Lachlan Pitts was one of the most electric deep threats in the country for the resurgent Tribe of William & Mary. Hines averaged nearly 20 yards per catch and had 543 yards and 7 touchdowns at tight end for the Tribe. For his efforts, Hines earned a spot in the Hula Bowl and is the Tribe’s first representative in the bowl. While Hines may be the first William & Mary player to play in the Hula Bowl, he is far from the first player to play in a Florida all-star game. Decades ago, William & Mary players were fixtures in Miami’s North-South Shrine Game.
For years, the North-South Shrine Game served as a Christmas Day appetizer for the Orange Bowl in Miami. In the game’s 26 years in Miami, William & Mary sent seven players to Miami. In 1949 and 1951, Halfback Ed Weber (1949) and Vito Ragazzo (1951) made the North-South Shrine Game for the Tribe.
While injuries hampered Weber’s career, he did average eight yards per carry in The Tribe’s single-wing scheme. Vito Ragazzo is one of William & Mary’s greatest receivers ever as his four touchdown catches in a game and 15 in 1949 have stood for over 70 years. In 1949, Ragazzo was a Second Team United Press International (UPI) All-American.
Two years later, fullback Bill Bowman earned an invite to the North-South Shrine Game after ranking 14th nationally in rushing with 722 yards. Bowman also added eight touchdowns on the ground. Bowman also earned Associated Press (AP) and UPI Honorable Mention All-American honors.
It would be over a decade until William & Mary fielded another North-South Shrine Game player as Guard Bob Soleau broke the drought in 1963. Soleau had a career for the ages earning AP and UPI Honorable Mention All-American Honors in 1962 and First-Team Honors for AP the next year. Soleau’s play was good enough to earn him Southern Conference Player of the Year honors in 1962, a rare honor for a lineman.
In 1965, another Southern Conference Player of the Year earned a spot in Miami as George Pearce capped his career in that year’s North-South Shrine Game. Pearce caught 61 passes for 795 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1965, staggering totals for the era. In addition to winning Southern Conference Player of the Year, Pearce was a Second Team AP All-American. Pearce’s 12 catches against Navy in 1965 are still the second-most by a William & Mary player in a game.
Seven years later, the Tribe sent another receiver to the North-South Shrine Game. as David Knight received an invitation. Knight caught 123 passes for 1995 yards and eight touchdowns, with his best years being his last two. In his Junior year, Knight caught 49 passes for 845 yards and followed that up with 44 catches for 721 yards in his Senior year. Knight was drafted by the Jets in the 11th round in the 1973 Draft and enjoyed a five-year NFL career that included 579 receiving yards in 1974.
In 1973, Joe Montgomery made the final appearance for a William & Mary player in the North-South Shrine Game as his invitation to Miami was the reward of a season with Third Team Football News and AP Honorable Mention All-American honors.
In the 2010s, a pair of Willliam & Mary standouts continued the Tribe's Sunshine State all-star tradition by playing in the East-West Shrine Game when it was held at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Park. Tre McBride received an invitation after a career with over 4000 all-purpose yards and 2600 receiving yards. McBride still holds the record for all-purpose yards in a game with 359 against Villanova in 2014. In 2018, 1st Team All-CAA Performer Connor Hilland also earned an East-West Shrine Game invite.
While Lachlan Pitts may be William & Mary’s first Hula Bowl player, his appearance on Saturday will awaken memories of the school’s rich history and tradition of national relevance. Pitts has etched his name among the Tribe’s all-time greats.
The William & Mary Football Record Book guided me throughout my research and you can check it out here.