Remember When: History of the origin of the AHS Bulldogs

Published 8:00 pm Friday, September 20, 2019

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This football season will feature a celebration, another tradition at the Andalusia High School, that is being called “100 Seasons of Football (1920-2019)” and commemorates not only the 100th season but also the 1000th game. A highlight of this celebration will be held at the October 4th game.

No one knows exactly when the school fight song originated. “The Notre Dame Fight Song,” one of the nation’s most popular fight songs, is the tune sung to the words, “Corn, Corn to Ole Andy High.” It probably was chosen when a school marching band was organized – maybe in the Prohibition years of the 1920s would be a good guess based on some of the lyrics!

Another mystery may be about to be unfolded after a good bit of research lately of the part of local historians. One may wonder – Just when did the team become the Andalusia Bulldogs? Here are some excerpts from old newspaper accounts that shed some light on the subject.

Richard I. Kearley was born at Franklin, Alabama in Monroe County in 1891. He received his early educational training in the public schools of that place, at Selma Military Institute for two years, and at Alabama Polytechnic institute graduating from Auburn in veterinary medicine. Kearley had also previously taken two years in pharmacy.

During his college years, Dr. Kearley was prominent on the Auburn campus in an athletic way. He was a member of the varsity football, track, and soccer teams, and he excelled to make the All-Southern team in football for two years.

August 3, 1915The Andalusia Star – “Dr. R. I. Kearley who recently graduated from the state college at Auburn, Ala. has been appointed Assistant State Veterinarian at Andalusia. This is quite a distinction for Dr. Kearley as only two were appointed to this position out of a class of 14.”

Early notices in the local newspaper such as the ones on May 17, and 28, 1918 advertise – “Dr. R. I. Kearley, Veterinary Surgeon, Andalusia Office, Riley’s Drug Store, Treats All Domestic Animals. Dehorn Cattle. Telephone Calls Given Prompt Attention.”

Looking back to November 12, 1915, a news story from The Andalusia Star reported that “A football team was organized for Andalusia with Herbert Moorer as Captain. This organization was in the nature of a football rally and was attended by a large crowd of lovers of the gridiron sport. A strong (community) team was formed and practice was begun on the Court Square. A challenge has been sent to Brewton for a game at that place on Thanksgiving Day.”

Another article on the same newspaper date reads “Several Andalusia boys left this morning for Birmingham where they go to attend the big football game between Auburn and Vanderbilt this afternoon.”

“Among those going are Dr. R. I. Kearley, Herbert Moorer, and Frank Lockwood of the old Auburn alumni who will assist their alma mater in the same. They will join about 500 more football enthusiasts at Montgomery where a special train will take them to Birmingham.”

So this writer believes that the 1915 Andalusia team that was organized was not a school team but a community team since Moorer, their captain, was identified as an Auburn alum.

Now keep following me as you read what is coming next!

June 28, 1918The Andalusia Star – “Dr. R. I. Kearley has been notified (drafted) to report July 11th at Montgomery. He will enter the service as a veterinary surgeon with the rank of Lieutenant. He will leave shortly for his home at Monroeville for a brief visit with his parents before joining the colors.”

Kearley must have returned to Andalusia to continue his practice soon after the end of World War I which ended November 11, 1918.

September 24, 1920The Andalusia Star – “HIGH SCHOOL TO HAVE FOOTBALL THIS YEAR – The Andalusia High School will have a football team this season. Equipment for the team will be here in a few days and practice will start in earnest the first of next week. Professor Dowdy will coach this team and will have the assistance of Dr. R. I. Kearley, former Auburn player.”

“Several games have been arranged, but the schedule will not be announced until later. Some good teams will be brought here, and it is planned to have one of the best prep teams in South Alabama here for Thanksgiving.”

“While this will be the first year that football has really been undertaken by the high school, there is plenty of good material. Coaches and players will work hard to the end that a good team will take the field in the first game of the season.”

“All home games will be played on the campus of the Andalusia City School, and this with very little work can be put into excellent condition.”

Please note that the Andalusia City School in 1920 was the school building that later became known as East Three Notch School. Church Street School that was built to house the high school was not constructed until 1923. So the first football games for Andalusia High School would have been played on what was the playground in the back of the East Three Notch School which is the now a parking lot for the present Andalusia City Hall – maybe a good place for an historic marker!

December 1, 1947The Andy Hi-Lite – “Andalusia’s First Team – The team of 1920 was the first to represent Andalusia on the gridiron. R. S. ‘Red’ Brown coached the 1921 team and laid the success of the 1922 team which lost only to Sidney Lanier and Monroeville. The following local men played on this team: Leon Benson, merchant; James A. Wilson, principal at AHS; Robert Albritton, attorney; Milton H. O’Neal, druggist; Edwin Carroll and Chester Adams, employees of Alatex.”

