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INTO THE HALL OF FAME: Kendall Taylor honored for career on gridiron

Kendall Taylor has participated in more than 100 football games at Andalusia High School as a player and official, and on Aug. 19 he will be inducted into the 2017 AHS Football Hall of Fame.

“I’m just proud that I got in,” Taylor said. “I was on my way to the Indianapolis 500 when they called me and I let me know. I’m excited and just proud to be a part of it.”

During his varsity career, Taylor played in all 30 games and was a three-year letterman for the Bulldogs before graduating in 1970.

It all started his sophomore season when he was one of just four sophomores to earn a letter that season.

“That year, there was just a small group of us that just loved to play,” Taylor said. “I got to play a lot that year, but looking back, I always felt like I could have done a better job. I looked up to the older players and I really learned a lot that season.”

In Taylor’s junior season, he became the full-time defensive back and would split carries at running back with Kyle Gantt. Gantt was 2012 inductee into the Andalusia High School Football Hall of Fame.

The running duo of Gantt and Taylor accumulated 1,120 yards during Taylor’s junior season.

“Football become more intense my junior year,” Taylor said. “I became full time on defense and I split time at running back with Kyle Gantt. We had a really good system that year. There was no telling which one of might have a big night. One week I would rush for 100 yards and he would rush for 30, and then the next week it would be the other way around.”

In his senior season, Taylor took over many roles for the varsity Bulldogs. He was the full-time tailback, full-time defensive back, kicked off, covered punts, returned kick offs and punts.

Taylor said that there were a couple of games that the never left the field.

For his efforts that season, Taylor’s teammates voted him Most Valuable Player and Best Offensive Back.

Taylor was also a unanimous by coaches in the South Alabama Conference for the All-Conference team. Since he was selected by all of the coaches in the conference, Taylor was named All-Conference captain.

“I didn’t spend much time off the field my senior season,” Taylor said. “There were a few plays that I got to take off. We didn’t have a lot of numbers. So, there were a lot of us that had to go both ways. That season was a lot of fun. Our senior class was very close. We would pick each other up and find a way to make it through.”                                

During his high school career, Taylor was on the first AHS basketball team to reach the state tournament in Tuscaloosa.

Taylor attended the University of Alabama as a student and returned to the game of football after graduation.

After graduation, Taylor began a 20-year career as football referee.

“It kind of just worked its way out,” Taylor said on becoming a referee. “I had just moved back from college and someone asked me if I would be interested in calling a pee wee game. I thought it would be fun so I gave it a shot. I had great time and then next week they asked me to call a junior varsity game.”

Taylor said his start came in the pee wee football league that used to be held at Johnson Park.

“When we started, we didn’t have any uniforms or anything,” Taylor said. “That next year, a few of us had gotten serious about it and we bought uniforms and went to the clinics and joined an association.”

His first season was at the pee wee and junior high level, but he quickly moved up to varsity in his second season.

A few years later, Taylor made his way to head referee and later achieved the highest rank of “Certified” official.

“Finally, after several years we had a really good crew,” Taylor said. “They all called us the ‘Andalusia Crew’. We had a lot of years experience between us and it meant a lot to be the head referee.”

During his officiating career, Taylor worked more than 20 first, second and third round playoff games. He worked three semifinal games and served as the head referee for the 1991 Class 3A state championship game.

“That state championship is probably the most memorable game that I refereed,” Taylor said. “The best team I ever saw was Vigor. That was the year they started their back-to-back state championship run. They were an awesome team.”

He has been a long time member of the Bulldog Booster Club and served on the Hall of Fame selection committee for two years. As a player, press box volunteer and just a Bulldog fan, Taylor said he has attended at least one Bulldog varsity football game in each of the past 50 years.

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of this year’s Hall of Fame class,” Taylor said. “I’ve served on the committee and I know how difficult of a job that they have. I’m very thankful and appreciative to every one.”

The event will be held Sat., Aug. 19 in the AHS volleyball gymnasium at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $25 and may be purchased at Jones Veterinary Hospital, Southern Independent Bank, Jones and Jones Attorneys at Law and Jody Jackson.