Jimmy Barber – Diane Barber Miller – Edgar Johnson – Jason Rogan – Meg Thornton Hibdon
Jimmy Barber graduated from Portland High School in 1967. He was named Most Valuable Lineman in the 1966 Jaycee Bowl as well as being voted Most Valuable Lineman by his teammates. He was also a member of the Beta Club and received the Social Studies Departmental Award his Senior Year. He received a full scholarship to Western Kentucky University and graduated from there in 1972. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University in 1977 being 1 of 14 students selected from the state of Tennessee.
While at WKU, Jimmy earned honors on the field and in the classroom. He was a 3-year WKU letter winner, 1969-1971. During his Sophomore season, he was a starting linebacker who led the defense by taking over the defensive signal-calling duties and continued with that responsibility through his Senior season. His Junior season, he led the defense with 130 tackles, 75 unassisted, named to the Ohio Valley Conference 1st team and was a College Sports Information Directors Academic All-American 2nd team selection as well as receiving All-American honors for his efforts on the field. His Senior season he was again named to the Ohio Valley Conference 1st team, College Sports Information Directors Academic All-American 1st team, ranked second in team tackles, even after a late start because of a knee injury, with 47 unassisted tackles, and a team high of 51 assisted tackles. He again received All-American honors as a Senior. Over the course of his career, he had 342 total tackles with 196 of those unassisted. He was the first WKU student-athlete to earn Academic All-American honors. He was a WKU honor graduate with a major in Agriculture and a minor in Military Science. He was a 1972 NCAA post graduate scholarship winner and received the Almond Award for the player with the highest academic standing.
Jimmy was a member of the Army ROTC while at WKU but transferred to the Air Force where he was a veterinarian and an environmental health
officer for 20 years. His favorite job while in the Air Force was football coach. He coached base teams while stationed in England. The Lakinheath Eagles were UK champions for 3 years and the final year were US Air Force All Europe Champions. In Germany, he coached defense for the Wiesbaden High School football team and they won the Department of Defense European championship.
Jimmy was inducted into the WKU Hall of Fame in 2000. Almost 50 years after he graduated, he still ranks in the Top 10 of Western’s all-time leaders in both total tackles and unassisted tackles. His image in on the mural in Diddle Arena on the Western Kentucky campus.
Diane Barber Miller
Diane Barber-Miller graduated from Portland High School in 1970. She was a member of the Lady Panther Basketball teams from 1967-1970. She was named to the All-District team and All Mid-State team each of her high school seasons. As a starting Sophomore, she scored 32 points in the first game of her high school career. She finished that season with 562 points, 2nd in school history behind Betty Wiseman. She became the best free throw shooter in school history that season, hitting 73%. She was the district tournament’s top scorer with 100 points in 4 games. Her Junior year, her team posted a 23-7 record to become the winningest team in PHS history. She continued as the best free throw shooter by improving to 82%, breaking her former record. Her Senior year was a year of records as well, team record of 24-3, individually she held the best free-throw percentage, 75%, most consecutive free throws, 12, most consecutive games started in a career, 83, she averaged 20 points per game and she ended her high school career with 1447 points, 2nd in school history to Betty Wiseman.
In the classroom, Diane excelled as well. Each year of her high school career, she held the team’s Highest Academic Average as well as being a member of the Beta Club. She was the Sophomore class President, Student Council Representative her Junior and Senior years, attended Girl’s State her Junior year and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Diane attended UT Knoxville from 1970-1973. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a double major in mathematics and physical sciences, completing her degree in 2 years and 9 months. She was a member of the women’s basketball team, playing under coach Margaret Hudson. During the transition period in women’s basketball, from 6 on 6 half-court play to 5 on 5 half-court play, Diane played the “rover” position.
Diane received her Master’s degree in Mathematical Science in 1977 from Memphis State University, her Ed.S from Arkansas State University in 1981 and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1986. She has taught mathematics and mathematics education courses at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels for 42 years at 2 high schools and 6 universities. She has published over 50 articles in academic journals, presented professional papers in 10 different countries, served as a Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, received outstanding teacher recognition at Louisiana State University, served as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Executive Vice President and Provost for Middle Tennessee State University, and has received $3.5 million dollars in funding for academic projects from the US Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.
She and her husband, Jim, fund 2 scholarships. One for a PHS Senior basketball player who is an outstanding student-athlete, and one for an MTSU student who has a strong GPA and commits to teaching mathematics after graduation.
Diane retired from education in 2015 and was conferred the status of Faculty Emeritus by Middle Tennessee State University.
