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  School Football over the past 100 seasons.






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Coach Don Sharpe discusses strategy with his team

          The Andalusia Bulldogs had enjoyed success on the football field during the 1960s but nothing like they would celebrate from 1973-1978. When Coach Don Sharpe arrived prior to the 1973 season the Bulldogs were coming off four consecutive winning seasons but had never qualified for the playoffs in the school's long history.
 
          All that changed in Coach Sharpe's initial season when the Bulldogs qualified for a spot in the class 3A playoffs following a 9-0-1 regular season. After two playoff game wins the Bulldogs fell to John Carroll 30-7 in the 1973 championship game.

          Beginning in 1972 and into the 1978 season the Bulldogs went 58 games without a regular season defeat, the second longest streak in state football history. The Bulldogs won the last two games in 1972 and did not lose another regular season game until they lost to Elba 34-19 in the next to last game of the 1978 season.

          Andalusia finished the 1974 regular season with a 9-0 record but not without a close call against Charles Henderson when they squeaked by the Trojans 20-19 in week three. They also won a close 9-8 game against Eufaula in the first round of the playoffs before falling at Escambia County 31-14 to end their season with a 10-1 record. Andalusia had beaten the Blue Devils 27-0 during the regular season. Escambia County went on to defeat Sheffield for the state championship two weeks later.

          In 1975, the Bulldogs rolled through the regular season with the only close game being an 8-3 win over Class 4A Enterprise. They entered the playoffs with a perfect 10-0 record. With wins against Smiths Station (54-17), Escambia County (10-0) and Lanett (23-0), Andalusia reached the championship game against Athens. The Bulldogs had to travel to Athens for the contest and were outplayed in a 35-15 loss.

          The 1976 team rolled through the regular season to another perfect 10-0 record and promptly took care of their opponents in the first three rounds of the playoffs setting up a rematch in the title game against Athens. The difference was that in 1976 the championship game would be played on the friendly confines of their home field.

          Athens took an early 7-0 lead but Bobby Johnson scored on a two-yard run and Mark Chavers added the extra point to tie up the game with 6:15 remaining in the third quarter. Andalusia made a valiant effort late in the game when they reached the Athens 32-yard line but a long field goal try was short.

          The game ended in a 7-7 tie and both teams were declared co-champions. Johnson led Andalusia with 98 yards on 26 carries and Anderson chipped in 65 yards on 11 attempts.

          Possibly the Bulldogs' best football team during this era was the 1977 team. It is the only team to go undefeated and untied the entire season. The Bulldogs finished with a school record 14 wins. The Andalusia defense allowed only 76 points in running the tables to a state championship while scoring 422 points. During the regular season the closest game they played was a 33-16 win at Geneva.

          The defense shutout the last three opponents in the playoffs. They defeated Walter Wellborn 7-0 in the title game for the school's first outright state championship. Although the Bulldogs were outgained 166-112 in the title game, Eddie Henderson scored on a four-yard run to account for all the scoring needed in the game.

          The 1977 team was led by Denny Merritt at center, Tim Nall at linebacker and Ricky Vinson at guard. Vinson was responsible for setting up the lone touchdown against Walter Wellborn in the championship game when he broke through to block a Barry Miller punt attempt. Eddie Henderson later scored the game-winning touchdown.

          Doug Collins played both offense and defense at Andalusia for teams that finished 35-1 his last three seasons. In addition to playing tackle he also saw action at center.

The 1977 State Champion Andalusia Bulldogs

          In 1978, the Bulldogs reeled off eight straight wins before losing to Elba on Oct. 27. The loss ended the string of 58 consecutive regular season wins for Andalusia but more importantly it knocked them out of the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

          Some of the players from this magnificent era of football for the Andalusia Bulldogs were; Doug Collins, Harris Rabren, Bobby Johnson, Byron McDougald, Denny Merritt and Tim Nall. Collins was named to the Parade and Coach & Athlete Magazine All-American team as a senior in 1978 along with earning a spot on the Orlando Sentinel first team All-Southern Team as an offensive lineman.

          Tim Nall was a starting linebacker for the Bulldogs from 1974-1977. He was named to the All-State team twice and was a player in the All-Star football game in Tuscaloosa in 1978. Harris Rabren was a four-year letterman for the Bulldogs. He earned All-State honors in 1973 and again his senior season in 1974. Rabren was named to the Birmingham News Super All-State team and the All-Southern team by the Orlando Sentinel. He was the captain of the South squad in the 1975 Alabama All-Star game.

