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AHSFHS Article Series

   The best of the best in Alabama High   
  School Football over the past 100 seasons.

The Tuscaloosa Black Bears

        The past decade has seen the rise of the Hoover Bucs and talk of high school football dynasties once again around the state. Discussions turn to the best football dynasties of all time in Alabama and fans remember the Verbena teams from 1950-54, Clay County 1994-97, Tallassee 1941-47 and Andalusia 1972-78.

        The best team ever over an extended period of time just may be the Tuscaloosa Black Bears of the 1920s. All they did was put together an incredible string of 64 consecutive football games without a loss over a period of seven seasons. How good were these Black Bears anyway. Did they just pile up huge wins against smaller schools?

        The two coaches that led them through this span were Paul Burnum and Al Clements. Burnum coached the Black Bears for the first five seasons of the streak before taking over as freshmen coach with the University of Alabama. Al Clements, who would later become the head coach at Jacksonville State, took over in 1930 for three seasons.

        It all began in 1925 in Burnum's first season as head coach. The team had been mediocre the past few seasons but immediately began to win. They finished the 1925 season with a record of 8-0-1 with the 7-7 tie coming to a powerful and undefeated Cullman team that allowed only two touchdowns all season. Cullman scored late in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

        During the next four seasons Burnum would guide the Black Bears to consecutive 9-0 records. The 1926 team would outscore their opponents 532-16. In 1926 Burnun started a series of games against some of the best teams across the country. They defeated Senn High School of Chicago 42-0 in a gamed billed as a national championship game.

        Al Clements took over in 1930 and the streak continued. It almost came to an end in 1930 when the Black Bears traveled to Atlanta to play against a powerful Tech High School team. Tech would win the game but later forfeit for the use of ineligible players.

      The streak continued until the Black Bears lost to Holt to open the 1932 season. The string of 64 consecutive games without a loss still stands as the longest non-losing streak in Alabama high school football history. So when talk turns to dynasties remember the Black Bears of Tuscaloosa and their amazing string of 61-0-3 from 1925-1932.

      Tuscaloosa eventually closed and was consolidated with Druid to form Central Tuscaloosa in 1979. A court order stated the two schools were to be combined but could not use the colors or mascot of either Druid or Tuscaloosa. So the Black Bears were destined to extinction. Central eventually selected the Falcons as a mascot.

    98     Francis Marion     0           W      
68 Carrollton 0 W
8 Woodlawn 0 W
7 Sidney Lanier 0 W
21 Fairfield 0 W
26 Lamar County 0 W
26 Jefferson County 11 W
12 Bessemer 6 W
7 Cullman 7 T
87 Lamar County 7 W
55 Hueytown 9 W
82 Jones Valley 0 W
42 Fairfield 0 W
56 Pickens County 0 W
67 Cullman 0 W
66 Berry Fayette 0 W
35 Bessemer 0 W
42 Senn High IL 0 W
35 Tuscaloosa County 14 W
95 Jefferson County 0 W
28 Cullman 7 W
47 Jones Valley 0 W
32 Bessemer 0 W
66 Coffee 0 W
47 Fairfield 0 W
23 Phillips Birmingham 6 W
33 Lakeland FL 7 W
33 Tuscaloosa County 0 W
40 Decatur 0 W
35 Bessemer 6 W
49 Cloverdale 0 W
36 Fairfield 0 W
61 Pickens County 0 W
65 Cullman 0 W
32 Phillips Birmingham 0 W
19 McKinley Tech DC 6 W
85 Jones Valley 0 W
63 Pickens County 0 W
28 Tuscaloosa County 0 W
14 Anniston 0 W
72 Simpson 0 W
39 Marion Military Reserves 0 W
40 Deshler 0 W
20 Bessemer 6 W
18 University City MO 12 W
7 Holt 0 W
27 Thomasville 0 W
70 Lineville 0 W
7 Anniston 0 W
0 Tech High GA 39 W FF
53 Jefferson County 0 W
20 Tuscaloosa County 0 W
32 Sylacauga 0 W
37 Tech High Memphis TN 6 W
39 Holt 0 W
26 Athens 0 W
39 Walker 0 W
12 Alexander City 6 W
7 Bessemer 7 T
40 Jefferson County 0 W
6 Tuscaloosa County 0 W
0 Anniston 0 T
6 Hoptown 0 W
7 Sidney Lanier 0 W
0 Holt 6 L

Great Moments in Alabama High School Football History

Luverne 'Toad' Wise was the first female football player in Alabama and may have been the first in the country. She was a kicker for the Escambia County Blue Devils in 1939-40.