Scottie Cline – Carl Fussell – Katie Legge – Cliff Williamson
Scottie Cline, a 1988 graduate of Portland High School, was a three-sport standout for the Panthers, lettered in all three sports during his three years in high school.
Scottie was an all-state selection in football. As a senior, he quarterbacked the Purple to a 9-1 record and a first round playoff game. He was named first team all-midstate, all-county, and was a 1987 all-district member. He was also named to the all-decade team for the 1980’s.
Scottie was a member of the 1986 District 10-AA Championship basketball team that finished 20-11 with a regional semi-final appearance.
As a member of the PHS baseball team, Scottie was a two-time All-county and all-district team member as well as being named to the 1987 all-state baseball team. During his 1987 campaign, he led Sumner county in homeruns (9), batting average (446) and RBI’s (36).
After leaving PHS, Scottie went to Maryville were he lettered all four years in baseball, team MVP in 1990 and 1992, was a member of the All- South Region team in 1990 and 1992 and was named to the NCAA Division III All-American team in 1990. He finished the 1990 campaign with a .463 batting average which was 8th in the nation and second all time for a single season at Maryville. Scottie was inducted into the Maryville College Wall of Fame in 2015.
Scottie has officiated baseball in the Southeastern Conference for 14 years, which included 4 SEC tournaments, 13 NCAA regionals, 5 NCAA super regionals and was an umpire at the 2016 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Coach Carl Fussell started his career at Hendersonville Junior High in 1957. He came to Portland in 1962 and spent one year at Portland Junior High before coming to Portland High School in 1963 where he continued his coaching career at PHS until 1980. He coached the Lady Panthers for sixteen years.
During his tenure at the helm of the Lady Panthers, he finished second in district tournament play in 1965, 1969, 1970 and 1973. Coach Fussell’s Lady Panthers advanced to regional play in 1965, the first time PHS had played in a regional tournament in thirty-one years, and then again in 1973. The 1970 team was named “Cumberland Valley Conference Champs” under Coach Fussell’s guidance, and he was recognized for his 200th win during the 1975-1976 season.
The 1969-1970 squad won 24 out of 27 games. One special memory from that team was during the game on February 25, 1970, when Coach Fussell’s Lady Panthers’ defense held Ashland City’s Pat Head to a 12-point game. PHS won that game by a landslide of 64-38, and 2016 Portland High School Hall of Fame Inductee Sandra Smallwood scored 19 points in that victory. The 1972-1973 team posted a record of 20-13 and is recorded as the first Portland High School team to advance to the sub-state.
Coach Fussell finished his coaching career with a record of 235 wins.
In 1985, he petitioned the TSSAA to incorporate middle schools under their control, and in 1986, the first Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association committee was formed where Coach Fussell was a member of the initial group. Today 380 schools are members of the state association.
During his retirement years, Coach Fussell organized an elementary basketball team called the “Dream Team”. Many of those girls have gone on to play basketball at the high school level.
Katie Legge is a 2011 graduate of Portland High School and a 2015 graduate of Cumberland University. She was named the Tennessee Girls Junior Amateur Champion in 2006. She played golf for PHS from 2007-2010, lettering all 4 years. She won the district each year, finished regional runner-up three years and won the region her senior year. Katie advanced to state tournament play each of her high school years finishing overall 17th, 13th, 10th and 9th her senior year. She was the Tennessean Schooldays tournament runner-up in 2009 and won the tournament in 2010.
Katie continued her golfing career at Cumberland University on scholarship and played all four years while attending there. During her freshman year, she was the team’s top scorer in five of the nine tournaments, named “Player of the Week” three times, and won the “Tran-South Conference Freshman Golfer of the Year” and “Player of the Year” honors. In 2012, Katie was again the Lady Dawgs top scorer in six of the nine tournaments and earned a spot in the nationals where she finished 33rd out of 143 golfers. She was only four shots out of the top 20. Katie finished her sophomore year by being named co-player of the Mid-South Conference and named to the NAIA scholar-athlete list. During her junior year, she was named to the second team All Mid-South conference, was “Mid-South Scholar-Athlete” and was named “DakTronics NAIA Women’s Scholar-Athlete.” She again was top scorer in five of her eight tournaments. During Katie’s senior year she had two 2nd place finishes as well as a 4th and 5th place finish while helping her team win two tournament championships. Katie was also named to the Dean’s List all four years while a student at Cumberland University.
A fifteen-year-old Cliff Williamson moved with his family to Tennessee from Georgia in 1964. Cliff’s dad, Slim Williamson, was a radio man who found success when he crossed into the music business with a family-owned independent record label – CHART RECORDS. That was important because it put into motion Cliff’s journey to Portland. In the meantime, he too would become a music man, first producing records for CHART and as creative director for Tree Music Publishing, now Sony/ATV. Like father, like son – a teenage Cliff was also a DJ, doing stints at family owned radio stations in Georgia and at WKDA and WLAC in Nashville.
In 1974 CHART records was sold, and the family moved back to Georgia with Cliff remaining in Nashville’s music business. Then in the late 70’s, Slim came back to Tennessee for a brief time and started a new record label which would launch the career of Portland’s Ronnie McDowell. Upon the death of Elvis, Ronnie wrote a tribute song titled, THE KING IS GONE, which Slim asked Cliff to help him record. Cliff helped record it and introduced Ronnie to Buddy Killen, owner of Tree Music, which was an important event in Ronnie’s music career and getting Cliff closer to Portland. As a family friend, McDowell encouraged Slim to build a radio station in Portland. With businessman Fred White’s help, the Williamson’s made the radio station a reality in 1980.
At the age of thirty, Cliff says that he was disenchanted with the music business; he was missing radio and wanted to help his dad and brother build the radio station in Portland which was named WMRL in honor of his mother, Merle. Using the radio name of Cliff Bradley, he teamed up with Dale Wix to cover Panther football on the new radio station. Cliff recalls, “Economic times were especially tough back then. We were all broke. Many of Portland’s merchants were struggling, and yet the support for the station was incredible! In those tough times we all rallied around our football team with more passion than ever.” Cliff married PHS graduate Cindy Vanatta who worked with the Portland Leader at the time and joined Cliff, his brother Marty, and old music business friend, Carrol Brown, among others to operate WMRL. Portland had a radio station, and the Panthers had radio as a new rallying point.
“Football Friday” was huge for the hometown station. Williamson put together a live broadcast from Jane and Jaybo Clements’ PANTHER DEN. A crowd of Panther supporters would gather every Friday when Cliff would lead the chant and talk “Panthers” before everyone headed across the street to Memorial Field for the game or load into cars to head to an away game.
Coaches came and went, the Panther Den closed, the Williamsons sold the radio station, the call letters were changed to WQKR, and Williamson moved from the radio end of the press box to the middle seat as the public address announcer. However, one thing hasn’t changed. For as long as most of us can remember, the voice heard on most football Friday nights has been that of Cliff Williamson. We have not managed to determine the exact date, but he has been the supporting voice of the Panthers at Memorial Field and now Edgar Johnson Stadium for nearly 30 years. Professionally, he’s worked for the group ALABAMA, followed by 25 years with REBA, and today he continues as chief operating officer for Starstruck Entertainment whose management clients include Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton. He insisted that I end by saying as loudly as I can,