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RLS to honor 1st football team

This week is a big week for Red Level, not only because it’s homecoming for the current Tigers, but also for members of the school’s first football team.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the class of 1949, and members of that class were crucial in bringing football back to the town.

“They were the ones who got football started back after the Depression,” said principal Johnny Odom, who also said that members of that team would be recognized both at the homecoming assembly and at Friday night’s game.

Bonnie Brake, Lloyd Rodgers and Wheeler Foshee Jr. were particularly instrumental in the process, approaching principal Reese White and asking how to start a team.

White told the students that they would have to raise $2,500, and the class spearheaded the drive.

Many of the stores on Main Street in town, as well as parents and neighbors, donated items and goods such as calves, hogs, canned food, bushels of corn, and junk iron, which the students sold to help raise the money.

Other business owners, like Wheeler Foshee Sr. and Ben Adams, donated money to the cause.

Finally, the money was raised and a team was put together.

Dick Strolff was the head coach, but out of 22 players on the team, only two had ever seen a football game.

In the first contest of the year, Greenville topped the Tigers 86-0, and Andalusia won 36-0 in the second game, but Red Level finally got on board with wins against Florala and Dozier.

Despite a rough start, that first team got things rolling, and nine years later the Tigers won the 1957 state championship.

“It’s a great thing, and I’m honored to honor them,” Odom said.

That first football team will be honored at Friday morning’s homecoming assembly, and again at halftime Friday night.

“Sometimes kids need to know how things began — that it didn’t just materialize out of nowhere,” Odom said.