Mackey was the first inductee of the evening. The former quarterback led Sand Rock to a 15-0 season in 1985 and captured the Class 1A football state championship.
As a senior, Mackey passed for over 1,400 yards and ran for over 500 during the Wildcats championship run. His efforts earned him the Alabama Sportswriters Association Class 1A Player of the Year. He was also named to the Super 12 and All-State teams.
Against Repton in the Class 1A title game, Mackey completed 7 of 13 passes for 111 yards. He also scored the Wildcats’ final touchdown – a 1-yard run – that gave Sand Rock a 14-6 victory.
Mackey's presenter was Sand Rock football coach Russell Jacoway. Jacoway shared an emotional story about his former quarterback.
"There was something special about Lance. He had that 'it' factor," Jacoway said. "About midway through the (1983) season, we were at North Sand Mountain. That was a game we had a chance to win. We didn't. We didn't play well. We got beat pretty bad. Everybody walks out of the dressing room but him.
"I start walking out and say 'Let's go Lance,' and he said 'Coach, me and you need to talk.' He said 'Coach, I don't think I'm the guy to lead this team.' I looked at him and said 'Lance, you're the man. You're going to do great things. It's going to happen.' He said 'Coach, I'll play guard or wherever you need me.' That was the kind of guy he was. He said 'I'm not sure I'm the guy you want at quarterback.' I said 'Lance, you're it. You're our guy. We're going to be OK.' He was that big of a team guy. He was willing to go be an offensive lineman the next week if I told him so. He was willing to do whatever he needed to do in order for us to win.
"Little did he know at that time, we would turn it around. The next year we would go 8-3 and make the second round of the state playoffs. We lost a close game to the eventual state champion (Valley Head). The next year, with Lance at quarterback, we would go 15-0, win the state championship, and Lance Mackey would be named the state MVP."
During his acceptance speech, Mackey said that talk did a lot for his confidence.
"There were times where I didn't believe in myself," he said. "When you lose 18 games in a row, you doubt yourself, but I was willing to do what it took in order to win. If you've been without winning for two seasons, you want a taste of victory, no matter what it takes."
Mackey said he's honored to join the many greats in Cherokee County history.
"When you come in and look at those plaques, that's just humbling to look at the folks in the Hall of Fame and realize you're going to be in there with them," Mackey said. "That's such an elite group of athletes and people. I'm so honored to go in there with them."
The second inductee of the night was Rooks.
Following an exceptional football and basketball career at Hatcher High School, Rooks became the first black player to start in basketball at Cherokee County High School during the 1968-69 season.
Rooks, an all-state performer, helped guide the Warriors to a 29-1 record a Class 3A state runner-up finish his senior year. He was also a standout on the Warrior track team in 1969. He finished second in the state in the long jump (21’10 3/4”).
Following high school, Rooks went on to become a pioneer at St. Bernard College in Cullman. He was the first black basketball athlete to earn a scholarship with the school.
Rooks was presented into the Hall of Fame by his friend and teammate Johnny Wyatt.
"For me, the process of nominating Ronald started two years ago. While we were doing the research, it took me not only on a journey through his past, but my past as well," Wyatt said. "It really doesn't seem like over 40 years since we've called ourselves student athletes. We were young, and we played for the love of the game. We gave it everything we had, and for some of us, it took us places where we only dreamed about going: to college.
One story Wyatt shared was from his and Rooks' football days at Hatcher High School.
"Ronald was a wide receiver, and he was pretty good at it. One day at practice in 1966, "Ickey" (Rooks' nickname), for some reason, was practicing on defense. As he ran up to make the tackle, one of the linemen rolled over and broke his leg. I think I cried more that night more than he did. I knew somebody had to go and try explain this to his mother. This explanation had to be given to the same woman who told me I was responsible for her baby. Fortunately, Coach (Eugene) Weatherly had talked to her, but it took me a week to get up the nerve to go over there. That's when I knew Pauline really loved him. She didn't fuss. She gave me a look, but she didn't fuss, and she let her baby go play with me again.