          Bobby Johnson rushed for 2,200 yards in 1976 to lead the Bulldogs to the title game. He was named to the Birmingham News Super All-State team and the All-Southern team. Johnson played in 38 straight games and surpassed the 5,000 yards rushing mark while scoring 60 touchdowns during his career at Andalusia.

          Andalusia can lay claim to being a dynasty during the 1970s. The teams recorded five straight undefeated regular seasons, played in four of five state championship games and compiled a record of 69-4-2. Their overall record for the decade was 98-11-6. The 98 wins were the most of any AHSAA team during the 1970s.

          Don Sharpe stepped down following the 1979 football season to accept the head coaching job at Woodham High School in Pensacola, Florida. His teams at Woodham won two state championships during his tenure with the program.

          Andalusia has never been able to reclaim the glory days of the the 1970s. While there have been some fine seasons, the Bulldogs are just 6-15 in the playoffs since 1977. Only three of the past thirty-five teams have won a playoff game.

Andalusia High School  1978



Andalusia Bulldogs 1973-78
Year Record Championship Game
1973 11-1-1 John Carroll 30-7 Andalusia
1974 10-1  
1975 13-1 Athens 35-15 Andalusia
1976 13-0-1 Andalusia 7-7 Athens
1977 14-0 Andalusia 7-0 Walter Wellborn
1978 8-1


Andalusia
1973

33 Escambia County . . . . 12
36 Luverne . . . . . . . . . . . 6
17 Charles Henderson . . . 6
21 Geneva . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
54 Greenville . . . . . . . . 0
21 Carroll . . . . . . . . . . . 21
14 T.R. Miller . . . . . . . 8
61 Elba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
63 Evergreen . . . . . . . . . 0
30 Opp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
36 Thompson * . . . . . . . . 0
21 Cherokee County * . . . 0
7 John Carroll # . . . . . 30

414 11-1-1 95
1974

42 Luverne . . . . . . . . . . . 0
27 Escambia County . . . . 0
20 Charles Henderson . . . 19
20 Opp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
28 Greenville . . . . . . . . 6
22 Carroll . . . . . . . . . . . 0
27 T.R. Miller . . . . . . . 6
34 Elba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
13 Geneva . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
9 Eufaula * . . . . . . . . . 8
14 Escambia County * . . . 31

256 10-1 91
1975

28 Luverne . . . . . . . . . . . 0
63 Bullock County . . . . . 0
8 Enterprise . . . . . . . . 7
40 Charles Henderson . . . 16
33 Opp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
56 Greenville . . . . . . . . 15
41 Carroll . . . . . . . . . . . 0
49 T.R. Miller . . . . . . . 21
40 Elba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
21 Geneva . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
54 Smiths Station * . . . 26
10 Escambia County * . . . 0
23 Lanett * . . . . . . . . . . 0
15 Athens # . . . . . . . . . . 35

481 13-1 150
1976

46 Luverne . . . . . . . . . . . 0
22 W.S. Neal . . . . . . . . . 6
33 Carroll . . . . . . . . . . . 6
8 Enterprise . . . . . . . . 3
54 Charles Henderson . . . 6
35 Opp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
47 Ashford . . . . . . . . . . . 14
40 Evergreen . . . . . . . . . 0
24 Elba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
35 Geneva . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
22 Smiths Station * . . . 7
34 Jackson * . . . . . . . . . 14
35 Lanett * . . . . . . . . . . 0
7 Athens # . . . . . . . . . . 7

442 13-0-1 84
1977

31 Clarke County . . . . . 6
34 W.S. Neal . . . . . . . . . 0
42 Southside Selma . . . . 0
41 Russell County . . . . . 6
34 Charles Henderson . . . 8
27 Opp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
41 Ashford . . . . . . . . . . . 3
28 Carroll . . . . . . . . . . . 8
28 Elba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
33 Geneva . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
48 Smiths Station * . . . 14
19 Escambia County * . . . 0
9 Stanhope Elmore * . . . 0
7 Walter Wellborn # . . . 0

422 14-0 76
1978

47 Russell County . . . . . 6
53 Geneva . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
38 Charles Henderson . . . 19
40 Demopolis . . . . . . . . . 19
50 Ashford . . . . . . . . . . . 11
43 Carroll . . . . . . . . . . . 29
8 W.S. Neal . . . . . . . . . 0
19 Elba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
41 Opp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

339 8-1 152

* Playoff game
# State championship game




          NEXT: Verbena 1950-1955.
          The Dynasties, a series of articles on Alabama high school football's best teams.

David Parker
  AHSFHS.org
  dparker@ahsfhs.org




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