Where it all began

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2014

0919 spt-1974 team081

Members of the 1974 Straughn Tigers Football Team include: Benjie Kinsaul, Bobby Kinsaul, Mike Smith, Don Bass, Willie Jones, Shelton Biggs, Steve Mahaffey, Anthony Baxter, Ronnie Norris, Alan Bracewell, John Clark, Pat Norris, John Yant, Ferrel Staley, Egbert Freeney, Dwanis Merrill, Tim Grimes, Bob Hammett, Bobby Tillman, Mike Aplin, Randy Worley, Tommy Hutto, Donnie Sorrels, Johnny Mosley, Hilary Mathews, Tony Nall, Johnny Godwin, Douglas Worley, Vincent Staley Bonam, Frankie McVay, Mike Frost, David Creel, Ricky Godwin, Harold Staley, Larry Staley, Chris Piland, Joey Williams, Wayne Taylor, Bernie Bracewell, Roger Smith, Coach R.C. Poole, Coach Sonny Thomasson, Coach Jimmy King and Mr. John Stuart. | Courtesy photo

Straughn’s 1st football team to be recognized

Members of Straughn’s first football team in program history will be recognized at halftime of tomorrow night’s home game against Trinity Presbyterian at Tigers Stadium.

SHS began running a football team in 1974. During their inaugural year, the Tigers won four games in a nine-game schedule.

One member of the team, Pat Norris, who played as a cornerback, lineman and running back for the team, played during his senior year.

“There were only two of us who ever played football before out of 60 players,” Norris said. “We started out with 60, but ended up with 48-50.”

Norris said a lot of “learning” took place during that first year.

“We didn’t know a guard from a tackle,” he said. “It was a great learning experience for us to start with.”

The Tigers, who were in Class 1A in 1974, won their first game at Lowndes County.

Norris said that game was memorable because it was homecoming for LHS.

“We won and had to fight our way out,” he said. “It got a little rough down there.”

Another memory that Norris said stuck with him was when SHS played its first home game against New Brockton.

“We had no fence or anything,” he said. “It was an open field. The grass hadn’t started growing on it well. One of our goal posts was located at Clarke Trailers. It’s still the same goal post.”

R.C. Poole, who the current field house is named after, was the Tigers’ first head football coach.

Norris said Poole ran a tight ship.

“He was military,” Norris said about Poole. “We always joked around that if you stood behind him you had to have your helmet on or you’d get hit with his clipboard.”

One player who requested that his name not be printed, said he enjoyed the team boasted a “community” feel in that first year.

“The one thing that stands out was just the excitement of the guys being that it was the first year,” he said. “They worked hard and tried to learn the game. Of course, they all wanted to win. It was big for Straughn to have football back.”

Norris said the players didn’t have a weight room so Poole made them carry light poles that were laying in the field to get in shape.

“We had to pick them up and tote them,” he said. “We had six or seven of us on each pole.”

Other than Lowndes County, Straughn’s other wins were against Repton, New Brockton and Conecuh County in 1974, according to the Alabama Historical Football Society’s Website.

Before game time tomorrow night, members of the team will meet on the east side of the R.C. Poole Field House at 6.

Norris, an Andalusia native, said he always loved football and getting the chance to play it at SHS was something he wasn’t going to pass up.

“I’ve always loved it,” he said. “It was something else to do. Straughn used to be a basketball school. When football came it was something different. We wanted to do it.”