Are you old enough to remember when High School football was everything in small towns ?...

WCDawgWCDawg Posts: 2,437 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

In Cedartown in the 1970s you could sleep in the middle of Main St if a home game of in progress, it wouldn't be smart, but your odds of survival would be pretty good. In a town of 10,000, we drew 6,000 on a regular basis.
The sport will never see that level of support again, but how much further will it decline given it's reduced social role, proliferation of media options and health concerns ?

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Comments

  • christopheruleschristopherules Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    I do not have this as firsthand knowledge, as this was relayed to me from a USMC buddy that I served with, as we were both from Georgia & stationed overseas in Japan together years ago. He told me that the town of Valdosta, Georgia would basically shut down (I am told, again his relaying this information to me is secondhand) in years gone by for that juggernaut they had years ago.

  • VALDOSTADAWGVALDOSTADAWG Posts: 143 ✭✭✭ Junior

    V-town still gets pretty crazy these days. Whenever Lowndes and Valdosta play each other it's the talk of the town for weeks. They're in different classes now but still play every year for the rights of best team in "Titletown USA". Pure old-fashioned hate down here between the two fanbases.

  • jgf1031jgf1031 Posts: 201 ✭✭✭ Junior
    edited July 11

    My dad played at ECI in the 70s, a small school in a town of about 1600. Twin City, GA.

    High School football is still everything to that town.

    If you're looking for a house to break into, do it on a Friday night.

  • VALDOSTADAWGVALDOSTADAWG Posts: 143 ✭✭✭ Junior

    I'll add that High School Football 'round these parts is MUCH bigger than college. It kind of stinks that VSU doesn't get much attendance at their games (they share the stadium with Valdosta. And VSU plays with Valdosta's wildcat paw-print at midfield) Most of us are pretty preoccupied with D1 schools like UGA, UF, and FSU. I'd say the fans are split just about evenly.

  • dawgnmsdawgnms Posts: 423 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    @WCDawg said:

    @christopherules said:
    I do not have this as firsthand knowledge, as this was relayed to me from a USMC buddy that I served with, as we were both from Georgia & stationed overseas in Japan together years ago. He told me that the town of Valdosta, Georgia would basically shut down (I am told, again his relaying this information to me is secondhand) in years gone by for that juggernaut they had years ago.

    Valdosta was in a league of it's own, even when most towns in the south were ruled by hs football.
    They were run at a college level, they also ruled on the field.

    Being from the area and going to Lowndes High back in the late 60's early 70's Valdosta WAS the team. Wright Bazemore won more games than any coach in High School along with many many State championships and National Championships. They would fill what is now Bazemore-Hyder stadium/Cleveland Field with 10K every home game. Was AAA back then when that was the highest classification. They used to talk about the Ghost of Cleveland Field when strange things happened to help the Wildcats win. Nick Hyder took over a few years after Bazemore retired and after they fired Charlie Green for losing 3 games over 2 years, Hyder kept the Bazemore tradition going with State and National Championships after that.

  • VALDOSTADAWGVALDOSTADAWG Posts: 143 ✭✭✭ Junior

    @dawgnms said:

    @WCDawg said:

    @christopherules said:
    I do not have this as firsthand knowledge, as this was relayed to me from a USMC buddy that I served with, as we were both from Georgia & stationed overseas in Japan together years ago. He told me that the town of Valdosta, Georgia would basically shut down (I am told, again his relaying this information to me is secondhand) in years gone by for that juggernaut they had years ago.

    Valdosta was in a league of it's own, even when most towns in the south were ruled by hs football.
    They were run at a college level, they also ruled on the field.

    Being from the area and going to Lowndes High back in the late 60's early 70's Valdosta WAS the team. Wright Bazemore won more games than any coach in High School along with many many State championships and National Championships. They would fill what is now Bazemore-Hyder stadium/Cleveland Field with 10K every home game. Was AAA back then when that was the highest classification. They used to talk about the Ghost of Cleveland Field when strange things happened to help the Wildcats win. Nick Hyder took over a few years after Bazemore retired and after they fired Charlie Green for losing 3 games over 2 years, Hyder kept the Bazemore tradition going with State and National Championships after that.

