Elba QBs past and present

Kevin Matthews, an all-state quarterback on 1989 state champion Elba, poses with Ramsey Rigby, the current quarterback for the Tigers. Elba takes its 14-0 record to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium Friday for a 3 p.m. kickoff against 14-0 Fyffe in the Class 2A State Championship. Matthews, playing under then-head coach Mack Wood, helped the Tigers go 13-2, capped off by a 14-0 win at Rogers in the state championship game. Elba is seeking its seventh football state championship (see season scores in related article) Friday. The Tigers won the 2A basketball title earlier this year.

Several high school teams in Alabama gave up an average of 37 points per game this season. The 1955 Elba Tigers allowed 37… for the entire season.

While Elba’s 2014 Tigers have only four shutouts, they will play for all the marbles Friday at 3 p.m. against the Fyffe Red Devils in the Class 2A Championship game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Ledger looks back at the tradition-rich football program of the Elba Tigers, which will go after a seventh state championship on Friday.

Ledger guest columnist Ricky Adams recalled a conversation he once had with longtime Auburn assistant Bud Casey, a Dothan native now in an Opelika nursing home following multiple strokes.  Casey played on the Dothan High School line in the 1950’s.

“I asked Bud Casey what team he played on, played against, coached or coached against was the best he ever saw, thinking he would name one of the Auburn University teams when he coached Bo Jackson,” Adams said. “Bud immediately said the 1954 Elba High School team was the best he'd ever seen.

"You hear a lot about (Marlin) ‘Scooter’ Dyess and Mack Wise from that era of Elba football, but Elba had 11 players on the field who could all play well. We played them in the Peanut Bowl at the end of the 1954 season and they whipped us all over the field the whole game. That Elba team was the best one I ever saw."

Elba had to get Geneva to cancel their game last in the season so that it could play Dothan. Wise remembers the “folks in Geneva weren’t too happy about that.”

An estimated 8,000 people showed up to watch Elba and Dothan, including Gov. Jim Folsom, an Elba native. Dothan had beaten the likes of Sidney Lanier, Vigor, Anniston, Selma and Panama City that year, but was shut out, 13-0, at home by Elba.

“We were just a group of boys that were real talented playing football,” Wise said Wednesday from his Luverne home. “Carroll Flowers was our quarterback. Mostly, Marlin and I threw the passes from our halfback positions, but Carroll never fumbled the ball. I mean, he never fumbled at all. We had some good linemen, too.”

Wise admitted that he scans the newspapers to see the Elba scores on Saturday morning.

“I guess we just had so ‘want to’ over there at Elba,” Wise said. “If we didn’t have somebody at least down 12 or14 points in the first quarter, something was wrong back then.”

The 1954 Elba team was 10-0, a record the 1955 Tigers equaled the following season.

Those Elba squads are two of the six state championships for Elba football – three mythical (there were no state playoffs until 1966). Elba is recognized by the Alabama High School Athletic Association as the mythical state champs in 1951, ’54 and ’55, as well as the state champions of 1989, ’92 and 2011.

The ’54 squad shut out seven of 10 opponents, including six straight to open the season. The ’55 squad recorded five shutouts. Included in those wins was a 48-0 shellacking of Enterprise in ’54, and a 21-12 win over Enterprise in ’55.

The Dyess and Wise Show continued post-Elba, taking their talents to Alabama, where they played for new Crimson Tide coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. In 1958, Bryant’s first season as head coach of the Tide, Alabama won more games (five) than the previous three seasons under Jennings “Ears” Whitworth.

There was another Dyess-Wise Show with the ’58 Tigers -- Tom Dyess and Jimmy Wise, although they did not have quite the success of the original duo.

Johnny Dyess, a nephew, would later star for the Tigers and walk-on for Bryant Alabama. He is an assistant coach with the current Elba team.

Another Wise, Jetey Wise, is assistant coach at Lanett. was an all-state linebacker on the 1985 Elba squad that reached the finals before losing at Alexandria. Is an assistant coach today at Lanett.

