"We Are Marshall" Movie Has a Local Tie

By: Whitney Daniel
By: Whitney Daniel

Knoxville (WVLT) - The movie "We Are Marshall" hit theaters on Friday. In 1970, the team's plane crashed on the way home from East Carolina. There were no survivors. Powell Assistant Coach, Phil Wilks played for the Herd in 1966 and 1967, and was later a graduate assistant coach for the team lost that day. Despite a plane crash, their memories live on. They showed the nation how to win without winning.

Whitney Daniel has the story.

"The team at Marshall was everybody's team," Wilks said.

Even during a 29-game losing streak and expulsion from the MAC Conference.

"I think a lot of people thought Marshall had hit rock bottom. Little did they know the next fall it would be even worse than that," Wilks said.

Much worse.

It was November 14th, 1970. A day Huntington, college football, and Phil Wilks will never forget.

"I've never seen anything kick a whole community and a whole area in the stomach like that," Wilks said. "Everybody in the area was touched by somebody personally and probably more than one person."

Phil was driving home from dinner and heard reports on the radio. His Mom met him at the door.

"Tears running down her cheek and first thing she asked me was, 'Was Roger on that plane?'" Wilks said.

Roger Childers was Phil's best friend.

"We were always together," Wilks said.

A brain tumor took Roger off the team, but that didn't stop him from supporting The Herd.

"He was a manager that year just so he could be with the team, and his plans we're to be back from spring practice and play the next year," Wilks said.

For Roger and 74 others, next year never came. The next day never came.

And as Phil flips through an old media guide, he remembers his fallen friends, their faces, and their faith in football.

"I think the Marshall Football Program is really about that group of guys because they stayed," Wilks said.

Now they stay in the hearts of fans. Fans who've watched Marshall rise from the "ashes... to glory".


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