    Every kid that Bazemore coached (assuming they played at VHS since they were a freshman) got a state title under there belt. Crazy run this dude put together.

  • WCDawgWCDawg Posts: 2,437 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    @dawgnms said:

    @WCDawg said:

    @christopherules said:
    I do not have this as firsthand knowledge, as this was relayed to me from a USMC buddy that I served with, as we were both from Georgia & stationed overseas in Japan together years ago. He told me that the town of Valdosta, Georgia would basically shut down (I am told, again his relaying this information to me is secondhand) in years gone by for that juggernaut they had years ago.

    Valdosta was in a league of it's own, even when most towns in the south were ruled by hs football.
    They were run at a college level, they also ruled on the field.

    Being from the area and going to Lowndes High back in the late 60's early 70's Valdosta WAS the team. Wright Bazemore won more games than any coach in High School along with many many State championships and National Championships. They would fill what is now Bazemore-Hyder stadium/Cleveland Field with 10K every home game. Was AAA back then when that was the highest classification. They used to talk about the Ghost of Cleveland Field when strange things happened to help the Wildcats win. Nick Hyder took over a few years after Bazemore retired and after they fired Charlie Green for losing 3 games over 2 years, Hyder kept the Bazemore tradition going with State and National Championships after that.

    VHS didn't slow down when Nike Hyder took over, a friend of mine won a state title when Hyder was in Rome Ga.

  • dawgnmsdawgnms Posts: 423 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    @VALDOSTADAWG said:

    @dawgnms said:

    @WCDawg said:

    @christopherules said:
    I do not have this as firsthand knowledge, as this was relayed to me from a USMC buddy that I served with, as we were both from Georgia & stationed overseas in Japan together years ago. He told me that the town of Valdosta, Georgia would basically shut down (I am told, again his relaying this information to me is secondhand) in years gone by for that juggernaut they had years ago.

    Valdosta was in a league of it's own, even when most towns in the south were ruled by hs football.
    They were run at a college level, they also ruled on the field.

    Being from the area and going to Lowndes High back in the late 60's early 70's Valdosta WAS the team. Wright Bazemore won more games than any coach in High School along with many many State championships and National Championships. They would fill what is now Bazemore-Hyder stadium/Cleveland Field with 10K every home game. Was AAA back then when that was the highest classification. They used to talk about the Ghost of Cleveland Field when strange things happened to help the Wildcats win. Nick Hyder took over a few years after Bazemore retired and after they fired Charlie Green for losing 3 games over 2 years, Hyder kept the Bazemore tradition going with State and National Championships after that.

    Every kid that Bazemore coached (assuming they played at VHS since they were a freshman) got a state title under there belt. Crazy run this dude put together.

    The Valdosta system was installed in the Boys Club and Pee Wee leagues so when they got to Bazemore they already knew the system and were ready to rock. Bazemore was mentioned in Sports Illustrated when he retired as the winningest High School football coach in America. ESPN voted it Title Town USA with all the State and National Championships that Bazemore and Hyder won.

  • VALDOSTADAWGVALDOSTADAWG Posts: 143 ✭✭✭ Junior

    @dawgnms said:

    @VALDOSTADAWG said:

    @dawgnms said:

    @WCDawg said:

    @christopherules said:
    I do not have this as firsthand knowledge, as this was relayed to me from a USMC buddy that I served with, as we were both from Georgia & stationed overseas in Japan together years ago. He told me that the town of Valdosta, Georgia would basically shut down (I am told, again his relaying this information to me is secondhand) in years gone by for that juggernaut they had years ago.

    Valdosta was in a league of it's own, even when most towns in the south were ruled by hs football.
    They were run at a college level, they also ruled on the field.

