Decades-old rivalry remains ‘intense’

Published 12:01 am Friday, September 26, 2014

No matter when the Andalusia-Opp football game went down, former players say the rivalry was always “intense.”

The Bulldogs and Bobcats will meet for the 71st time tonight at AHS. Andalusia holds a 38-32-3 advantage.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Bobcats went 13-6-1 in a time when the competition was getting better and better for both.

“That junior year was really a tough game,” Johnny Jackson, the former Opp tackle said about the Bobcats’ 13-7 win in 1966. “There were good players on both sides of the ball. It was a hard fought football game.”

Jackson said the game was always one everybody looked forward to.

“The Opp-Andalusia rivalry has been really, really heated over the years,” he said. “Over the years for me it’s lost a bit of its fire, of course. I’m still sure it’s heated today.

“All in all, it’s kind of like Auburn and Alabama,” he said.

After a 14-14 tie in 1970, the Bulldogs went on a tear, winning the next nine games.

Lucky Cope, who played at AHS from 1971-73 as a fullback and linebacker, said Opp had a pretty decent team.

“Most of the time were were 9-0 or 8-1,” Cope said. “It was just an old-fashion knock out game.”

Back in those days, Cope said the rivalry was more intense that it is today, adding that now that Straughn’s in the mix for Andalusia and Opp.

“I think it’s a really good rivalry for the county,” Cope said. “It brings in such a good gate. High school athletics, like everything these days, are so under-funded. You can always depend on the gate. Home or away, a good crowd always travels.”

Games between the two were close during the early and mid 1980s. AHS won handedly in 1986-87, and came away with single-digit wins in 1988-89.

In the 1990s, Opp had the upper hand when it went on to win nine games before the new century dawned.

Former Opp quarterback and Jackson’s son, Jay, said both teams really wanted to beat each other.

“Back then, there were playoff implications,” Jay said. “We were in the same class and same region. For my senior year (the fall of 1996) the winner went to the playoffs and the loser went home.”

Opp won 28-6 in 1996.

As a kid, Jay remembered not missing a game when it came to the rivalry.

“I remember a lot of the Opp-Andalusia games growing up,” he said. “I remember us beating Andalusia around 1990-91. Aaron Hightower was the quarterback. That was a big game over in Opp.”

Since 2000, the Bobcats have won four times, including a playoff game in 2009 when Andalusia and Opp were in Class 4A, Region 2.