• 68°

HONORING BULLDOG GREATS: Spears to be inducted into Andy Hall of Fame

Paul Spears wasn’t at Andalusia long, but his success while there has earned him a spot in 2017 Andalusia High School Football Hall of Fame class that will be inducted this month.

“It’s just a really big honor,” Spears said. “I was really excited when I found out that I was going to be inducted.”

Spears grew up in Florala, and moved to Andalusia for his senior year in 1970.

“There was a big fuss when I left Florala,” Spears said. “Everyone thought there was something going on, but there really wasn’t. It was just me and my mom at the time and I moved to Andalusia to have a better chance at being recruited.”

In his first game at Andalusia, the Bulldogs got a win, but Spears ended up in the hospital.

“I took a pretty good shot early in the game,” Spears said. “I kept playing until halftime, but I don’t remember being out there. By halftime, they had taken me to the hospital.”

That season, the Bulldogs tied three games and lost one that kept them from reaching the state playoffs.

“That year we tied Troy, Elba and Opp and lost to Geneva,” Spears said. “We lost to Geneva 3-0 and I had a touchdown called back that would have won the game for us. We should have won more games than we did. In the Troy game, I almost ran a punt back for a touchdown that would have kept us from tying.”

A few weeks after the Troy game, Andalusia took on Florala in Spears’ old stomping grounds.

“That was a pretty fun game,” Spears said. “I’m pretty sure the starters only played the first few series. It was nice to play against some of my old friends from Florala.”

The Bulldogs won the game with ease and Spears racked up 137 yards with two touchdowns on nine carries.

In Andalusia’s homecoming game, the Bulldogs whipped T.R. Miller. A little dipsy-do pass to Spears helped give the Bulldogs a big win.

“We had a little trick play where we threw the ball out to the flanker and then I swing around him and he throws it downfield to me,” Spears said. “I knew it was going to work and when I got around the flanker, I was all alone.”

It was the Opp game that kept the Bulldogs out of the playoffs that season, Spears said.

“That game we came in having to win to go to playoffs and we didn’t do it,” Spears said. “It was do-or-die for us and we died.”

After the season, Spears was named Andalusia High School’s Most Valuable Player and Best Offensive Back. He was also named All-South Alabama Conference and first team All-State by the Birmingham News. Spears was selected to play in the North/South All-Star football game.

During his senior year, Spears said that he began receiving offers to play college football.

“I started to get letters and calls from college recruiters during my senior year,” Spears said. “That was a neat experience. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was just a dumb country redneck, but I did want to do my best.”

Spears said that he had a few offers, but ultimately choose Florida State.

“College was totally different from high school,” Spears said. “When I got there, they told me I would just be playing on defense. I really wanted to play offense, but I never got the chance to in college.”

During those days, freshmen were not allowed to play on the varsity team, but instead played on the freshman team.

“Our freshman team played only five games that year,” Spears said. “I had five interceptions in those games. I got two in a game against Southern Miss, and that was pretty neat because they also recruited me.”

The hardest part about playing football at Florida State was the practices before spring practice.

“In January, we would have what was called pre-spring practice,” Spears said. “It was the most strenuous training that I’ve ever done in my life. It was a heated room and we would be doing all kinds of things from boxing to tug-of-war. They had to drag people out of there at the end. Pre-spring was tougher than spring training ever thought about being.”

BANQUET

This is the eighth annual Andalusia High School Hall of Fame Banquet and Installation Ceremony.

It’s hosted by the Andalusia High School Quarterback Club.

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

This year’s inductees also include C.C. Baker George Patton Gantt, Denny Merritt, Sam Johnson and Kendall Taylor.

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