    Being from the area and going to Lowndes High back in the late 60's early 70's Valdosta WAS the team. Wright Bazemore won more games than any coach in High School along with many many State championships and National Championships. They would fill what is now Bazemore-Hyder stadium/Cleveland Field with 10K every home game. Was AAA back then when that was the highest classification. They used to talk about the Ghost of Cleveland Field when strange things happened to help the Wildcats win. Nick Hyder took over a few years after Bazemore retired and after they fired Charlie Green for losing 3 games over 2 years, Hyder kept the Bazemore tradition going with State and National Championships after that.

    Every kid that Bazemore coached (assuming they played at VHS since they were a freshman) got a state title under there belt. Crazy run this dude put together.

    The Valdosta system was installed in the Boys Club and Pee Wee leagues so when they got to Bazemore they already knew the system and were ready to rock. Bazemore was mentioned in Sports Illustrated when he retired as the winningest High School football coach in America. ESPN voted it Title Town USA with all the State and National Championships that Bazemore and Hyder won.

    I remember when they voted on the city that would be dubbed "Titletown" live on ESPN years ago. We were the proudest little town in America that night lol.

  • dawgnmsdawgnms Posts: 423 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    Wow things seem to disappear around here if you edit them lol

    Remember when Hyder passed away from a heart attack while HC. Lastinger and Talley were 2 of his QB's. He kept the winning ways alive

  • WCDawgWCDawg Posts: 2,437 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    @dawgnms said:
    Wow things seem to disappear around here if you edit them lol

    Remember when Hyder passed away from a heart attack while HC. Lastinger and Talley were 2 of his QB's. He kept the winning ways alive

    Yep, the disappearances are weird.. they frighten me.

  • KaseyKasey Posts: 2,069 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Freshman year for me was in abbeville, sc and our team was going for a state title. Troy Gamble was the do everything QB and come playoff time the town definitely shut down

  • BrooklynDawgBrooklynDawg Posts: 408 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    Camden County High Scool is still like that, one school for the whole county. The whole town still comes out to watch.

  • pgjacksonpgjackson Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    I played my first three years of Varsity football in England (83-86). There were 5 DOD schools on US military bases in England that played football. Probably similar to A-AA football in the states. We were lucky to get 100 people in the stands. My senior year I moved to Corpus Christi to a AAAA school (back when 5A was as big as it got). Holy hell was that a culture shock! HS football was a very big deal in Texas. EVERYONE went to the games on Friday night. That movie Friday Night Lights is completely accurate. Varsity Blues was pretty close as well.

  • ThelordjohnsonThelordjohnson Posts: 1,074 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Growing up in Missouri I never experienced this. Not until after college and taking a job in Texas and seeing HS stadiums that had screens bigger than Baylors did i realize how this world is.

  • christopheruleschristopherules Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Culturally I miss that about Georgia. High School Football was simply the BIGGEST thing on the campus. It’s just not the same out here in California (except in certain pockets), ditto for college football (ditto again for those certain pockets)... HOWEVER, College Football is KING back “home” in Georgia, & I hope that we get the opportunity to retire to there one day when the kids are older. Right now? A great job, even greater in laws, & absolutely the GREATEST wife that a guy like me could ever dream of... so??? I brainwash the kids for the DAWGS, & even my sweet wife has been professing loyalty to be ALL DAWGFAN, so (as good as is possible) I have the best memories of my own childhood, & we are making more now out here. GO DAWGS!!!

  • UnderDog68UnderDog68 Posts: 1,000 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    It's still big in South Ga. Especially in Thomasville. There's nothing to do on Friday nights there except go to football games. Back in 1993, Thomasville High and Thomas Co. Central played each other for the AAA state title. The whole town shut down, extra bleachers were brought to TCC's stadium, and it was standing room only. Estimated crowd was about 12,000, which was basically the whole town's population, according to the 1990 census.

