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  School Football over the past 100 seasons.





Amazing Seasons 


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          When Nathaniel Kelly took over the head coaching duties at Akron, the Rams had won little in the previous thirty years. As a matter of fact they finished just three seasons between 1945-1973 with a winning record. Coach Kelly's first team finished with a 1-8 record but over the past five seasons they have begun to learn how to win on a consistent basis as each team won more than they lost. 

          The 1980 Akron Rams entered the season with high hopes of competing for a playoff spot. The Rams had only reached the post season on one other occasion in 1978 when they lost in the second round. The preseason Birmingham News poll did not have the Rams on their list of top ten teams.

          Coach Kelly had eight returning lettermen and plenty of experience. Sophomore quarterback Garey Waiters returned after throwing for over 2,500 yards and tossing 25 touchdown passes. The schedule was tough as there were only three Class 1A teams on the slate. The rest were 2A and 3A schools. It would be difficult to maneuver this schedule for the small 1A school.


  West Blocton 7   0   0   7   14  
  Akron 12   6   6   6   30  

          Quarterback Garey Waiters tossed three touchdown passes to lead the Rams over West Blocton in the season opener 30-14 on a Thursday night in Akron. Walters completed just four passes but they went for 193 yards and three scores. Sidney Byrd caught two of the passes for 73 and 75 yard touchdowns and Carl Jeffrey caught one for 19 yards.

         Jeffrey returned the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to get the year off to a good start. The Rams jumped out to an 18-7 halftime lead and kept the pressure on West Blocton with the big plays in the second half.


  Hale County 0   8   0   8   16  
  Akron 0   21   6   14   41  

          After a week off, Akron defeated Hale County 41-16 at home. Jeffery scored on a 72-yard punt return as Akron opened up a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Waiters passed for 226 yards and two touchdowns in the win. The only scores for Hale County came on a blocked punt and a 70-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter. 


  Akron 21   18   6   8   53  
  Marion Military 0   0   0   0   0  

          The Rams routed the Marion Military Tigers in week three 53-0 behind two touchdown passes from Waiters. He also ran for two other scores as the Rams built a 39-0 lead by intermission. Carl Jeffery scored on a 60-yard run and Edward Winn got in on the action with a 45-yard scamper to wrap up the scoring.


  Akron         66  
  Sunshine         8  

          After the impressive win over Marion, the Rams made their debut as the No. 9 team in the Class 1A rankings. The next week, Akron romped over Sunshine 66-8 to run their record to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in Area 13. They jumped to No. 7 in the weekly poll by the Birmingham News.


  Akron 0   14   0   12   26  
  Carrollton 0   7   0   0   7  

          Akron defeated always tough Carrollton 26-7 the next week to move to 2-0 in Area 13 play. The Rams only led 14-7 as the teams opened the fourth quarter but scored two touchdowns late to put the game out of reach. The defense held Carrollton to just one first down in the second half to keep the Indians out of the end zone after a second quarter score.


  County 0   0   0   0   0  
  Livingston 23   13   7   0   43  

          The Rams shutout 3A Livingston 43-0 for win number five. They jumped out to a 36-0 halftime lead and coasted in the second half as the defense continued to play great. They held Livingston to just 78 yards of total offense. The defense actually got in on the scoring with two interception returns for scores.

          Jeffery caught a 70-yard pass from Waiters to get the scoring going. Herbert Burrell returned a blocked punt 20 yards for a score and after David West and Jimmy Hayes returned interceptions for touchdowns, the Rams led 30-0 in the second quarter.


  Akron 20   13   6   8   47  
  Northside 0   8   0   0   8  

          Northside fell 47-8 the next week as Akron scored at will against the helpless Northside defense. They jumped out to a 33-8 lead by intermission and kept the pressure up all evening in the rain. Akron scored in two plays after recovering an onside opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead. Sidney Byrd returned a punt 60 yards a few minutes later for the second score and returned the second half kickoff to the Northside three to set up yet another touchdown. 

          Jeffery wrapped up the scoring by returning a punt 68 yards for a touchdown. The only thing that kept the score from being greater was the fact that the scorekeeper did not stop the clock in the second half by mutual agreement. 


  John Essex 0   0   0   0   0  
  Akron 16   27   6   8   49  

          The Rams clinched a playoff spot and the Area 13 championship with a 49-0 shutout of John Essex the next week. The offense rolled up 380 yard and the defense held John Essex to just 127 yards and five first downs. Waiters completed 13-of-16 passes for 238 yards and a couple of touchdowns to Jimmy Hayes to pace the offense as they rolled to a 43-0 halftime lead.


