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The Greatest Games

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          The following article is reprinted from the Montgomery Advertiser dated Dec. 1, 1922. The author is unknown but it is similar to the style of writing that was common to the time. It is the first known game that decided a state championship in Alabama among the high school ranks.

1922 Walker County Football Team


Unbeaten Grid Warriors
From Mountains Are
Held Scoreless
Unusual Season Closes at
Cramton Bowl in Blaze
of Glory


    Sidney Lanier won the undisputed championship at Cramton Bowl Thursday afternoon by definitely and cleanly beating by superior play the Walker County high school, the remaining claimant for the title -- a team which has won the North Alabama championship even as Lanier has been recognized as the best team in North Alabama before the game. Lanier not only won the game comparative ease but it maintained another distinction -- her goal line was not crossed by a rival through the entire season. The score was Lanier 14; Walker County High 0.

    Walker County has the credit of playing Lanier her hardest game of the season. Yet to football observers the game was never in doubt after the first five minutes of play. The readiness and resourcefulness and above all else the fine football spirit of Lanier showed that a victory was certain after the first tow or three plays.

    The Mountaineers were much bigger than Lanier and they were fast too, and yet Lanier won the scores on line bucking. It was gossip, but not official on the sidelines that Walker averages 182 pounds to the man while Lanier only weighed 142 pounds to the man.

  Whenever the two teams lined up it looked as though a school boy team was playing a team of big college men. But the big men were fast in thought and in action. They succeeded in breaking up most of Lanier's forward passes. It is true that the Walker County forward passes were also being stopped, but it was the only team seen at Cramton Bowl this year that has stopped Lanier forward passing. And they halted Lanier's end runs -- a thing that has not been done before this season.

    On the other hand, the agile and alert Lanier team had but little trouble in meeting the heavier line of the Mountaineers and in clearly outplaying them in loose ball and open field playing. 

    The surprise of the evening was the way Lanier succeeded in her stabbing line plays.

    It was by means of these that one got her two scores and kept the ball all the afternoon in Walker's territory. Moreover she kept the Walker County boys in a continual state of alarm by threats to score.

    On four different occasions Walker rallied when her goal was in serious danger and was able to prove its strength by holding its ground or intercepting a forward pass.

    Lanier went on the field determined to take the game that alone stood between her and the championship. The boys on the team put everything they had into the game, their most valuable asset being the unconquerable spirit which has turned out a finished football team that went through the season without a score being made against it. The first eight minutes of gave a sample of the play throughout the afternoon. Walker won the toss and lined up heavy and big.

    The ball was kicked to Lanier's ten yard line and Willis brought it back twelve yards. Jernigan made the first of a number of spectacular runs by circling right end for a gain of two yards. Estes began his starring for the game by plunging over center for one yard. Walker held and Gregg made a splendid punt to Captain Sparks of the Mountaineers.

    Sparks was tackled and thrown by Kaminsky who seemed half his size. Walker tried a triple pass and Jimmy Gregg broke through and intercepted it and took the ball on Walker's 40 yard line. Lanier tried the line and was held. A forward pass was broken up. Gregg fell back and tried a field goal from the forty yard line, but the ball went a few feet wide.

    That was fair sample of the afternoon tugging line play that ended with the necessary punts at the end of three tries at the line. The Lanier followers sat back with a sigh of satisfaction.

    Lanier was holding the bigger and heavier line of the Mountaineers. It was only a question of time before the Montgomerians were going to score. But Walker was breaking up attempted end runs and what is more her heavy and big backs of the secondary defense were diving in and stopping the Lanier runner after he had broken through the first line.

    A score was threatened at the end of the first quarter. Gregg had punted to Walker's 21-yard line. The Mountaineers lined up and Sparks gained two yards on a line play. But Lanier held and Walker was again forced to punt the ball being caught on the 48-yard line. Kaminsky gained three yards then Estes, playing the best game of his career, gained ten yards on two line plays. Jernigan who was being worked hard, made a yard around left end. Two forward passes by Lanier were incomplete and Gregg punted to Walker County's twenty yard line, where the quarter ended without either side having scored.

    The scoring began early in the second quarter after Lanier's kickoff, with the ball in Walker's possession, Sparks failed to gain. After two savage attacks on the line Lollar punted and Gregg leaped in the air on Lanier's 35-yard line and aided by splendid interference ran through a broken field until he was forced out of bounds on Walker's 25-yard line.

    The ball was brought back and the two teams lined up again. Lanier went after the Walker line. Estes plunged through for five yards in two plays. Gregg gained the other five yards and made first down leaving the ball within one yard of the goal line. Estes was entrusted with the task of carrying it over. Working behind a modification of the old Auburn shift, Estes not only gained the one yard for a touchdown, but he took the ball five yards behind the line and Gregg kicked good.

    The second touchdown was achieved by Lanier at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Gregg gained two yards in a line play. On a similar play Jernigan was held.

    A forward pass, Gregg to Jernigan, gave Lanier first down and put the ball within scoring distance of Walker's goal.

    Some of the most thrilling plays of the game by both sides did not figure in the scoring. Lanier repeatedly carried the ball within the danger zone at Walker's goal, but the Mountaineers managed to hold and break up the forward passes that were intended for touchdowns.