    The police chief was later quoted as saying that it would have been a perfect time to steal the whole town, because all the extra city cops and county deputies were doing security at the game.

  • DamnYankeeDawgDamnYankeeDawg Posts: 136 ✭✭✭ Junior

    I do miss Friday night football in Georgia. Guess I got lucky and spoiled when I moved to Valdosta. Got there in 1991 and they won one of the national championships in 1992. That was a crazy year because Berwick, PA had a great team too and won the other NC. Why is that relevant? I grew up about 30 miles away from Berwick and was pulling for Coach Curry and a QB named Ron Paulus. I was also pulling for Valdosta because I was dating a girl whose younger brother played on the 1992 team. Couldn't believe how packed the stadium was for home games. Most of the town showed up for the games. Valdosta was, and probably still is, one of the best high school football towns I've ever seen.

  • DamnYankeeDawgDamnYankeeDawg Posts: 136 ✭✭✭ Junior

    @VALDOSTADAWG said:
    I'll add that High School Football 'round these parts is MUCH bigger than college. It kind of stinks that VSU doesn't get much attendance at their games (they share the stadium with Valdosta. And VSU plays with Valdosta's wildcat paw-print at midfield) Most of us are pretty preoccupied with D1 schools like UGA, UF, and FSU. I'd say the fans are split just about evenly.

    Agree with you on that. We never had good attendance for VSU when I was there in the '90s despite having a great coaching staff and some good talent on those teams. Hal Mumme was the head coach. Future coach Chris Hatcher was QB. Mike Leach, yes that Mike Leach, was the QB coach.

    National championships in 2004, 2007 and 2012. One of the greatest wins in school history was the win over Carson Newman in 2015. Incredible comeback. Good football being played by a great DII program in Deep South Georgia.

  • dawgnmsdawgnms Posts: 423 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    @DamnYankeeDawg said:

    @VALDOSTADAWG said:
    I'll add that High School Football 'round these parts is MUCH bigger than college. It kind of stinks that VSU doesn't get much attendance at their games (they share the stadium with Valdosta. And VSU plays with Valdosta's wildcat paw-print at midfield) Most of us are pretty preoccupied with D1 schools like UGA, UF, and FSU. I'd say the fans are split just about evenly.

    Agree with you on that. We never had good attendance for VSU when I was there in the '90s despite having a great coaching staff and some good talent on those teams. Hal Mumme was the head coach. Future coach Chris Hatcher was QB. Mike Leach, yes that Mike Leach, was the QB coach.

    National championships in 2004, 2007 and 2012. One of the greatest wins in school history was the win over Carson Newman in 2015. Incredible comeback. Good football being played by a great DII program in Deep South Georgia.

    Where Bazemore-Hyder Stadium is located is where the old High School was. Was there way before VSU had males enrolled as it was originally a Women's College. No way they ever build a new stadium for the Cats. Will never destroy the myth of the ghost of Cleveland Field. VSU can afford to build a stadium but why bother when they can cheaply use one close to thier campus.

    Spent a few Saturdays watching Mumme and Hatcher teams play. Fun high powered run and shoot offenses. Hatcher was a hell of a QB at VSU. Moved away in 2003 before they won those titles.

  • KaseyKasey Posts: 2,069 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    My dad and my uncle saw his alma mater ECI play Johnson County one night a certain tailback played in the game. Said it was SRO and cars were parked along the street because the lot was full. Can only imagine how fun that game was. ECI won too which is even more unbelievable

  • onebad_dawg85onebad_dawg85 Posts: 4 ✭ Freshman

    Wow things seem to disappear around here if you edit them lol

    Remember when Hyder passed away from a heart attack while HC. Lastinger and Talley were 2 of his QB's. He kept the winning ways alive

    I was apart of the Sr class the year Hyder passed. I've never played for a coach like that the rest of my football career. To play for the Wildcats allowed me to believe I can win any game.

