Sweet success

Published 6:52 pm Thursday, October 9, 2008

In the 1970s, Andalusia had a football program full of players who didn’t know how to lose, and players who made friendships that last even to this day.

The 1973-78 Bulldogs are a team that can be found in the record books of Alabama high school football history. During that time span, Andalusia finished with a record of 60-1-1, including a 58-game winning streak at one point.

Circuit Judge Lex Short and Andalusia city attorney John Jones played for Andalusia between 1973-78 and recall the winning seasons with ease.

Short was the quarterback for the Bulldogs in the 1976 and 1977 seasons when they won the title.

Short said the reason why the team was so successful 30 years ago was due to coaching and conditioning.

“Coach Don Sharpe was a great coach,” Short said. “(Sharpe) had been in Montgomery and came back and took the head coaching job and instilled a lot of discipline and a lot of pride in the program. Actually, we got way ahead of people in the weight program. Back then, people worked out with weights, but it wasn’t something people concentrated on like they do now.”

For Jones, who was a defensive end and linebacker for the 1974-76 seasons, the fact that the team stuck together through everything and the influence of coaches contributed to the number of wins they had.

“I think it was the fact that we stuck together on everything we did,” Jones said. “We hung out together and we did things together whether it was in school or outside of school. Our coaching was incredible and I want to give credit to coach Richard Robertson. He was our junior high school coach and in my opinion, that’s where it all started because Coach Robertson put it in us that we were something special.”

For a team that won 58 straight regular season games in a row, the concept of losing never came up.

Short said that then, that is all they thought about — winning.

“We didn’t know any other way and it was a lot of fun,” Short said. “I had some great memories and it was a special time for all those guys’ lives. It’s something a lot of us talk about still.”

Another way that Jones described his time on the football team was that it was a one-of-a-kind experience.

“It was just a unique experience to be a part of those teams,” Jones said. “I know at the Athens game, we had people on the banks at the stadium. People from all over came to see our games.

“Then, we had so much pride about our selves, not just for our team,” he said. “We felt like we owed something to the players that played before us. If we lost, we would let the teams before us down. The older players, even though they graduated already, they were still a part of our team. We were determined to not let them down.”

In the 1977 state championship game against Walter Wellborn High School, the Bulldogs pulled out the win 7-0 and Short credits the win to the coaches.

“What I mainly remember about the game was in the week leading up to the game during film study,” Short said. “The coaches noticed something about their fullback. They had noticed how he had staggered his feet indicating which way he would go.

“So, basically in the first half of the game, the defense knew which way they were going, either right or left,” he said. “But, a great run and tackle ended up hurting the guy that had the stagger, so it became a little more difficult. We ended up holding on and winning 7-0.”

When the winning streak ended in 1978, the Bulldogs won the first seven games of the season with the only loss against Elba.

“We played our last game against Opp and won,” Short said. “But they got to go to the playoffs. We had 60 wins, one loss and one tie.”

The current Andalusia Bulldogs football team, which is 1-5 in the season so far after losing to Thomasville last week at home 21-6, is struggling to come back and win games.

Short said the problems the team is facing right now can be attributed to not enough player development.

“Of course they’re disappointed and they all want to win,” Short said. “Everybody else wants to win. I try to support them as best I can and always have. I attribute more of this year’s problems to last year’s coach. I say that because he obviously didn’t develop the guys enough that were going to become leaders on the team this year.

“You can’t take a year off in your preparation,” he said. “They had a good season last year and had a lot of good players on that team.”

Jones said the current players need to look deep and believe in themselves.

“Insofar as the current Bulldog team is concerned, I believe they will turn it around,” Jones said. “To do that, however, they must believe in themselves. I could recite some of the great Bulldog players of yesterday and tell you that, before they became stars, they had to first believe in themselves.

“The players must understand that they represent Andalusia High School, not the brick and mortar of the building, but the flesh and blood of all the players who have played before them and all the players who will play after them.”

Short is married to Susan Jones Short of Andalusia and they have three children, Sara Catherine, Alex and Ada.

Jones is married to Amy Jones of Andalusia and has they have a son, Trip.