Battle Creek Central is one of the most storied programs in the state, having played football as far back as the 1890s. The Bearcats also enjoyed one of the longest runs of success in the city in the 1960s and have had players compete at the highest levels in college football and in the NFL.
But who is the G.O.A.T – The Greatest Of All Time in Battle Creek Central football history?
That’s for us to decide and for you to argue about this weekend.
Over the summer, the Enquirer asked for opinions from a panel of former players and coaches from each of the city schools to get nominations for our list of the Top 10 All-Time players for each of the football programs. Based on those comments, the Enquirer picked the 10 best football players in the history of the school and will rank them until we get to No. 1 – naming the Greatest Of All Time.
We have stated our case for why each of the players belongs on the list with a short bio and a general thought that is the consensus from the panel. Now that we have completed the top 10 list, it is then up to the Battle Creek area to vote for their No. 1 player and to find out if they agree.
Voting for the Battle Creek Central G.O.A.T – greatest football player of all time at the school, starts on www.battlecreekenquirer.com today.
Or, scroll down to the bottom of the story for our online poll
Throughout the last month, we have looked at a different city school each week so that now we have looked at the top players from each of the programs in Battle Creek.
The Top 10 All-Time Football Players at Battle Creek Central:
No. 1: Tony McGee – Class of 1967
The only Battle Creek player ever to play in a Super Bowl tops our list of the greatest of all time at Battle Creek Central with Tony McGee coming in at No. 1. McGee was a member of two Super Bowl teams with the Washington Redskins in the 1980s as a 6-foot-5, 250-pound pass-rushing defensive end. McGee played in the NFL for 14 seasons, by far the most successful professional athlete in Battle Creek. In high school, he was part of the glory days at Battle Creek Central, part of teams that won 33 games in a row in the 1960s, including the Bearcats’ mythical state championship team of 1966. Ironically, McGee failed to make All-State in high school, but went on to be an All-American at Bishop College in Texas and was picked in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Overall, he played for three NFL teams and Battle Creek held a Tony McGee Day in 1972 to honor him.
What the panel said, ‘One of the most successful professional athletes to come out of Battle Creek.’
No. 2: Larry Caper II – Class of 2009
Larry Caper II shattered nearly all the rushing records at Battle Creek Central, including those formerly held by his father Larry Caper Sr., also on this list of the Top 10 Players at Battle Creek Central. Those numbers made him the No. 12-ranked running back in the country when he left high school and a top prospect as he signed with Michigan State University. Caper II rushed for a career-record 4,242 yards as a Bearcat, including 1,732 his senior season. He also holds the record for yards in a game with 312 in a win over Kalamazoo Central. In his four years at BCC, the Bearcats went to the playoffs all four seasons and he was named All-State and earned a spot in the Michigan High School All-Star Game. Like his father, Caper II was an Enquirer Athlete of the Year. Caper II was a four-year player at Michigan State University, starting his freshman year and leading the team in yards and earning Academic All-Big Ten. Injuries slowed his college career from there, but he will be remembered for one of the most iconic touchdowns in Spartan history with a score in OT his freshman year in a win over rival Michigan. He later signed a free agent contract for a tryout with the Oakland Raiders.
What the panel said, ‘He carried the team on his back many times even though every team’s goal was to stop him.’
No. 3: Robbie Crockett – Class of 1997
Robbie Crockett was a key member of a Battle Creek Central team that brought back some success to the Bearcats program after several years of coming up short, leading BCC to the playoffs in 1996 for the first time in nearly 20 years. Crockett was a two-time All-State running back who was big and fast and dominated most games he played in, putting him near the top of many Bearcats rushing records. When he graduated, Crockett was the career rushing leader with 3,265 yards and set single season records in scoring and yards and also held the top mark for a single game with 274. Crockett was one of the top prospects in the Midwest and went on to play four years at the University of Iowa.
What the panel said, ‘He had a tremendous running style that allowed him to run over defenses and to run past them.’
No. 4: Tom Beard – Class of 1967
Along with his classmate Tony McGee in high school on a loaded Battle Creek Central team, Tom Beard is one of the few Bearcats to make it to the NFL. Beard eventually became a starter for the Buffalo Bills as the huge 6-foot-6 offensive lineman was a dominating presence due to his size in that era. Beard was named to three high school All-American teams despite fighting injuries during the Bearcats’ 1966 mythical state championship season. Beard went on to start at center at Michigan State University during an era when the Spartans were among the elite in college football. Beard played in the annual Senior Bowl following his senior year and the Blue-Gray Game.
What the panel said, ‘A dominant big man on some of BCC’s all-time best teams.’
