By Carey Phillips
Steve Streater, a star athlete at Sylva-Webster High School in the 1970s, has been named one of the top 100 football players in the history of the University of North Carolina’s program.
The rankings are listed on the website InsideCarolina.com. The selections were made by Tar Heel football historian and broadcaster Lee Pace, who recently released his new book “Football in a Forest: The Life and Times of Kenan Memorial Stadium Vol. II.”
“Fiery and emotional leader of defense on Tar Heels’ last outright ACC championship squad; notched five interceptions in 1980; All-ACC at two positions; outstanding punter, leading ACC and nation with 43.4 average senior year,” Pace wrote about Streater on the website.
Streater played for UNC from 1977-80. As a senior he became the first football player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference to be named all-conference at two positions – defensive back and punter. UNC went 11-1 that year and won the ACC championship before defeating Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
He was part of the 1979 squad that downed Michigan in the Gator Bowl.
Streater was not selected in the 1980 National Football League Draft but signed as a free agent with Washington. On his way back from Washington, shortly after leaving the Raleigh-Durham Airport, Streater was injured in an automobile accident that left him paralyzed the rest of his life.
He died at age 50 in June 2009.
Streater was the 1977 National High School Baseball Player of the Year after leading Sylva-Webster to the state 3-A championship.
He set a national record for wins in a season as he was 23-1 that year while pitching all but one inning. In the state championship series against Wake Forest, he pitched a one-hitter in game one and a two-hitter the next day to clinch the crown.
He played one year of baseball for Carolina.
A member of Jackson County’s most famous athletic family, Streater and his brother, Jimmy, were among the charter members inducted into the Jackson County Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. Jimmy Streater went on to become an All-Southeastern Conference quarterback at Tennessee.
Younger brother Eric played wide receiver for UNC in the 1980s.
All three Streater brothers were part of state championship football teams at Sylva-Webster.