HONORING FORMER BULLDOGS: George Gantt named to Andalusia Hall of Fame
George Patton Gantt’s football career came to end following an injury after his senior season, but his standout career at Andalusia lead to him being inducted into the 2017 Andalusia High School Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s one of the grandest things that have ever happened in my life,” Gantt said. “I never thought it would happen.”
Gantt was a four-year starter at AHS from 1960-1963, where is played offensive tackle.
Teammates and opponents from Gantt’s playing days said that he was a “force to be reckoned with.”
“It was our job on the line to clear the path for the running back,” Gantt said. “I thought it was neat when I got into college and had these big college players coming up to me saying they remember me knocking the mess out of them in high school.”
In 1961, Gantt was named to the All-South Conference honorable mention list.
During his early his school career, Gantt had the chance to play with his older brother Caton.
“We got play on opposite ends of the line,” Gantt said. “I was a tackle and he was a blocking receiver. It was really special to get to share that time on the field with my brother.”
Gantt was named to the All-State team as an honorable mention by the Birmingham News in 1962.
In 1963, Gantt was named to the first-team All-South Alabama Conference and honorable mention for All-State.
Along with playing tackle, Gantt also served as the team’s field goal kicker.
“I was a barefoot kicker,” Gantt said. “I didn’t get to do that long, because after I had some success with it one year, it was banned the next season.”
Gantt said he became the kicker after messing around in practice one day.
“Coach Paul Terry was our coach at the time,” Gantt said. “I went out a little early one day for practice and had piled up some dirt to kick off of, and I kicked one that ended up on the other side of the practice field. Coach Terry came down and yelled, ‘Who kicked that ball?’ I sheepishly raised my hand and I just knew I was going to be in trouble. He then said, “Grab another football and let’s see that again.’”
Gantt said he wasn’t sure his success kicking barefoot was the reason it was banned, but he said that he was the only one around here that was doing it.
Playing varsity at a young age let Gantt grow as a player, he said.
“It was a lot of fun, but it was scary when I was freshman,” Gantt said. “There was a lot of hard work and hardship that went into playing.”
Gantt said that his father never missed a single game or practice while they were playing any sport.
“Mom never came to a game and Dad never missed one,” Gantt said. “He always had a note of encouragement for me. He knew what he was talking about. He played at the University of Alabama with Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.”
Besides playing varsity football, Gantt also lettered in varsity basketball and baseball.
“In our family, if you weren’t at school or playing sports, you were in the fields working,” Gantt said. “That’s the way that my parents raised us, and so I found as many sports as I could to stay away from working in the field.”
During baseball season, Gantt said that practices would be so late that supper would be cold by the time they got home, and one night his mother was fed up with the lateness.
“We would be at baseball practice so late almost every night,” Gantt said. “Mom would always cook supper, but there wouldn’t be anyone there to eat. One night, she was sick of it and while we were at baseball practice she went through the house and got every baseball that we owned and put them in a pot a boiled them. When we got home from practice there was a smoking pot of baseballs sitting in the middle of the table and she said that if we wanted something to eat that we could just eat the baseballs.”
Gantt continued to play baseball, basketball and football, but it was on the gridiron where Gantt really stood out.
“I had several scholarship offers, but an injury kept me from playing,” Gantt said. “I ended up going to the Livingston State University, and that’s where I met my wife Brenda.”
Gantt was recruited by many colleges including Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Florida State and the University of Alabama.
Following his senior season at AHS, Gantt was named AHS’s Most Valuable Player, Best Blocking Lineman, Permanent Team Co-Captain and was selected to play in the North/South All-Star game.
It was in that North/South All-Star game that Gantt suffered a leg injury that ended his football career.
Gantt went on to graduate for Livingston State University and served in law enforcement for 25 years.
“I worked for the ABC Board in Montgomery for many years and retired from there a few years ago,” Gantt said. “Retirement didn’t last long as Brenda put us both to work at our place, Sweet Gum Bottom. I keep asking her when she is going to let us retire.”
The Gantts are still happily married and living in Andalusia. They have two children, Dallas Gantt and Hannah Merrell and five grandchildren.
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.