit.
Vaughan would remain as the Greenbrier West defensive coordinator for the next 25 seasons. He provided stability in 2001 after Hylton retired and passed the torch to one of Vaughan’s high school teammates in McClung in the 2002 season. Along the way, Vaughan would help lead Greenbrier West back to a state championship appearance in 2013 before stepping down after the 2016 season. After a brief hiatus in 2017-18, Vaughan would resume his role under the leadership of Harris beginning with the 2019 season. All told, Vaughan has led the Cavalier defensive unit for 30 seasons, amassing 54 shutouts along the way. His 2022 squad set school records for consecutive shutouts to open the season with five, home shutouts with six, and total shutouts with eight. Of Greenbrier West’s 388 all-time wins, Vaughan has been a part of 253 of them either as a player or a coach.
Vaughan’s first game will usher in a new era of Cavalier football, at least from a facilities standpoint. Cavalier Field, a natural grass stadium from 1974 through 2022, is in the process of preparation for Field Turf to be installed. Greenbrier West opens the season at home on August 25 against Pendleton County. The turf work is something Vaughan will have to navigate around in his preparation for the 2023 season. Vaughan has been around long enough to have seen situations like this before. The stadium underwent renovation in 2012 with new seating which moved the team’s practices to Western Greenbrier Middle School. Vaughan has been working with Greenbrier West athletic director Jared Robertson on contingency plans given that the scheduled date for completion of the turf is the second week of August.
“We’ve looked at practicing at Western Greenbrier Middle as well as at The Greenbrier after the Cleveland Browns leave the facility. We have a lot of support and options and we’re thankful for that.”
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