November 20, 1921The Montgomery Advertiser – “The Andalusia boys gained frequently through the visitor’s line while their own held like a stone wall. Andalusia High School won from Bay Minette on the local gridiron by the score of 12 to 7.”

May 12, 1922The Andalusia Star – “Thursday morning was Health and Athletics Day. Health from an athletic standpoint was discussed by Drs. R. I. Kearley, A. M. Richards, and L. E. Broughton. Field Exercises were held on the school campus.”

In 1962 Editor Ed Dannelly of The Andalusia Star News wrote in his column, “In the Andy Swing” that Dr. R. I. Kearley who is prominently known throughout the Andalusia area is referred to by many who recall his outstanding play at Auburn as a line-bucking halfback and defensive end as “Bull” Kearley.

September 30, 1921The Andalusia Star – “J. J. Moates, proprietor of the Dixie Hotel, and one of the Andalusia Boosters believes in handing out bouquets to people while living. He recently commented to a newspaper representative, ‘I want you to know that Andalusia and Covington County have in Dr. Kearley a veterinarian to be proud of. He saved me $300. Sunday night by saving the life of one of my best mules for which I had paid that amount after I had given the mule up as a goner!’

Coach Mayo in September 1922 was pleased to announce that he had some assistance in coaching in the person of Rev. Bob Woodson and Dr. R. I. Kearley and asked that any football veterans of former years make themselves known. He stated he was anxious to give the men on the team the very best and greatest amount of personal attention possible during the short few weeks ahead before the opening game.

September 19, 1922 – “Coach Mayo Holds First Workout with Pigskin Warriors Ready for Fray” was the sports headline.

In all of the information this writer could find in the old newspapers along with the help of historical society member Jan White and Linda Grimes at the Andalusia Public Library, the first mention of the team mascot, the “Bulldogs” which was written several places as the “Bull Dogs” was mentioned in the October 14, 1922 edition of The Andalusia Star. It reads “Friday the 13th proved to be a big day for the Bulldogs of Andalusia High School for they trimmed the Evergreen outfit this afternoon.”

November 25, 1923 – “The last game of the regular schedule will be played here Thanksgiving Day when the Greenville Tigers will clash with the Andalusia Bulldogs. Coach Green says the Tigers with their claws sharpened will face the oncoming growling Andalusia Bulldogs.”

On April 14, 1921, young Dr. Kearley married Miss Annie Leigh Dean of Headland who had come to Andalusia to teach music. She was in charge of the music department in the Andalusia City School. (Mrs. Kearley taught private piano lessons for many years to follow with piano recitals of her students held in the East Three Notch Auditorium.) The couple purchased the Boyd home at 603 South Three Notch Street. Dr. Kearley located his small animal clinic on the far rear portion of  his lot bordering West Watson Street where he practiced prevention and curing of all diseases of small animals. He also made calls throughout the area for other animals including chickens, cattle, hogs, mules, and horses.

Dr. Kearley became the city sanitary officer making marked improvements in the war on flies and mosquito breeding as well as meat and milk inspection. He was president of the Rotary Club in 1931. He spoke to various groups and athletes     on what it takes to make a good football player. He stressed the points that make for a healthy body and told the boys that there was no reason why a young man cannot be a good student, make good grades, and hold his place on the ball team.

December 1, 1947Andy Hi-Lite – “The Andalusia Bulldogs completed the most successful season in the twenty-seven year history of football year in Andalusia High School when they defeated Opp 20 to 6 on Wednesday, November 26. The Bulldog teams have had a colorful career with some successful years and a few heart breaking defeats.”

The late historian and AHS teacher for 39 years and Heritage Room founder, Joe Wingard, took the opportunity a number of years ago to interview the Kearley’s grown children, Anne K. Tipler and Richard Kearley, Jr. as well as many old timers who had been educated in the city school system. It was a well-known remembrance by all of these that Dr. “Bull” Kearley had a great influence in the naming of the AHS Bulldogs. He was no doubt a great supporter of the Bulldog team in the 60 years he lived in Andalusia having passed away in 1977.

     At the home football game on October 4, 2019, a grandson and namesake of Dr. Kearley’s, Richard I. Kearley III of Dallas, Texas will attend the game and be recognized by the AHS coaching staff. The school is still attempting to locate the oldest living former student who played football at Andy High. Maybe one of you readers can help to find one of these former “pig-skinned warriors.” It will be a great event to reminisce and look back at what started out on a dirt playground field to today’s state-of-the-art football field in a dream stadium! Ya’ll come!

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at