The football field at Lawnwood Stadium in Fort Pierce is named for Fort Pierce Central High School’s first head football coach, Calvin R. Triplett, who led
the Cobras to the state championship game in 1970 and to the state title in 1971. Seven of the players from those proud teams gathered at the field. From
left are Ron Argrett, Larry Lee Jr., John Martinelli, Mike Latimer, Harry Williams, John Cobb and David Sowerby.
Fort Pierce Central’s 1971 football team
were champions on and off the field
BY BERNIE WOODALL
While every team that plays a high school state
championship game has a good tale behind it,
few are as good as that of the football teams
of the Fort Pierce Central Fighting Cobras of
1970 and 1971.
Fort Pierce Central High School did not even exist in
1969, the last year of the separate but equal era when St.
Lucie County had two public high schools, the nearly
all-white Dan McCarty High School and all-Black Lincoln
The new Fighting Cobras football team of 1970 was not
alone. All over Florida, high school football teams became
mashups of players from single-race schools.
Some newly integrated teams fared well right away. No
team began better than Fort Pierce Central.
Less than four months after Fort Pierce Central High
School opened its 11-building campus on Edwards Road
to nearly 1,900 10th- to 12th-graders, the Cobras made it
all the way to the 1970 state championship game. Central
lost to Mami Edison, a school in its 76th year. The Cobras
would have fared better had they not fumbled seven times
in that game.
And the 1971 team did them one better, winning all 13
games and taking the biggest prize in Florida high school
sports: the football state championship.
“The importance of football to Fort Pierce Central and
Fort Pierce cannot be overlooked,” said Larry Lee Jr., a
linebacker on the 1971 team who is a successful businessman,
community leader and former Florida state representative.
“The Cobras helped unite not only a school but
a city at a time of racial unrest. We were a catalyst to bring
people together because everybody loves a winner.”
Recently, about two dozen Cobras from the 1970 and
1971 teams gathered at Lawnwood Stadium in Fort Pierce
to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the state championship,
which was won at the same stadium. Like the school, >>