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  School Football over the past 100 seasons.





Amazing Seasons 


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           The Sidney Lanier Poets, coached by Bobby Wilson, will go down in the record books as the first official state champions for high school football in Alabama. 1966 was the first season the AHSAA used a playoff system to determine the championship.

           It was only fitting that one of the oldest and most storied programs in the state would play in the first title game.

           In the first round, Lanier defeated Shades Valley 47-7 and Lee routed Huntsville 46-7 to set up a rematch of a regular season game between the two Montgomery football powerhouses. 

Head football Coach Bobby Wilson


  Lanier 0   0         7  
  Parrish 20   13         49  

           The Sidney Lanier Poets opened the 1966 football season with a 49-7 victory over the Parrish Rams in Selma. The win avenged a 6-0 loss to the Rams last season. Junior fullback, Jimmy Lowder scored two touchdowns to lead the Poets.

           The starters played less than a half, leaving after Lanier took a 33-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half.


  Tuscaloosa 0   0   0   0   0  
  Lanier 0   0   3   7   10  

           The next week, Lanier hosted the Tuscaloosa Black Bears in what turned out to be a defensive struggle. After a scoreless first half, Lowder returned an interception to the 44-yard line but the Bears' defense held and Lanier was forced to punt. Tuscaloosa fumbled the punt return and the football was recovered by Glenn Bowron.

           The Poets picked up one first down and Randy Moore booted a 34-yard field goal to put the Poets ahead 3-0. The next time Lanier got their hands on the football Lowder broke through the defense on his way to a 56-yard touchdown. Lanier led 10-0 and the score held up with brilliant play from the defense and the Speigner brothers.


  Phillips 0   0   0   0   0  
  Lanier 14   7   7   7   35  

           Lanier won their third straight game behind the running attack of Lowder, Chris Wanzer and Jimmy Rhodes. The Poets crushed Phillips high school from Birmingham at the Cramton Bowl. Wanzer ran for a 14-yard touchdown and caught scoring passes of 10 and 69 yards from quarterback Mike Kelley.

           Rhodes raced 40 yards for a third quarter score and backup quarterback, Pete Wilson, scored the final TD on a sneak from the one-yard line in the fourth quarter. Sam Gellerstedt led the defense by recovering three Red Raider fumbles in the game.


  Leon 7   0   0   0   7  
  Lanier 7            40  

           Leon high school from Tallahassee, FL came to Montgomery in hopes of beating the Poets as they had last season. Instead they ran into a great defense and an explosive offense. Lanier ran away with the game in a 40-7 beat down of the Florida school. The Poets scored first on a Kelley to Jack Herring 7-yard pass.

           Leon came back to tie the score at 7-7 before the defense shut them out the remainder of the game. Wanzer scored early in the second to put Lanier ahead for good on a 2-yard run. Mike Kelley threw for four touchdowns with Herring catching two of the aerials. Wanzer returned a punt 55 yards for another score. The defense did their part by holding Leon to just 56 yards rushing in the game.


  Ramsay 0   0   0   0   0  
  Lanier 0            14  

           Ramsay came to town next and faced the same result as the first three teams. The Poets shutout the Rams 14-0 for their fifth win of the season.           


  Tuscaloosa County 0   0   0   7   7  
  Lanier 19   14   13   0   46  

           The Tuscaloosa County Wildcats were beaten 46-7 as Lanier took advantage of the mistakes made by the Wildcats. Lowder scored on a 67-yard run on the first play from scrimmage to give Lanier an early 7-0 lead.

           The offense rolled up 305 yards rushing and 383 yards of total offense. The defense recovered five fumbles that led directly to touchdowns by the Poets offense. They also intercepted three passes in the rout.


  Lanier             57  
  Murphy 0   0   0   0   0  

           Following five home games, the Poets traveled to Mobile to take on the Murphy Panthers. The game was no contest as the Poets thrashed the Panthers 57-0 at Ladd Stadium. Lowder scored four touchdowns and sophomore Randy Moore booted a 45-yard field goal. The defense was stellar as they had been all season.


  Davidson 0   0   0   0   0  
  Lanier             48  

           The Davidson Warrior came to the Cramton Bowl for homecoming in 1966. Lanier mistreated their visitors by beating them 48-0 for their fifth shutout of the season. Wanzer got the first touchdown on an 82-yard punt return to get the Poets off to a good start. From there the defense held the Davidson offense in track most of the game. The Warriors reached the Lanier 5-yard line in the third quarter before the defense rose up for a stop.


  Dothan 0   7   0   0   7  
  Lanier 7   7   7   7   28  

           The Dothan Tigers were up next on the schedule and gave the Poets an early scare before falling 28-7 in the Cramton Bowl. Lanier scored first on a 35-yard pass from Kelley to Gary Coats. Dothan came back to tie the score when a Wanzer punt was blocked. Lanier wasted little time in regaining the lead as Lowder scored on a 42-yard run. In the fourth quarter, the defense got in on the action when Buddy Mesaris picked up a loose ball and returned it for a touchdown.


  Lee 0   0   0   0   0  
  Lanier 0   3   7   0   10  

           For the first time in five years, Lanier defeated the Lee Generals in the last game of the regular season. Randy Moore booted a 27-yard field goal in the first half to give the Poets a 3-0 lead. Kelley threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rhodes to give Lanier all the points they needed in a big 10-0 win against an undefeated Lee team. It was the sixth shutout of the season for the Poets' defense.


