Proposed high school football teams

In 2016, 419 of 458 schools in the Georgia High School Association played football, including 91 of the 121 in Class A, the league’s smallest. That’s a far cry from 1960, when in Class C – then the GHSA’s tiniest – 33 of  the 135 schools hit the gridiron.

Everyone had to start somewhere.

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Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part III

Continued from Part II

The SGAA waited to rule on the 1929 Valdosta-Albany football game until after head coach Mike Herndon and Valdosta returned home. After playing Albany, the team went to Athens to watch the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, which was played in the brand new Sanford Stadium.

One of the points of Valdosta contention was the name of an official. The Wildcats expected one of the men to be Lake Russell, Mercer’s head coach (coaches as officials was extremely common). Valdosta claims the man on the field was even introduced as Lake Russell, but Russell assured Valdostans via telegram that he was not in Albany. There was an official surnamed Russell on the field that day, it being Glasgow Russell.

Continue reading “Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part III”

Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part II

1929-12-03 Valdosta Times (team)
The Valdosta High Wildcats of 1929, printed in the December 3, 1929 Valdosta Times. Head coach Mike Herndon is far left. To his immediate right is possibly city schools superintendent A.G. Cleveland. VHS is posed in front of its school building on Williams Street, which was its home from 1922-73. The building has since been destroyed by fire.

Continued from Part I

Valdosta was feeling quite confident heading into the 1929 football game with Albany.

Even before Moultrie was played, Valdosta’s local CRYING Out Loud column said it was in the bag.

“Albany will be disposed of next week,” said DeWitt Roberts’s column printed November 26, “unless some surprising upset occurs. That will leave the Cats the undisputed champion out of the conference, perhaps out of the entire South Georgia area.”

The column even said that Valdosta folks were looking into a game with Athens for what it called a state championship. The two had already had a so-called title game in 1920, which was won by the Wildcats.

Moultrie was duly conquered, 27-0, on Thanksgiving Day. It was on to Albany.

Continue reading “Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part II”

Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part I

For as long as there have been sports, there have been controversies over plays. From kids arguing over fouls in backyard games, to the 2017 Georgia High School Association state championships, there have been disputes.

Every team has one they can point out.

The “Holy Roller” and “Immaculate Conception” are two from National Football League history. Georgia and Florida argue over the number of wins in their football series. Peach County feels they were robbed of the Class AAA football title last year.

One of the biggest controversies on the high school gridiron during the first half of the 20th century occurred in 1929 when Valdosta High disputed an Albany High touchdown and walked off the field.

Valdosta’s 1929 season was more than a single play. It was a season of incidents that affected multiple games. Many of the individuals from both season and game ended as big names in their communities and the state.

This is an attempt to tell what happened.

Continue reading “Valdosta, Albany and the controversial 1929 football season, Part I”

A good area: Bonaire High, football and the rise of Warner Robins

Houston County is seemingly perpetually growing.

The United States census gives credence to that. Starting with the 1940 census, Houston County has grown in every count. The county had 110,765 people in 2000, a growth from 89,208 in 1990. In 2010, the number was 139,900. Currently, the figure is estimated at 152,122.

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Eugene Cook’s high school football segregation fit

Most basic American history books point to a handful of big cases involving the rights of African-Americans.

There’s the Dred Scott decision. Voting rights established in the Constitution and the couple of Supreme Court cases where you can actually remember both sides: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. (1954).

Plessy v. Ferguson is commonly attributed as being the court case that established “separate but equal.” The latter, the Brown case, is supposed to have ended segregation entirely.

Of course, history is not as plain as that or as easy to enforce.

Continue reading “Eugene Cook’s high school football segregation fit”

When losing is perhaps your only option

The football season was not a good one in Morgan in 1955.

Calhoun High, the home team in that locality – not to be confused with Calhoun High in the city of Calhoun – had played five football games through the first week of October. In those five weeks, the squad had been shut out three times and had scored a grand total of two touchdowns.

An October 14 game against equally winless Sylvester might have seemed potential salvation, but not for head coach Wright Wilkins.

Already a small school, injuries had decimated the squad and local interest in football was waning.

Wilkins thought the right thing to do would be to abandon the rest of the season, forfeiting where necessary.

But not so fast.

The Georgia High School Association apparently told Wilkins that Calhoun had to play or else forfeit the guarantees for the contracted games.

In the midst of trying to prove that Calhoun could stay afloat without consolidation, Wilkins had little choice. They had to press on.

“Thus,” said the Sylvester Local, “Morgan has decided to field the best team they have to finish out the schedule.”

In a final jab to Calhoun’s troubles, Wilkins believed it was necessary to move the game from Calhoun’s home field location of Leary to Sylvester. Without local support, Calhoun did not see a home game as being financially worth it.

Sylvester, which entered with a six-game losing streak dating back to 1954, thankfully put Calhoun out of its misery early, rolling to a 25-0 win.

Wilkins and Calhoun managed to finish out the 1955 campaign, though they scored only 20 more points.

Calhoun played a partial schedule in 1956 before giving up football. The high school consolidated with Edison in 1963 to form Calhoun County. No further football would be attempted until 1971.

Sources: Sylvester Local, Oct. 13, 1955; Georgia High School Football Historians Associaton.