Rattlers film-meister

By Thomas Garcia

Charlie Wilson has long been known as the man behind the camera at the
Rattler football games.

Wilson has been recording the games for the Tucumcari Rattlers football
program for the past 19 years. The films are used by the team to study and
find their and their opponents strengths and weaknesses.
Coach Dub Smith said, “We really appreciate what Charlie does for us. The
films of the games he provides us helps the team out a great deal. I know
the coaching staff and players all think highly of him and are thankful
for what he does.”

Wilson got his start nearly two decades ago, when his brother-in-law,
Kevin Grell took the head Rattlers coaching position and asked him to
record the games for him. Grell only coached for two years and when he
left Wilson thought he was done as well. The new coach asked Wilson to
stay on and the coaches that followed also requested that Wilson stay and
film the games.

“I enjoy watching the team play. And I’m proud to be part of the
Rattlers,” Wilson said.

And Wilson was a Rattler, for a while. He attended Tucumcari schools up
until ninth grade. Then he attended Clovis High School where he was a part
of the 1974 undefeated state football champion Wildcats. And he remembers
those years with affection.

“Many years after I was in Clovis, when my wife was having surgery, a
older gentleman wearing a Clovis Wildcats hat waved at me from across the
hallway. As he got closer I recognized him. It was my high school football
coach. It was a real joy to see him and felt great that he still
remembered me.”

Yet, he has a strong heritage and tradition with the Rattlers.
“My great uncle Billy Jack Turnbeaugh, played for the Rattlers then went
on to play for Auburn University in Alabama.

“He wrote a book entitled ‘Tucumcari High School Rattler Football Greats
Through the Decades, 1920-1990.’ When Billy sent me a list of the people
he was writing about, I felt there were some people who he didn’t have
listed and that needed to be mentioned. I wrote them down and sent them to
him. He was grateful for the help.”

With any job there are perks and drawbacks, Wilson said,
“Watching the team play at home and on the road is an obvious perk. But
when one of the players gets hurt, it is one of the bad things about this
job.

“I’ve watched these players grow up and know many of them and their
families very well. So when one of them gets hurt I keep filming, but I
can’t help but feel concerned for their well-being.”

Last year Wilson missed two games due to the death of his father.
“I was very touched by the show of support from the team and coaches for
my family and I during that difficult time. We will never forget it.”
By being a part of the Rattler Football program for such a long time
Wilson has had the chance to witness some of the great moments with the
Rattlers.

“I’d have to say my favorite memory would have to be winning state against
Santa Rosa in 2002. I am very proud to have been a part of that. I also
got a ring from the Rattlers that I cherish.”

Wilson has also been witness to controversial games.
“During the 2000 State Championship game against Eunice it was the last
play and we were ahead 7-6. The seconds were winding down on the clock and
Eunice was on the goal line and running out of time.

“Their backfield started to move and time expired and as I was recording
and looking on, I was screaming, ‘We won, we won!’

“But then a flag was thrown and the referee called Tucumcari for being
offsides. I was screaming, ‘They weren’t offsides. Come look at my tape,
they didn’t move.’

“But Eunice would be allowed to redo the play and kick a field goal to win
over Tucumcari. I was very upset and wished the official would have
watched my tape and made the right call.”

There have also been other kinds of close calls and even a rescue.
“Last year at the end of the home game against Santa Rosa, I was in the
press booth and right next to it one of C.J. Wiegel sons was taking down
the Rattler flags from atop the bleachers. He leaned the flagpole too far
out and touched the powerline and was shocked. I was sitting there and a
bright flash lit up the booth and sparks shot out from the metal wall and
I backed up. I heard someone fall down and ran around to see what I could
do and called for assistance. He would later recover. That was the closest
to being hurt I came to and it was close enough for me.”

Wilson has mixed feelings about this season.
“This may be my last year of recording the gam

es for the Rattlers,” Wilson

said. “My family may be moving to Arizona, so I will not be able to
record the games next season. So this year is going to be very emotional
for me.

“I have truly enjoyed recording the games for the Rattlers and it has been
a privilege and honor to have been a part of their team.”
After the interview Wilson got ready to go with the Rattlers to their game
in Estancia. Ready to do what he has done on Friday nights for nearly 20
years.