The 1975 Millville High School football team that won the South Jersey Group IV championship was very close.
So much so that the players and coaches get together every Thanksgiving to reminisce.
Now, they will get together to mourn the loss of a teammate.
Former Thunderbolts standout Anthony “Bubba” Green died Friday at 61. He had been battling cancer.
“I went down to (Maryland) to visit with him a couple of weeks ago, and he was struggling,” former Millville coach Tony Surace said Sunday. “But not only was he a fighter, he also was very positive, right to the very end.”
Green, who played defensive line, teamed with running back Calvin Murray to help the Thunderbolts go 11-0 and win their first South Jersey championship in the fall of 1975. Both were 1976 Millville graduates who grew up in Woodbine.
Green went on to star at North Carolina State University, earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors as a senior, and was selected by the then-Baltimore Colts in the sixth round of the 1981 NFL draft. Murray, who played at Ohio State University, was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round.
Green, 6-foot-4 and 279 pounds, enjoyed a promising rookie season, netting an interception and fumble recovery — sacks did not become an official NFL statistic until 1982 — in 15 regular-season games, including 10 starts. However, Green suffered a career-ending knee injury late that season.
Green stayed in the Baltimore area, serving as an assistant coach at Morgan State University for 10 years and working in a mentoring program in Baltimore before retiring due to health issues.
“The bottom line is, good people always make an impact,” Jim McCormick, one of four co-captains on the 1975 team, told the Vineland Daily Journal. “You’re going to find you’re either a giver or taker, and Bubba was a giver. He loved sharing his stories, loved sharing experiences, and the whole thing is he wanted to make people better and he was a master craftsman at that.”
In 2006, Green suffered a family tragedy. Daughter Deanna Green, 14, was electrocuted while warming up during a church league softball game in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park. According to the Baltimore Sun, Deanna’s “foot was resting against a fence that was touching an underground cable when she reached for a second fence, completing a lethal electrical circuit.”
In 2013, the City of Baltimore reached a $200,000 settlement with the family.
While he remained in the Baltimore area after his football career was over, he always found time to return to Millville.
“Bubba would always come back and talk to the football team,” Surace said. “He was friendly with all the players and all the coaches. He was what you would call a true Thunderbolt. He was orange and blue through and through.”