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          Tensions on both sides were a little on edge as the game approached. It matched Parker, a predominately Black school just a stones throw from Legion Field against the upper middle class school from Vestavia Hills.

          The Vestavia Hills players had been warned to keep their rebel flag on their side of the field and the school decided not the play Dixie during the bands' halftime performance. As it turned out the only tension was on the field between two teams fighting for a state championship. The players on both teams were playing to win. They did not care who the opponent was on this day.
 
          Lance Gulledge put Vestavia ahead in the second quarter on a 5-yard run but the extra point was blocked and the Rebels took a 6-0 lead into intermission. Lance Gulledge had back to back 25-yard runs during the 69 yard drive.

          Parker came back in the third to mount a drive covering 72 yards that culminated in a Alan Plump 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Roderick Washington. The extra point was missed and the score was tied 6-6 with eight minutes to go in the third.

          Vestavia came right back on a 64-yard scoring drive to take a 12-6 lead with just 54 second left in the third. Lance Gulledge covered the last yard for the touchdown. A pass for the two point conversion fell incomplete but the Rebels led 12-6.

          Vestavia missed a 35-yard field goal early in the fourth period and Parker was on the move again. The Thundering Herd moved 80 yards for a touchdown. Washington hit Cedric Ervin on a 11-yard scoring pass to give Parker a 13-12 lead with 7:20 remaining in the game.

          The Parker celebration was short lived as the Rebels answered with a long drive that ended with a Danny Pritchard 17-yard field goal with just 2:55 left in the game to give Vestavia a 16-13 lead.

           Not accepting defeat, the Bison converted a fourth down pass before Vestavia put an end to their title hopes with an interception with 51 seconds left. The Vestavia fans celebrated a state championship after falling short the past two seasons in the championship game.

           Over 25,000 fans attended the game on a beautiful sunny day in Birmingham. All were well behaved and the anticipated problems never arose. The Vestavia defense collect five interceptions during the game and held Parker to just 233 yards of total offense. Gulledge led all runners with 121 yards on 23 carries and was named the MVP for Vestavia. Washington completed 11 of 24 passes for 137 yards and won MVP honors for Parker.

           The Rebels reached the state championship game again in 1998 capping off a perfect 15-0 season for the second title. Parker has not made a return visit to the title game since their magical 1980 season.




Vestavia Hills ....................   0   6   0   9 -15
Parker ................................   0   0   6   7 -13
 
Vestavia: Lance Gulledge 5 yard run (PAT blocked)
Parker: Alan Plump 8 yard pass from Roderick Washington (PAT no good) 8:38
Vestavia: Lance Gulledge 1 yard run (pass failed) 0:54
Parker: Ervin 11 yard pass from Roderick Washington (Rogers PAT) 7:20
Vestavia: Danny Pritchard 17 yard field goal 2:55


Vestavia Hills
1980

8/30 28 Mountain Brook . . . . . 14
9/5 12 Walker . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
9/19 35 Gadsden . . . . . . . . . . . 7
9/26 42 Bradshaw . . . . . . . . . . 6
10/3 7 Berry Birmingham . . . 14
10/10 26 John Carroll . . . . . . 0
10/17 14 Homewood . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/24 28 Carver Montgomery . . . 7
10/31 23 Shades Valley . . . . . 0
11/7 28 Talladega . . . . . . . . . 0
11/14 7 Berry Birmingham * . . 0
11/21 13 Banks * . . . . . . . . . . . 3
11/28 14 Grissom * . . . . . . . . . 3
12/5 15 Parker # . . . . . . . . . . 13

292 13-1 73

* Playoff game
# State championship game
Parker
1980

8/29 25 Phillips Birmingham . . 0
9/4 3 Banks . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
9/11 27 Carver Birmingham . . . 0
9/20 23 Jackson-Olin . . . . . . 0
9/25 54 Ensley . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/2 24 Hayes . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/10 19 West End Birmingham . . 26
10/17 47 Wenonah . . . . . . . . . . . 6
10/23 54 Glenn . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
10/31 41 Jones Valley . . . . . . 12
11/14 32 Lee Montgomery * . . . 0
11/21 34 West End Birmingham * . 7
11/28 20 Enterprise * . . . . . . 7
12/5 13 Vestavia Hills # . . . 15

416 12-2 85

* Playoff game
# State championship game



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

David Parker
  AHSFHS.org
  dparker@ahsfhs.org



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