Thursday, November 18, 2010
Always an HHS Aggie
I could not give up Friday night football just yet for this season.
I remembered about mid-week that my son did not have a basketball game and my alma mater, Hamilton, Ala., was in the second round of the Class 3A state football playoffs.
I gave Les Walters, good friend and best man in my wedding, a call to find out a starting time. He’s the editor of The Journal-Record newspaper in Hamilton.
“Come on over,” he said. “What time will you be here? I will leave you a pass at the gate.”
Hamilton High School is celebrating 100 years of Aggie football this season. Each home game, the school has honored groups of graduates from the past. Les also told me that November 12 HHS would recognize the 1978 football team that went unbeaten during the regular season. I definitely knew then that I was going to the game, because the seniors on that team were classmates of mine. We graduated in 1979.
Les told me a reception for the 1978 team was planned to start at 5 p.m. I could not make that, but he also said the players would be recognized in pre-game at about 6:15.
I arrived at the ticket booth and immediately knew the teacher taking up money. She told me where to go to get the press pass left for me by Les.
I arrived on the grass at Sargent Stadium just as the pre-game was wrapping up. It was my first visit to that field for a game in a very long time.
Seeing my former high school basketball coach (who also assisted with football) and members of the talented 1978 team on the field getting their recognition made me feel right at home.
My first handshake and smile were shared with coach Freddie Burnett. My senior year, he led the basketball Aggies to a 23-7 record, the best in school history at the time.
Then I ran to greet several members of that 1978 team, some I don’t think I’d seen since I graduated more than 31 years ago.
We didn’t get to talk long before game-time, but it was great to see all of them. Like myself, most had bald spots and a little extra gut, but others had not changed much at all.
When the Aggies took the field for their football playoff game versus Glencoe, assistant coach Barry Peoples and head coach Rodney Stidham, both HHS graduates, gave me a hug.
“Good to see you and go get ’em,” I told each of them.
As the game continued, others came to the fence and shouted for me.
It was a special night indeed – getting to see so many good friends, teachers and coaches from my growing-up years.
And it was a special night, too, because the Aggies beat Glencoe in what my friend Les called a “slobber-knocker.” That means a game dominated by defense. Hamilton won 3-0. Most are calling this the best team in school history. The Aggies have never won a state championship in football.
Of course, I could not stay on the sideline without shooting pictures. It reminded me of my days of covering the Aggies while in junior college and college.
Les is encouraging me to return this Friday for a state quarter-final game. No doubt, he just wants some more good photos.
I probably won’t be able to go, but last Friday was wonderful.
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