Nobody gave us a chance
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
The Morgan County High School football team was looking down the barrel of a bad season in 1965.
The Tigers were coming off an 8-1-1 season in 1964, and nobody gave 'em a chance in '65.
In August of that year, the team was mostly a group of unproven, but determined kids. I was a part of that group, and few realized we had a rendezvous with both triumph and tragedy.
The season began pretty much as the sports writers predicted – back-to-back losses to Lee of Huntsville and Athens. Then came the third game of the year with archrival Decatur High School. The Tigers beat the Red Raiders 14-7; a victory that still stands as one of the Tigers' greatest games.
The victory was only the beginning.
After the Decatur game, we went on a winning streak no one had expected. A winning streak that took us up to the final game of the season.
Standing in the way of our winning streak were the Huntsville Crimson Panthers.
Despite the streak, we were three-touchdown underdogs. No one gave the Tigers a chance.
We were not supposed to have the power to stop their tremendous offense, which seemed to consist of student body right and student body left.
As a defensive end, I remember how it seemed the entire Huntsville team was coming straight at me.
Finally, in the defensive huddle, I told our defense "somebody else needs to tackle him because there can't be anyone blocking you … the whole damn team is coming at me."
The Tigers accomplished the impossible that night, beating Huntsville 9-0.
In the next few years, tragedy would find some of the "unproven kids."
Johnny Sewell, the defensive end who played opposite of me, was killed in action in Vietnam in July of 1968.
Johnny Newman, a guard that played beside me on the offensive line, and one of the most hard-nosed players I've ever known, died after suffering a head injury during spring training at Jacksonville State.
And then there was my brother, Richard. He drowned in a hunting accident in December of 1969.
The Tiger team that proved themselves on the football field learned to understand just how seemingly unfair life can be.