Coach Edgar “Heavy” Johnson came to Portland in 1956 and spent 19 seasons guiding the Panthers on the gridiron. Coach graduated from Jackson County High School in 1942 where he played football and basketball. He served our country during WWII where he also played football for the Armed Services in Vienna, Austria from the end of WWII until his discharge. Upon his return, he attended Tennessee Tech University on a full scholarship to play football, where he was a 4-year starter. He graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1949.
Coach Johnson started his coaching career at his high school alma mater. He coached football and basketball at Jackson County from 1950-1956. He accepted a teaching and coaching job at Portland High School in 1956. During his 19 years at PHS, Coach Johnson coached the Purple and White to five bowl games, with a record of 3-1-1. The Panthers won the Blanket Bowl in 1960, Industrial Bowl in 1961 and the Jaycee Bowl in 1966 and in 1971, the Panthers won the Mid-State Bowl, all under Coach Johnson’s leadership.
In 1975, Govenor Ray Blanton named May 31, 1975, Coach Edgar Johnson Day and Coach was presented with a new Ford truck!
During Coach Johnson’s tenure, the Panthers defeated Gallatin seven consecutive years. Other notable victories under Coach’s leadership were Murfreesboro, Hendersonville, Springfield and Hartsville. In September 2008, Portland High School named the stadium Edgar Johnson Stadium, in his honor.
In Coach’s later years, he made wooden helmets with the Block P on the side and presented them to senior football players at the annual banquet.
Coach Johnson was not only a football coach, but he was an example to teachers and students alike. As one former student recalls, during the time of integration, Coach Johnson worked very hard to make the African-American students feel a part of Portland High School. He taught life skills and introduced activities that students could use for the remainder of their lives. He was a man of influence and used that influence to affect the lives of his students as well as his football players.
Coach Johnson passed away in 2012.
Jason is 1999 graduate of Portland High School where he played basketball and ran track for the Panthers.
During his 4-year basketball career at PHS, Jason was a 2000-point scorer, 2nd leading scorer in Portland basketball history. He was named the District 10-AA Player of the year, District 10-AA Tournament MVP, Mid-State Player of the Year and named to the First-team All-State.
Jason also competed in track during his years at PHS. During his Junior year, he was runner-up in the triple jump. His Senior year, Jason was the State High Jump Champion as well as finishing runner-up a second time in the triple jump at the TSSAA State Track meet.
After high school, Jason played college basketball at Northwest Mississippi Junior College. While playing at Northwest, he was named to the All-Southern Conference team both his Freshman and Sophomore years as well as being named to the All-Southern Conference tournament team his Sophomore year. Jason was named to the Junior College All-American 3rd team his freshman year and he was named an All-American First team National Junior College Athletic Association member his Sophomore year. Jason finished his college basketball career at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Jason played professionally in the Netherlands for 2 seasons.
Jason continues his love of basketball by providing The Next Level Basketball Academy to youth. This program teaches fundamentals of basketball, develop confidence and helps young people acquire basketball IQ.
Meg Thornton Hibdon
Meg graduated from Portland High School in 1998. She was a three-sport athlete during high school playing volleyball, basketball and softball.
During her volleyball career at PHS, she was named All-District, All-District tournament and All-Region her Sophomore, Junior and Senior years. She was an integral member of the 1997 volleyball team that competed at the state tournament, finishing 3rd in the state. Meg was named the State Tournament MVP in Class AA in 1997. She was also the Gatorade Player of the Year High School Heisman Award winner her senior year. She held the record of most kills in a career from 1997-2011.
She was named to the All-District team in Basketball during her Junior and Senior years and her Junior softball season she was also named a member of the All-District team.
She received a full scholarship to Middle Tennessee State University to play volleyball. Her Sophomore season, she received recognition for having the team’s highest percentage in passing and serving.
Meg has been an important part of young volleyball player development and given back to the sport of volleyball by coaching. She coached in the Rob Lesemann volleyball league for 5 years, coached for Alliance Volleyball Club, Ethos Volleyball Club and is the current coach for Gallatin Middle School. Meg helped get the volleyball program at Portland West Middle School started where she coached for 4 years. While there her teams won 3 league championships and were runners-up another year. Her teams won 87% of their matches. Several of the girls
that competed on this year’s State Championship team played for Meg at an early age.
Currently Meg works as an HR manager and staff accountant for Goodall Homes. She is married to Donnie and they have 3 daughters, Allie, Gracie and Emmy.