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           In 1984, Spence McCracken returned to Robert E. Lee as head football coach and athletic director. Lee had not won much since the 1970s when he revived the once prominent program. His eleven teams at Lee all had winning records and each of them made the state playoffs.

          McCracken won area championships in every season except one (1990). His playoff record at Lee was 28-8 with a area record of 26-1. His teams won Class 6A State Championships in 1986, 1991 and 1992.

          The 1986 team finished the season with a perfect 15-0 record after defeating Jess Lanier 13-7 in the Class 6A state championship game. The team would finish the season ranked second nationally by the USA Today.

          With the 13-7 victory at Legion Field in Birmingham, Robert E. Lee completed their first undefeated season since 1970 when the Generals last won a state title. Larry Ware rushed for 187 yards on 48 carries and a touchdown to lead Lee. Jess Lanier quarterback Mike McCraw threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Collier that tied the game 7-7 in the second quarter.

          Jimmy Tuley put Lee ahead 10-7 with a 29-yard field goal in the third period, then capped off the scoring with another field goal in the fourth quarter.

          Lee had 331 yards of total offense and held Lanier to only 179 yards, including only three possessions in the second half.

          Running back Larry Ware rushed for 2,111 yards and scored a state record 34 touchdowns during the 1986 football season.

          He was named Class 6A player of the year for his efforts in leading the Generals to a perfect record. Kennedy Mitchell at his defensive tackle position was a mainstay on the Lee defense his junior and senior seasons.

Front Entrance of Lee High School in Montgomery
          The 1987 and 1988 teams won region titles before going up against one of the best teams in Alabama high school football history in the Vigor Wolves during the playoffs. The Generals came up short both seasons against the Wolves losing in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the playoffs.

          In 1990 the 8-6 record is a bit deceiving on the surface. The Generals played a schedule that included several southeastern powerhouses in Valdosta, GA, Pascagoula, MS, Central Tuscaloosa and Jess Lanier. They lost five games during the regular season before getting on a roll in the playoffs. They eventually lost to Murphy in the semi-finals and finished with an 8-6 record.

          The 1991 team lost only to a very good Valdosta, GA team and rolled to a state championship with a 14-7 victory over Central Tuscaloosa. The team finished with a 13-1 record and a #20 ranking in the final USA Today poll.

          In the championship game, Fred Gadson caught two touchdown passes from Matt Gaines as Robert E. Lee defeated Central Tuscaloosa 14-7 at Legion Field. Gaines completed 5-of-9 passes for 120 yards and the two second quarter touchdowns were all the Generals needed for the win. Central got its only touchdown by driving the ball 80 yards on the Falcons first possession of the game.

      Lonzell Gowdy scored on a one-yard run to give Central the early 7-0 lead. Gowdy would end the game with 175 yards rushing and complete 8-of-16 passes for 105 yards. He also caught a pass for another 26 yards to finish with 307 total yards. It was not enough as the General defense rose up to stop the Falcons at the five-yard line late in the game to clinch the win.

          The 1992 team repeated with another title by defeating Hewitt-Trussville 14-0 in the title game. Their only loss was to Central Tuscaloosa during the regular season on a fluke fumble return. The Generals ended the season ranked again by the USA Today holding down the #23 spot in the final poll with a 13-1 record.

          In the championship game, Andre Hall returned a blocked punt 39 yards for a touchdown as Lee defeated Hewitt-Trussville for their second consecutive state title. Hall led all tacklers with 10 tackles and five assists and put the game away with the blocked punt in the third quarter.

          Hewitt-Trussville only managed to gain 77 total yards during the game and only threatened to score once when Rick Deerman recovered a fumble at the Lee 35-yard line early in the fourth quarter. A late hit call against the Generals placed the ball at the 15 but the Lee defense stopped a fake field goal attempt at the 20-yard line short of the first down. Lee held on for the 14-0 win.

          Fred Beasley, 6-1, 195 pounds, was considered a punishing runner for the Generals during the 1992 season. As a sophomore and a junior he had rushed for over 3,200 yards and scored 43 touchdowns. Beasley only played in 30 quarters during the 1993 season because of injuries. He carried the football 131 times for 801 yards as a senior that year. The total was far short of the consecutive 1,500 yard seasons he enjoyed the two previous championship seasons. Beasley finished his career with 3,894 rushing yards and a school record 62 touchdowns.

          Some of the star players from these teams included; Fred Beasley (Auburn), Larry Ware (Georgia), Ed Parks, Quentin Riggins (Auburn), Trevis Smith (Auburn), Ralph Hughes, Jim Tuley and Kennedy Mitchell.

          McCracken stepped down following the 1994 season at Lee to take over the football program at Opelika High School. He became the head coach and athletic director at Opelika in the fall of 1995 where he has the distinction of being the winningest coach at both Opelika and Lee.