  Akron 8   8   13   15   44  
  Greensboro 0   0   0   14   14  

          Akron closed out the regular season with a 44-14 win over Greensboro. After Leading 16-0 on two touchdown passes from Waiters to Hayes, the offense exploded for four second half touchdowns. Waiters led an offense that rolled up 437 total yards against the Class 3A team. He completed 12-of-24 passes for 262 yards and the two scores. The defense intercepted five passes and recovered two fumbles in the rout.

          The Akron Rams ended the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record and ranked No. 4 in the Class 1A poll. It was time for a playoff run like the Akron fans had never seen before. While it was their second playoff appearance they had never advanced past the second round.


  Berry 0   0   0   6   6  
  Akron 14   16   7   7   44  

          After a week off, the Rams opened the playoffs against Berry from Fayette County. The Rams jumped out to a 14-0 lead just four minutes into the game and upped it to 30-0 by halftime on their way to a 44-6 win. Waiters threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns in the rout. Jimmy Hayes also scored four touchdowns. The win gave the Rams a 10-0 record for the first time in the school's history.


  Parrish 0   0   0   0   0  
  Akron 6   9   6   23   44  

          Carl Jeffery caught three touchdown passes as the Rams rolled over Parrish 44-0 in the second round of the playoffs. He caught scoring passes of 16, 90 and 42 yards from Waiters and returned an interception 97 yards for another touchdown. David Ward also scored on a 30-yard interception return in the fourth quarter. Waiters threw for 277 yards to lead the offensive attack.


  Akron 0   6   12   8   26  
  Madison Academy 0   7   6   8   21  

          The Rams continued their torrid run with a 26-21 win over Madison Academy in the semi-finals of the playoffs. Waiters completed 15-of-33 passes for 369 yards to riddle the Mustang's defense with passes. The win did not come easy for the Rams as they trailed much of the game but came back after each Madison Academy score.

          The Mustangs got on the scoreboard first for a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. It was the first time all season the Rams had trailed in a game. After falling behind, the Rams came back to score in two plays on a 85-yard bomb from Waiters to Jeffery to cut the lead to 7-6 at the half.

          In the third, Akron scored on a 13-yard pass from Waiters to Sidney Byrd to take a 12-7 lead. Madison Academy came back to take a 13-12 lead on a 92-yard drive with six minutes left in the third. Waiters again found Byrd on a 34-yard scoring pass just three minutes later as the Rams retook the lead 18-13.

         Madison Academy scored on a short run with 2:50 remaining in the game to take a 21-18 lead. In a do-or-die situation, the Rams drove 60 yards and scored on a Waiters to Byrd pass that covered 15 yards. The two point conversion was good and the Rams led 26-21 with just 1:15 to play.


  Akron 6   12   0   8   26  
  McKenzie 6   0   0   14   20  

          The Akron Rams were moving on to the 1980 Class 1A state championship game against McKenzie. The game was played in McKenzie but it mattered little as the Rams were glad to make the trip.

          Trailing 20-18 with 2:57 remaining in the game and 80 yards from a touchdown, Akron calmly marched down the field for the winning score. Quarterback Carey Waiters hit Jimmy Hayes on a 13-yard touchdown with just 1:32 remaining in the game for the win.

          McKenzie did not give up after the score and came right back to drive the football down to the Akron 9-yard line. With no time outs remaining, quarterback Darrell Rudolph was stopped short of the goal line on the final play of the game.

          Jimmy Hayes had two receptions for 108 yards during the game to pace Akron. After leading 18-6 at halftime, Akron almost let the game get away from them when McKenzie scored twice on short runs by Remus Davison. The last came with just 2:57 remaining in the game.

          The 1980 Akron Rams did something no other team has done in the school's history. They finished 13-0 and won a state championship. The schedule was brutal but behind Garey Waiters, the Rams navigated it with relative ease on their way to a championship.

          Sophomore quarterback Garey Waiters was named to the second team all-state team along with receiver Carl Jeffery as a wide receiver who was selected to the first team squad.




Akron
1980

8/28 30 West Blocton . . . . . . 14
9/5 OPEN . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9/12 41 Hale County . . . . . . . 16
9/19 53 Marion Military Institute . 0
9/26 66 Sunshine . . . . . . . . . . 8
10/3 26 Carrollton . . . . . . . . 7
10/10 43 Livingston . . . . . . . . 0
10/17 47 Northside . . . . . . . . . 8
10/24 49 John Essex . . . . . . . . 0
10/31 44 Greensboro . . . . . . . . 14
11/14 44 Berry Fayette * . . . . 6
11/21 44 Parrish * . . . . . . . . . 0
11/28 26 Madison Academy * . . . 21
12/5 26 McKenzie # . . . . . . . . 20

539 13-0 114

* Playoff game
# State championship game





Amazing Seasons, a series on the greatest seasons in high school football history


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