  • WCDawgWCDawg Posts: 2,437 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited July 13

    @christopherules said:
    Culturally I miss that about Georgia. High School Football was simply the BIGGEST thing on the campus. It’s just not the same out here in California (except in certain pockets), ditto for college football (ditto again for those certain pockets)... HOWEVER, College Football is KING back “home” in Georgia, & I hope that we get the opportunity to retire to there one day when the kids are older. Right now? A great job, even greater in laws, & absolutely the GREATEST wife that a guy like me could ever dream of... so??? I brainwash the kids for the DAWGS, & even my sweet wife has been professing loyalty to be ALL DAWGFAN, so (as good as is possible) I have the best memories of my own childhood, & we are making more now out here. GO DAWGS!!!

    Being big on campus is one thing, what made small town southern football the cultural giant it was had more to do with it's status in town though. If your team was good it was far more important than any college or pro team in that community.

  • christopheruleschristopherules Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    @WCDawg agree completely. Good point sir.

  • UnderDog68UnderDog68 Posts: 1,000 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    One of the greatest wins in school history was the win over Carson Newman in 2015. Incredible comeback. Good football being played by a great DII program in Deep South Georgia.

    I was at that game. Carson-Newman was running that split-back veer, and as soon as they had built the lead pretty well, I thought it was over, because they went into clock-burn mode. Usually works with the veer or the other triple option offenses, but VSU never gave up and pulled it out.

  • donmdonm Posts: 3,136 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Carson-Newman was later dinged for “irregularities” in the # of scholarships they gave out. Tsk. Tsk.

  • AirForceDawgAirForceDawg Posts: 122 ✭✭✭ Junior

    I moved to Valdosta in 1978 just in time for junior high school and it didn't take long for me to catch the lifelong football fever that was endemic throughout the community.

    Even though I ended up going to Lowndes County High School (won 4A state championships in football/baseball my freshman year over Griffin High School), I had great respect for Valdosta High School's Head Football Coach Nick Hyder, Defensive Coordinator Jack Rudolph, et al.

    • Hyder: "Men, Kissin' is a contact sport, football is a game of collisions!"

    Although H.G. Bissinger's novel 'Friday Night Lights' captures the magic of high school football in the relatively small towns of Odessa and Midland, Texas, it reminded me of high school football in Valdosta:

    12,000 fans at Lowndes County High School home games and >11,000 fans at Valdosta High School home games

    • Season tickets
    • Huge bands (Lowndes' Georgia Bridgemen has >425 members)
    • Friday afternoon pep rallies for the football team
    • Radio broadcasts of home & away games
    • Championship tradition:
      -- Valdosta High School
      --- 911 football wins most in the nation
      --- 24 football state championships
      --- 6 football national championships
      -- Lowndes County High School
      --- 5 football state championships
  • UnderDog68UnderDog68 Posts: 1,000 ✭✭✭✭ Senior

    @AirForceDawg said:
    Although H.G. Bissinger's novel 'Friday Night Lights' captures the magic of high school football in the relatively small towns of Odessa and Midland, Texas, it reminded me of high school football in Valdosta:

    Odessa-Permian is a power....or was, don't know if they still are....in their own right, but IMO, they ain't got nothing on Valdosta High's program.

    Back in the mid to late 80s, when Friday Night Lights was set, Valdosta High was winning another National Championship. (1986)....

    They would have beat the brakes off the Permian team that that book was written about.

  • donmdonm Posts: 3,136 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    @UnderDog68 said:

    @AirForceDawg said:
    Although H.G. Bissinger's novel 'Friday Night Lights' captures the magic of high school football in the relatively small towns of Odessa and Midland, Texas, it reminded me of high school football in Valdosta:

    Odessa-Permian is a power....or was, don't know if they still are....in their own right, but IMO, they ain't got nothing on Valdosta High's program.

    Back in the mid to late 80s, when Friday Night Lights was set, Valdosta High was winning another National Championship. (1986)....

    They would have beat the brakes off the Permian team that that book was written about.

    Maybe.

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