DeLozier honored for decades of service

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 01:57 PM

Fred C. Atchley got it started.

It was the 1960s and Rex DeLozier was walking by the football field when Atchley hollered at him.

“He said, ‘What you doing?’” DeLozier said. “I said, ‘Not anything.’ He said, ‘Come over here and carry the chains.’ I said, ‘I ain’t never done it before.’

“He said, ‘Get your butt over here.’ ”

That was the beginning of a legendary career on the Sevier County sidelines that has only just ended in recent years. DeLozier, 79, and his family ran and organized the Smoky Bears chain crew through rain, snow and steamy temperatures over six different decades. It became a family affair, involving his son Buddy and his granddaughter Candace among others. Perhaps no man alive has a longer connection to Sevier County football than the former player.

“When I got to thinking about the years of service, how many Friday nights is that?” said Bears coach Steve Brewer. “Man, what service they’ve rendered.”

Brewer said he recalls being a player at Fulton in the 70s and coming to Sevierville when DeLozier was on the chains. It’s a tenure that binds generations of Sevier County players. Brewer said he thought it was important to recognize that, and DeLozier will be honored tonight during the Bears’ game with Morristown West.

It was a love of sports and the Bears that kept bringing DeLozier back, fall after fall. He attended as many sporting events as he could, not just football, at the school. He called the 1999 state championship a “once-in-a-lifetime” moment. He’s been in the thick of the action for decades and had to get out of the way of a few charging running backs.

“Even if you run and try to get out of there, they still get you sometimes,” he said. “Even if you’re back into the fence.”

The chain crew always has to work the visiting sideline, and Buddy said his father taught him to keep quiet and be respectful. The DeLoziers never wore Sevier County colors while working.

Brewer said he’s never heard a complaint from an officiating crew about the job the DeLoziers did. It’s a task that requires constant attention to everything on the field. The chains were something the coach never had to worry about.

“It’s kind of a new thing to be responsible for,” he said. “I hope we can locate a crew that will do this for the next several years. ... Nobody may notice (them) but now that they’re gone we see the hole that’s left to fill.”

Rex and the DeLoziers will be noticed tonight, thanked for a lifetime’s worth of contributions to Sevier County.

“You’re in the middle of the action,” Rex DeLozier said. “You watch both sides coming together. Watch them block, open up holes. I loved it.”