"Coach Weatherly told me when we talked about that day years later that he cried on the way home himself because he realized that 20 points a game left on the stretcher that day and was going to be gone for the whole basketball season," Wyatt joked.
Rooks said he's grateful to receive his Hall of Fame honor.
"You're looking a person God has blessed tremendously," Rooks said. "I was just a little black boy from the Brown farm down in Slackland. I never thought a day like this would come. I loved playing ball, but never thought something like this was coming for me. I'm humbled the committee saw fit to put me in here with all these guys. It's really humbling to me."
Rooks accepted the honor on belhalf of former Hatcher High School athletes who came before him.
"I'd like to think I'm doubly honored because I went to both schools," Rooks said. "There were a lot of good athletes that played at Hatcher, and a lot of times when they were finished with school, Coach Weatherly would have them come back and we'd have scrimmage games against them. That made us better. Playing against great competition is only going to make you better."
Rooks said for years, the kids at Hatcher kept hearing they were going to become integrated with Cherokee County. That finally happened in 1968.
"We didn't know what to expect," Rooks said. "I'm pretty sure the white kids were the same way. They didn't know what to expect. We knew it was coming. When we got there, we just all looked at one another, but as I can remember, we really didn't have a lot of problems.
"We had a great team that won all those games. For some reason, we just gelled. We had to come together for one goal. We won game after game. I just wished we could have won the state championship.
"This was the way I felt about it. I was from Cherokee County, and I want to hold up Cherokee County. I want to show them when you come to Cherokee County, you're going to play somebody. You're not going to come in here and run over us. We wanted to hold up our city and our county and say we can play basketball and we can play football."
The final inductee of the night was Cedar Bluff's Harry Tucker.
Tucker was a standout end on the 1959 Tiger team that posted the school’s first 10-0 regular season, which earned The Birmingham News’ Class 1A, District 3 state championship.
That success on the football field carried over for the Tigers in basketball. Led by Tucker’s scoring presence, the basketball team finished the season at 22-4. They earned the Cherokee County Invitational and county tournament titles, along with the Choccolocco Conference championship on their way to the state tournament.
The 1959-60 Tigers became the first team from Cherokee County to advance to a state basketball tournament.
Presenting Tucker into the Hall of Fame was his sister, June Myer.
Myer shared many of Tucker's accolades with the crowd before presenting him to the audience.
"I feel very honored tonight to be part of this special occasion," Myer said. "I am very proud of Harry for receiving this honor."
Tucker thanked the Hall of Fame committee for the honor, an honor he said "I'll cherish the rest of my life."
Tucker also thanked his teammates and coach L.D. Bruce for their influences on his life.
"Coach Bruce was probably one of the best men I ever met, and he was also a great coach," Tucker said. "He made you want to play for him as hard as you could."
Tucker traced the Tigers' success back to his ninth-grade year playing junior basketball. He said that year directly led to the success the Tigers had as seniors.
"We marched through the county tournament, then we were invited to go play in the junior district tournament," Tucker said. "We accepted the invitation and went down to Anniston and played in the junior district. We won the district, then after that, they invited us to go to state. We took the invitation and went to Tarrant for the junior state tournament. We didn't fare too good. We won the first game fairly well. We played at nine o'clock at night, then had to turn around and play at nine o'clock in the morning. We lost that game, but saying that, led up to our senior year. It started with our football team. We went 10-0 and scored 400 points and gave up only 19."
One of Tucker's cherished football memories was a game against Gaston in 1959.
"We went down there to play them, and we couldn't afford to go on busses, so we went in cars," Tucker said. "We parked them at the front gate, and their players and cheerleaders were out there with them. We started unloading our uniforms and taking them in, and they started laughing and pointing at us. We had 21 players on our team, and they had about 50.
"We had a little team meeting warming up. I was one of the captains, and I said 'Guys, leave it all on the field tonight. If you every played your heart out, this is the game.' When the game was over, the scoreboard read Cedar Bluff 49, Gaston 0. That was the game I enjoyed the most."