  Shades Valley             7  
  Lanier             47  

           The Poets dominated the Shades Valley Mounties in the first round of the new state playoffs. Chris Wanzer scored two touchdowns to lead the Lanier offense. The Poets won the all-important semi-final game to set up a rematch with the Lee Generals in the first ever state championship game.


  Lee 0   0   7   0   7  
  Lanier 0   9   0   0   9  

           Defense was front and center from the opening kickoff of the title game as both teams kept the opposing offenses in check most of the game. Lanier scored first as Mike Kelly completed a 5 yard pass to Danny Speigner in the end zone for a second quarter touchdown.

           A few minutes later, Lanier capitalized on a Lee mistake and Randy Moore kicked a 32-yard field goal for the 9-0 halftime advantage. The Generals mounted a comeback in the third period when Traylor completed a 50-yard pass to Terry Beasley to the Lanier 8-yard line. Fullback Jerry Fontaine scored from the one yard line a few plays later. Lee threatened again moments later when Traylor once again tried to hit Beasley near the goal line but the ball skipped through his hands and was intercepted.

            The General's defense held Lanier and force a punt giving them another shot at winning but another interception by Jimmy Rhodes thwarted the drive. The Poets mounted a drive that almost ran out the clock before giving up the ball allowing the Generals one final shot at the title. With only a few seconds remaining in the game, the Generals attempted a 55 yard field goal that was missed but an offsides penalty against Lanier gave them another shot at the field goal. 

           The final try was missed also and the game was over. More than 25,000 fans poured into the Cramton Bowl to get a glimpse at the first state championship game and left knowing they had seen the two best teams in the state battle it out for the title.

          Named to the 1966 Birmingham News first team all-state squad were end Danny Speigner, guard Jimmy Speigner and guard Sam Gellerstedt. Junior running back Jimmy Lowder was selected to the honorable mention team.

           The Sidney Lanier Pots never trailed in a game during the entire 1966 season. The team will also be remembered as one of the best ever in the history of high school football in Alabama.
         


Sidney Lanier
1966

9/9 49 Parrish Selma . . . . . 7
9/16 10 Tuscaloosa . . . . . . . . 0
9/22 35 Phillips Birmingham . . 0
9/30 40 Leon Tallahassee FL . . 7
10/7 14 Ramsay . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/14 46 Tuscaloosa County . . . 7
10/20 57 Murphy . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/28 48 Davidson . . . . . . . . . . 0
11/4 28 Dothan . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
11/11 10 Lee Montgomery . . . . . 0
11/25 47 Shades Valley * . . . . 7
12/2 9 Lee Montgomery # . . . 7

393 12-0 42

* Playoff game
# State championship game

1966   Sidney Lanier Poets
10 QB Pete Wilson Sr.   63 G Greg Carr Jr.
11 QB Withers Davis Jr.   64 G Sam Gellerstedt Sr.
15 QB Mike Kelley Sr.   65 G Wiley Richardson Jr.
18 QB Buddy Mesaris Jr.   66 G Tommy Lowder Jr.
20 HB John Henig Sr.   67 T Thomas Guthrie Jr.
21 HB Hans Hardin Jr.   68 T Harris McGough Sr.
22 HB Chris Wanzer Sr.   69 G Jon Long Jr.
25 HB John Burris Jr.   71 T Sparky Blase Jr.
29 FB Jimmy Lowder Jr.   72 T George Jeffcoat Jr.
30 HB Woody Bozeman Sr.   73 T Bill Schaum Jr.
31 FB Jerry Leachman Jr.   74 T Danny Speigner Sr.
34 WB Jimmy Rhodes Sr.   75 T Dan Reid Sr.
35 HB Bill Morrison Jr.   76 G Robert Crumpton Jr.
40 WB Scott Gellerstedt Jr.   77 T Charles Saliba Jr.
42 FB Pete Blackwell Sr.   78 T Pete Pummer Sr.
43 HB Phil Shinn Jr.   79 T Robbie Shiver Sr.
44 HB Rick Betz Jr.   80 E Jack Harrell Jr.
47 S Jim Arrington Jr.   81 E Jim Harmon Sr.
48 E Al Mosley Sr.   83 E Alec Spoon Jr.
50 C Glenn Bowron Jr.   84 E Sonny Cone Jr.
51 LB Jimmy Speigner Sr.   85 E Gary Coats Sr.
52 LB Steve Dennis Jr.   86 E Raymond Glasscock Jr.
53 C Bennie Boddie Jr.   87 E Jack Herring Sr.
54 C John McCarty Jr.   88 E Stan Trott Jr.
55 C Dow Walker Jr.   89 E Rodney Waltman Jr.
56 C Dan Dubina Jr.   90 E Jim Todd Sr.
57 C Walter Ashurst Jr.   91 E Greg Kuh Jr.
58 C John Robertson Jr.   92 G Billy Barton Sr.
60 T Joe Parker Sr.   93 E Jimmy Wick Jr.
61 G Jim Dowdy Sr.   94 G Ronnie Cain Jr.
62 G Eli Capilouto Sr.   95 E Glenn Williams Jr.





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


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