No. 5: Brandon Randle – Class of 2016
A current member of a national-ranked freshmen recruiting class at Michigan State University, Randle just recently finished up a banner career at Battle Creek Central. Randle was a three-sport standout for the Bearcats and was named the Enquirer Athlete of the Year. In football, Randle was the No. 8-ranked player in the state on the Lansing State Journal Catch-22 list and was named to the Detroit Free Press Dream Team. Playing defensive end, Randle had 79 tackles for a division-championship Bearcats team his senior year, including 10 tackles for loss and fumble recoveries, running two back for scores. Randle was a four-star prospect coming out of high school and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
What the panel said, ‘A great athlete just starting to reach his potential at Michigan State.’
No. 6: Larry Caper Sr. – Class of 1978
When he left Battle Creek Central, Larry Caper Sr. was the all-time leading rusher at the school and later held a similar ranking after his days were done at Western Michigan University. Caper Sr. simply knew how to get yards as he finished with 2,975 career yards for the Bearcats, a then-record at the school. As a senior, he had 1,124 yards, including 269 in a single game against Grand Rapids Creston, earning All-State honors. Caper Sr. was also Enquirer Athlete of the Year. While in Kalamazoo, Caper Sr. played for Broncos coach Jack Harbaugh and finished with 2,499 career yards to leave Western Michigan third on the all-time list. Along with son Larry Caper II, also on this list of the Top 10 players at BCC, the duo make up one of the most successful father/son football playing duos in the history of the city of Battle Creek.
What the panel said, ‘A great player, who put up big numbers for his era.’
No. 7: Anthony Rashad White – Class of 2007
At 6-foot-1, 325 pounds, Anthony Rashad White was one of the strongest players ever to play at Battle Creek Central. Beyond his football accomplishments, White held the state record in the dead lift at 650 pounds and could bench press 410 pounds in high school. White was on back-to-back playoff teams in high school at Battle Creek Central and then had an up-and-down college career before becoming a standout at Michigan State University. White first went to a prep school after his senior football campaign at BCC and then played at a junior college before joining the Spartans. While at MSU he was a member of a Big Ten title team, back-to-back 11-win seasons and three bowl squads. As a defensive tackle for MSU, he came up with one of the most memorable blocked field goals in recent Spartans history to finish a win over Georgia in the Outback Bowl. White signed a free agent contract out of college with the Pittsburgh Steelers and later the New England Patriots.
What the panel said, ‘An incredible athlete for his size with great, great power.’
No. 8: Calvin Fox – Class of 1966
During an era between 1965-68, Battle Creek Central went 33-1 and Calvin Fox helped kick off that success as the key player on the Bearcats’ 1965 undefeated squad. Fox helped BCC to its first undefeated and untied season since 1897 as the Bearcats finished No. 2 in the final high school football polls, missing being named as the state’s mythical state champion by just a couple of points in the voting. Fox was an All-State end and linebacker who went on to play and start at Michigan State University during an era when the Spartans were among the elite in college football. Fox was drafted by Houston in the NFL Draft in 1971.
What the panel said, ‘One of the key players in the early years of Battle Creek Central’s golden era.’
No. 9: Jordan Dickerson – Class of 2003
When he graduated, Jordan Dickerson held nearly every passing record at Battle Creek Central as he was the key player during a high-scoring and highly-successful offensive era for the Bearcats. Dickerson finished as the career record holder for passing yards, that included the single-season record of 1,350 as a senior as he added 223 yards rushing on the ground. Dickerson won more games at quarterback than any player in BCC history as he led the Bearcats to back-to-back undefeated regular seasons as BCC went 11-1, with a spot in third round in the playoffs, in 2001 – the deepest postseason run ever at the school. Dickerson went on to play in the Michigan All-Star Game and went to Grand Valley State University, where he was a member of a Division II National Champion team.
What the panel said, ‘Very athletic with a strong arm and was an excellent running and passing threat.’
No. 10: Randy Hawkins – Class of 1992
A standout on the football field and the classroom, Randy Hawkins was a two-way star for the Bearcats who turned that success into roster spot at the college level by playing for Army. Hawkins was a two-time All-State performer who was a hard-hitting linebacker and hard-charging fullback. In his junior season, Hawkins helped BCC finish the season 8-1 and No. 3 in the state as he averaged 15.8 tackles a game. His senior year, he earned a spot on the Detroit News All-State Dream Team at linebacker. As a fullback, Hawkins had 206 yards in a game against St. Joseph. Hawkins went on to play four years for Army and has been a career military man after finishing his college football playing days.
What the panel said, “A great football player, who was intense and played big against the best opponents.’
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick
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