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  School Football over the past 100 seasons.





The Greatest Games


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           The 1984 game between Cordova and Phil Campbell will long be remembered for the controversy surrounding the game. The Alabama Supreme Court had to settle what the two teams could not on the football field.

            Cordova (5-0) entered the game as the second ranked team while the Bobcats (4-1) were ranked fifth on Class 3A. The game went back and forth the entire way including the last few minutes of the game.

           Phil Campbell led 18-17 with less than a minute remaining in the ballgame. The Bobcats fumbled and Cordova scored a touchdown and the extra point to take a 24-18 lead with 14 second left.
  
           After the ensuing kickoff, Phil Campbell scored on what was called a "layout pass" from Darryl Bates to Jim Bishop that covered 51 yards. The Bobcats had a 25-24 lead with just two seconds remaining. But it was still not over.

           Cordova returned the ensuing kickoff to the Phil Campbell 16 yard line and received a personal foul penalty that moved the ball half the distance to the goal. The penalty allowed the Blue Devils to attempt a field goal with no time left on the clock. The kick was good and it appeared Cordova had won the game. Not yet.

           A flag had been thrown on the play for illegal procedure and the Devils were moved back five yards. This time the kick was missed from 35 yards out. Finally there was a winner, or so most fans thought.

           The controversy came when Cordova's head football coach James O'Neil complained the layout pass from Bates to Bishop was illegal because the receiver was too far off the line of scrimmage. Coach O'Neil said the player lined up outside the line judge and was not an eligible receiver. A flag should have been thrown but it never was.

           O'Neil petitioned the Alabama High School Athletic Association to reverse the winning touchdown. As the AHSAA has always done, they refused to reverse the call on the field. AHSAA executive director Bubba Scott denied the protest on the grounds that the organization had never, nor would they ever, accept a protest based on an official's call on the field.

           Cordova then asked the AHSAA's Fifth District Legislative Council to throw out the final outcome and let the two teams replay the final 24 seconds of the game. The Council denied the appeal and the request to replay any portion of the game.

           Cordova officials then filed a suit in Walker County to have the score changed. Judge Horace Nation III ruled the play was illegal and the game officials should have called a penalty and nullified the play. The court awarded the win to the Blue Devils on Nov. 8, just one day before the playoff game was to be played.

          Head football coach, Mike Tice and the Phil Campbell officials decided to fight the ruling and filed their own suit in Franklin County. Early Friday morning, Judge John Jolly ruled that Phil Campbell won the game and he barred the AHSAA from removing them from the playoffs.

           The case then moved to the Alabama Supreme Court where both rulings were tossed and the game stood as it was played on the field with Phil Campbell winning 25-24. The court stated that the outcome of football games aren't decided in the courts.

           Shortly before noon, the court ruled "the Alabama High School Athletic Association is specifically empowered to determine what team goes to the playoffs."

           The ruling came just eight hours before the scheduled kickoff of the playoff game against Lamar County. The Lamar County Bulldogs had been watching film on both teams and preparing to play either of them. When the game finally was played, the Bulldogs defeated Phil Campbell 42-7 to finally resolve the whole issue.

           For their actions on and off the field, Cordova was placed on probation by the AHSAA. The loss knocked Cordova out of a chance for the state playoffs. They finished the season 9-1 but the single loss was critical and prevented them from participating in the post season.

           To this day, no court has overruled any decision made by the AHSAA regarding the outcome of a football game.



Phil Campbell
1984

8/31 14 Hamilton . . . . . . . . . . 41
9/7 27 Haleyville . . . . . . . . 23
9/14 14 Cherokee . . . . . . . . . . 7
9/21 38 Red Bay . . . . . . . . . . . 8
9/28 35 Lawrence County . . . . 14
10/5 25 Cordova . . . . . . . . . . . 24
10/12 30 Hackleburg . . . . . . . . 17
10/19 25 Winston County . . . . . 21
10/26 21 Sulligent . . . . . . . . . 0
11/2 0 Winfield . . . . . . . . . . 17
11/9 7 Lamar County * . . . . . 42

236 8-3 214

* Playoff game
Cordova
1984

8/31 9 Curry . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
9/7 14 Winfield . . . . . . . . . . 7
9/14 30 Springville . . . . . . . 6
9/21 28 Oakman . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
9/28 28 Parrish . . . . . . . . . . . 6
10/5 24 Phil Campbell . . . . . 25
10/12 14 Dora . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
10/19 40 Carbon Hill . . . . . . . 20
10/26 21 Winston County . . . . . 0
11/2 35 Fultondale . . . . . . . . 6

243 9-1 96

* Playoff 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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Great Moments in Alabama High School Football History

Collinsville completed the 1931 season with a record of 1-4-5. The five ties will forever be a state record since all games are now decided by overtime.