Listed below are the state championship years for the Elba Tigers, their record, head coach and all-state players:

1951 (9-0-1 record)

Coach -- Frank Buckner

Won 7-0 vs. Brantley

Won 7-0 vs. Andalusia

Won 20-7 vs. Luverne

Won 7-6 at Opp

Won 25-18 at Enterprise

Won 14-12 vs. Florala

Won 25-0 vs. Geneva County

Won 6-0 vs. Samson

Won 21-19 vs. Geneva

Tied 6-6 at Ozark

1954 (10-0 record)

Coach – Pearino Gaithers

Won 33-0 at Brantley

Won 27-0 at Luverne

Won 27-0 vs. Opp

Won 48-0 vs. Enterprise

Won 33-0 at Florala

Won 49-0 vs. Geneva County

Won 33-19 vs. Samson

Won 34-19 at Andalusia

Won 41-7 vs. Charles Henderson

Won 13-0 at Dothan

All-State Players: First Team – Marlin Dyess, Thomas Prescott. Honorable Mention -- Bowdoin, Brown, Folsom, Powell, Mack Wise.

1955 (10-0 record)

Coach – Pearino Gaithers

Won 47-0 vs. Luverne

Won 13-6 at Opp

Won 21-12 at Enterprise

Won 34-0 vs. Florala

Won 33-6 at Geneva County

Won 34-7 at Samson

Won 24-6 vs. Geneva

Won 33-0 vs. Andalusia

Won 45-0 at Charles Henderson

Won 60-0 at Ashford

All-State Players: First Team – Charles Clark, Marlin Dyess. Honorable Mention – Burkett, Clark, Mack Wise.

1989 (13-2 record)

Coach – Mack Wood

Won 21-14 at Cottonwood

Won 48-6 vs. Louisville

Won 27-0 vs. Luverne

Won 30-8 at Opp

Won 13-6 vs. Pike County

Lost 0-31 at Niceville, Fla.

Won 51-0 at Rehobeth

Won 47-21 vs. Charles Henderson

Lost 12-19 at Andalusia

Won 33-17 at Daleville

State Playoffs

Won 29-0 vs. Dallas County

Won 41-7 at Southern Choctaw

Won 22-0 vs. Luverne

Won 14-10 at Lamar County

Won 14-0 at Rogers

All-State Players: First Team – Anthony Brooks, Kevin Mathews, Reggie Horstead, Wade Hart.

1992 (13-1 record)

Coach – Mack Wood

Won 19-0 at Charles Henderson

Won 35-17 vs. Georgiana

Won 20-0 at Luverne

Won 35-21 vs. Opp

Won 63-0 vs. Louisville

Won 54-6 vs. Slocomb

Lost 20-21 at T.R. Miller

Won 41-12 vs. Andalusia

Won 34-6 at Hillcrest Evergreen

State Playoffs

Won 28-0 vs. Rehobeth

Won 16-10 at St. Pauls

Won 7-6 vs. Southern Choctaw

Won 21-14 vs. Ashville

Won 15-3 at Lamar County

All-State Coach: Mack Wood. All-State Players: First Team – Greg Thigpen, Joe Donaldson. Honorable Mention -- Aaron Smith, Brice Phillips, Jamie Brockton, Julius Peterson.

2011 (15-0 record)

Coach – Scott Rials

Won 20-14 vs. Opp

Won 26-12 at Goshen

Won 57-14 at Calhoun

Won 48-14 vs. Samson

Won 75-14 at Geneva

Won 39-14 vs. Highland Home

Won 65-0 vs. Zion Chapel

Won 63-14 at New Brockton

Won 80-6 at Red Level

Won 69-15 vs. Cottonwood

State Playoffs

Won 35-6 vs. Houston Academy

Won 59-20 vs. Vincent

Won 33-23 at Flomaton

Won 49-41 at American Christian

Won 34-14 vs. Tanner at Tuscaloosa

All-State Players: First Team Harry Griffin, Michael Lindsey, Tyler Anderson. Honorable Mention – Darrean Burks, Martin Henderson.

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