Lee Montgomery 1986-1993
Year Record Championship Game
1986 15-0 Lee Montgomery 13-7 Jess Lanier
1987 12-1  
1988 11-3  
1989 10-2  
1990 8-6  
1991 13-1 Lee Montgomery 14-7 Central Tuscaloosa
1992 13-1 Lee Montgomery 14-0 Hewitt-Trussville
1993 10-1  


Robert E. Lee Montgomery
1986

28 Carver Montgomery . . . 14
30 Vigor . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
36 Dothan . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
49 Enterprise . . . . . . . . 21
71 Tuskegee Institute . . 12
46 Prattville . . . . . . . . 7
38 Christian County KY . . 0
17 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 3
28 Central Tuscaloosa . . 14
29 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 0
38 Selma * . . . . . . . . . . . 14
21 Carver Montgomery * . . 0
13 Opelika * . . . . . . . . . 2
26 Vigor * . . . . . . . . . . . 14
13 Jess Lanier # . . . . . 7

483 15-0 126
1987

36 Carver Montgomery . . . 10
20 Vigor . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
35 Dothan . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
28 Enterprise . . . . . . . . 14
35 Tuskegee Institute . . 8
51 Prattville . . . . . . . . 7
37 Apopka FL . . . . . . . . . 0
20 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 7
31 Central Tuscaloosa . . 0
28 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 16
31 Carver Montgomery * . . 6
42 B.C. Rain * . . . . . . . 0
14 Vigor * . . . . . . . . . . . 28

408 12-1 133
1988

22 Jess Lanier . . . . . . . 12
28 Tift County GA . . . . . 0
36 Clarke Central GA . . . 7
38 Enterprise . . . . . . . . 7
35 Carver Montgomery . . . 8
7 Central Tuscaloosa . . 10
44 Apopka FL . . . . . . . . . 28
14 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 28
20 Prattville . . . . . . . . 3
44 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 3
20 Jeff Davis * . . . . . . 17
24 Enterprise * . . . . . . 14
24 Carroll * . . . . . . . . . 3
0 Vigor * . . . . . . . . . . . 14

356 11-3 154
1989

21 Jess Lanier . . . . . . . 0
27 Tift County GA . . . . . 10
21 Clarke Central GA . . . 17
28 Pascagoula MS . . . . . 13
24 Carver Montgomery . . . 6
35 Central Tuscaloosa . . 14
15 Washington FL . . . . . 16
13 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 0
14 Prattville . . . . . . . . 7
22 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 15
28 Jeff Davis * . . . . . . 6
7 Carroll * . . . . . . . . . 10

255 10-2 114
1990

0 Jess Lanier . . . . . . . 7
13 Pascagoula MS . . . . . 16
31 Carver Montgomery . . . 6
0 Valdosta GA . . . . . . . 10
10 Washington FL . . . . . 40
16 Central Tuscaloosa . . 17
35 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 21
28 Anniston . . . . . . . . . . 22
10 Prattville . . . . . . . . 13
31 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 7
27 Benjamin Russell * . . 6
20 Jeff Davis * . . . . . . 17
17 Prattville * . . . . . . 14
7 Murphy * . . . . . . . . . . 14

245 8-6 210
1991

24 Jess Lanier . . . . . . . 21
21 Pascagoula MS . . . . . 0
38 Carver Montgomery . . . 15
3 Valdosta GA . . . . . . . 17
34 Central Tuscaloosa . . 23
43 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 22
28 Anniston . . . . . . . . . . 17
14 Prattville . . . . . . . . 7
55 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 7
41 Anniston * . . . . . . . . 0
17 Opelika * . . . . . . . . . 14
16 Prattville * . . . . . . 0
21 Shaw * . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
14 Central Tuscaloosa # . 7

369 13-1 150
1992

35 Carver Montgomery . . . 6
31 Pascagoula MS . . . . . 13
42 Greenville . . . . . . . . 7
69 B.T. Washington . . . . 0
38 Gadsden . . . . . . . . . . . 14
14 Central Tuscaloosa . . 17
28 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 0
31 Prattville . . . . . . . . 3
31 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 7
30 Talladega * . . . . . . . 7
25 Opelika * . . . . . . . . . 18
17 Anniston * . . . . . . . . 15
24 Vigor * . . . . . . . . . . . 7
14 Hewitt-Trussville # . . 0

429 13-1 114
1993

34 Carver Montgomery . . . 20
34 Pascagoula MS . . . . . 12
32 Greenville . . . . . . . . 7
28 B.T. Washington . . . . 0
31 Gadsden . . . . . . . . . . . 7
24 Central Tuscaloosa . . 21
21 Jeff Davis . . . . . . . . 16
17 Prattville . . . . . . . . 3
40 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 14
42 Talladega * . . . . . . . 0
14 Enterprise * . . . . . . 21

317 10-1 121

* Playoff game
# State championship game




          NEXT: Hoover Bucs 2000-2013
          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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