    Walker was fortunate in having several big and fast backs. Some good scouting had been done for Walker for they divined most of the Lanier plays. South, at right half, probably played the best game for Walker. He was consistent in his game and he tackled heavily and surely. Sparks, the Walker captain, also put up a fine game in stopping line plays and in guessing what Lanier was going to do. Lollar did the punting for the Mountaineers and he got away all his tries.

     But the cold, unemotional statistics show that the best team won. Walker did not achieve a single first down and Lanier scored 15.

    The game was a brilliant wind-up of Lanier's season. The boys never played with more dash and courage than they put in the Walker County contest. They were not nervous at any period of the game and they never hesitated to throw themselves on the bigger Walker County players when the time came for action. The backfield seemed especially brilliant. Gregg met all expectation, and they were high on him. He went into the line head down for repeated downs, and he pulled off several dazzling runs through broken fields.

    Little Jernigan played a magnificent game in seizing several opportunities for skirting the ends and running back punts. Estes played the best game of his career on the team. He was depended upon for many of the line attacks and he figured in both touchdowns. And Kaminsky darted through the field on several occasions for runs that brought the spectators to their feet.

    The more spectacular and open play of the backfield detracted from the efficient and useful work for the forwards who had opened holes in the line of the Mountaineers and had interfered for the runners. Furman Stough played his last game for Lanier and made it one to be remembered. He opened the way again and again for a backfield plunger and he accounted for many a big Walker back by his interference.

    Patterson put up a good game and was especially affective in his tackling. Earl Willis was his ordinary self in quickness in breaking up plays and in tackling especially. Reeves put up a fearless and aggressive game against the heavier mountain boys and Pepperman and Stiver shone, if stars were being looked up. But Lanier won for the same reason that is has always won -- brainy football and coordination.

    The year that ended without a score being made on Lanier wound up a brilliant period of three years for the team. In playing prep school teams for three years Lanier has scored 771 points, while the score of all opponents of that class combined is only 44 points. Lanier ends this season with the finest football spirit that the school has ever shown.

    The game Saturday was played at Cramtom Bowl under ideal conditions for the spectators. The sun was a triffle warm for the players. The crowd was the largest that has yet seen a high school game at the bowl. Lanier's student body was enthusiastic and the cheering was the best of the season.

Line-up and summary
Sidney Lanier (14)                            Walker County (0)
Willis ......................... left end ............................ Piylar
Oliver ....................... left guard .......................... Kelly
Reeves ..................... left tackle ......................... Holiday
Patterson ...................... center .......................... B. Lollar
Holtzclaw ................... right tackle ..................... Bruce
Griffith .................... right guard ......................... Brown
Brunson ..................... right end ........................ Freeman
Jernigan ................... quarterback ..................... J. Lollar
Gregg (Capt.) .............. right halfback ................ Gibson
Kaminsky .................. left halfback ..................... South
Estes ........................ fullback .......................... Sparks (Capt.)
   Scores by quarter
Sidney Lanier .................... 0    7    0    7  --- 14 
Walker County .................. 0    0    0    0  ---   0
    Lanier scoring:   Touchdowns, Estes 2: goal from touchdown: Gregg 2.  
    Substitutions: Lanier -- Stiver for Reeves, Strough for Patterson, Reeves for Stiver, Turnipseed for Oliver, Oliver for Turnipseed, Pepperman for Willis, Willis for Pepperman, Stiver for Holtzclaw, Covey for Estes, Lutz for Oliver, B. O'Brien for Gregg, Patterson for Reeves, Lipman for Willis.
Walker -- Wilson for Bruce, B. Bruce for Brown, Legg for Gibson, T. Smith for Legg.
    Officials -- Referee, Spencer (Williams); umpire, Paterson (Auburn); head linesman, Jones (Alabama).
    Time: 15-12, 12-15.

Sidney Lanier

9/30 0 Alabama Freshmen . . . 21
10/6 13 Marbury . . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/13 35 Dinkins Military . . . 0
10/14 21 Troy State . . . . . . . . 0
10/21 43 Monroe County . . . . . 0
10/27 32 Wetumpka . . . . . . . . . . 0
11/3 26 Dadeville . . . . . . . . . 0
11/10 6 Bessemer . . . . . . . . . . 0
11/17 38 Andalusia . . . . . . . . . 0
11/24 41 Barton Academy . . . . . 0
11/30 14 Walker . . . . . . . . . . . 0

269 10-1 21

6 Tupelo Military Academy MS . 6
48 Shades Cahaba . . . . . 0
7 Winston County . . . . . 2
11/10 27 Lawrence County . . . . 7
19 Russellville . . . . . . 0
13 Cullman . . . . . . . . . . . 0
  52 Carbon Hill . . . . . . . 0
  27 Lawrence County . . . . 7
  19 Simpson . . . . . . . . . . . 0
11/25 13 Tuscaloosa . . . . . . . . 0
11/30 0 Sidney Lanier . . . . . . 14

231 9-1-1 36

  The Memorable Games, a series on the important and memorable games in high school football history

David Parker

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