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  School Football over the past 100 seasons.






Dynasties 


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          The city of Tallassee is located in Elmore County on the Tallapoosa River. It thrived as a cotton mill town before and after the Civil War. During the war the Confederate army moved the Richmond Carbine Factory from Virginia to an old Tallassee cotton mill. After the war farmers returned to their crops and life settled down for the small town.

          That is until football was introduced to the town in a big way with the arrival of John Edward "Hot" O'Brien in 1936. Coach O'Brien's teams won and won consistently.

          The Tallassee Tigers arguably own one of the most prestigious winning streaks in Alabama high school football history. Over the course of seven seasons they pilled up an amazing record of 57-0-1. Beginning in 1941 the Tigers, under the direction of Hall of Fame coach O'Brien, became a legend not only in Alabama but across the nation. The town supported the team and coach during this time like no other school had before.

          The 1941 team was led on the field by another hall of fame coach, Tom Jones, who later became known for his great teams at Lee High School in Montgomery during the 1950 and 60s. In 1941 Jones was a standout player for the Tigers. As a senior, he played in the first six games of the winning streak.

          It all began on October 10, 1941. The previous week the Tigers had fallen to Phenix City in a close game 7-0 and no one knew what lay on the horizon for these Tigers from central Alabama. The next week Tallassee defeated Eufaula and the streak was on. The Tigers only allowed two more touchdowns in 1941 and disposed of six more foes.

          In 1942, Tallassee finished 8-0 allowing just one team to cross the goal line and that came against Valley when Askew, for the Rams, returned the second half kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown. No other team was able to score on the defense that season as the Tigers rolled up 252 point.

          The 1943 season proved to be much of the same as the Tigers rolled over eight more opponents and outscored them 253-19 shutting out seven foes along the way.

          In 1944, Tallassee suffered the only blemish on their streak when a Wetumpka team came to town on a muddy, sloppy field. While a 0-0 tie with their cross-county rival was not a win, it was enough to keep the undefeated streak alive. The bigger Wetumpka team dressed out 70-80 players while coach O'Brien had 27 boys to chose from that evening.

          The years passed and the Tigers continued to win. The biggest game may have been November 15, 1946 when the Tigers traveled to Montgomery to take on the Sidney Lanier Poets. Lanier was the largest school in the state at the time and enrolled six times as many students as did Tallassee. The Tigers walked out of the Cramton Bowl that evening with a 12-0 victory and the streak continued.



                                                               Tallassee High School

          The 1946 team was led by all-state players Davis Melton who played end and halfback Bobby Holmes. The streak began to receive national attention as it grew. Newspapers from across the country picked up the story and ran articles about it. A Wausau, Wisconsin newspaper disputed the streak as being the nation's longest claiming a local schools had won more games.

          A Washington state newspaper ran the story once the streak reached 53 games. A Lawrence, Kansas paper ran a story asking if anyone could top the mark set by the Tigers when it reached fifty games.

          The Tigers reached a milestone against Eufaula on Oct. 3, 1947 when they not only won the game but eclipsed the national record for most games without a defeat. The streak had reached a total of 53 consecutive games and bested the old record held by Massillon, Ohio. Massillon was coached by Paul Brown who would later coach the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals before entering the NFL hall of fame.

          The streak finally came to an end in the Cramton Bowl on November 14, 1947 when the Lanier Poets defeated the Tigers 21-7. Halfback Sid Coleman scored two touchdowns and passed for a third to put an end to one of the longest streaks in high school football history.

          During the streak Tallassee averaged an amazing 30.4 points a game and allowed only 2.7 while shutting out 39 of their 57 opponents. Coach O'Brien once said "The key to our success was unity."

          Coach "Hot" O'Brien would become a legend in this small town. He had gotten his nickname at Birmingham Southern while playing basketball. During a close game with Howard College some fan kept yelling "get hot, O'Brien, get hot!" A sportswriter covering the game when writing the story stated that O'Brien did get hot and the name stuck.

          He would remain at Tallassee through the 1952 season and finish with a 120-29-7 record. After his retirement he became the principle of the school for three years before retiring and taking up golf which he played everyday until his health failed. John Edward O'Brien passed away Jan. 18, 1977 in Tallassee.



Tallassee Tigers     1941-47
Year Record Points Allowed
1941 8-1 169 26
1942 8-0 252 6
1943 8-0 253 19
1944 8-0-1 284 25
1945 9-0 373 25
1946 9-0 255 33
1947 9-1 232 66



Tallassee
1941

20 Holtville . . . . . . . . . 6
21 Charles Henderson . . . 0
0 Central Phenix City . . 7
20 Eufaula . . . . . . . . . . . 0
14 Andalusia . . . . . . . . . 0
12 Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
43 Robertsdale . . . . . . . 0
13 Alexander City . . . . . 7
26 Opelika . . . . . . . . . . . 0

169 8-1 26
1942

31 Holtville . . . . . . . . . 0
32 Dadeville . . . . . . . . . 0
19 Central Phenix City . . 0
30 Eufaula . . . . . . . . . . . 0
26 Lanett . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
31 Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
39 Wetumpka . . . . . . . . . . 0
44 Alexander City . . . . . 0

252 8-0 6
1943

25 Auburn . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
12 Dadeville . . . . . . . . . 0
60 Holtville . . . . . . . . . 0
57 Lanett . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
20 Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
34 Wetumpka . . . . . . . . . . 0
19 Alexander City . . . . . 0
26 Eufaula . . . . . . . . . . . 19

253 8-0 19
1944

27 Dadeville . . . . . . . . . 0
0 Wetumpka . . . . . . . . . . 0
32 Holtville . . . . . . . . . 0
12 Lanett . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
14 Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
42 Hurt Military Academy . 12
47 Alexander City . . . . . 0
38 Eufaula . . . . . . . . . . . 0
72 Lineville . . . . . . . . . 7

284 8-0-1 25
1945

32 Dadeville . . . . . . . . . 6
39 Wetumpka . . . . . . . . . . 0
46 Holtville . . . . . . . . . 0
50 Lanett . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
18 Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
49 Hurt Military Academy . 0
44 Alexander City . . . . . 0
48 Eufaula . . . . . . . . . . . 6
47 Charles Henderson . . . 0

373 9-0 25
1946

12 Dadeville . . . . . . . . . 6
13 Central Phenix City . . 6
58 Holtville . . . . . . . . . 0
41 Lanett . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
13 Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
26 Opelika . . . . . . . . . . . 0
35 Alexander City . . . . . 14
45 Eufaula . . . . . . . . . . . 7
12 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 0

255 9-0 33
1947

19 B.B. Comer . . . . . . . . 0
19 Auburn . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
59 Southern Industrial . . 0
12 Eufaula . . . . . . . . . . . 7
46 Lanett . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
13 Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
12 Opelika . . . . . . . . . . . 0
25 Alexander City . . . . . 6
7 Sidney Lanier . . . . . 21
20 Central Phenix City . . 14

232 9-1 66

* Playoff game
# State championship game




          NEXT: Prattville Lions 2001-2011
          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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