Old scores, old friends can be fun
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Aug. 23, 2002
One of this summer's many projects was researching scores for football games involving area high schools since they began playing the fall pastime.
After touring much of the state from Laurel to Columbus, nearly every score for the schools in Lauderdale, Neshoba, and Newton counties is in my possession.
Throughout this fall, I'll be running columns about the highlights and lowlights of those teams. I didn't make the history, I just looked it up. Some columns will deal with coaches from these parts who had successful careers. They'll be getting a phone call in the near future for some input.
While researching, I ran into an old buddy, Ira Nutt. Nutt, for those who have never met this unique character, played football in the early 1950s without a helmet. Helmets had been invented then, Ira just didn't care to wear one. Then again, when football season was over, he spent the winter and spring months headbutting the goats on his farm just to pass the time.
In his youngers days, when someone asked, What's wrong with Ira,' the standard reply was, He's a Nutt.'
Nutt: "How many years have the Lauderdale County schools been playing football?"
MS: That's easy, my hard-headed friend. Northeast Lauderdale began its program in 1961, so the Trojans are entering their 42nd season this fall. The other three Clarkdale, Southeast Lauderdale, and West Lauderdale all began their programs in the fall of 1962, so those three are each beginning their 41st seasons.
Nutt: "Of their first 40 seasons, how many have been winning ones for Clarkdale, Southeast, and West. While you're at it, if it isn't too much trouble, how many has Northeast had?"
MS: I told you all the answers wouldn't be good ones, just correct ones. Clarkdale has had just six winning seasons in 40 years. The last time the Bulldogs finished over .500 was in 1982 when they went 6-5.
Northeast has had 15 winning seasons in 41 tries. The last time for the Trojans to stay above .500 was in 1990.
Southeast has finished above water in 18 of its previous 40 attempts.
Thanks to last year's 7-5 record, West has 13 winning years out of 40 tries. A forfeit by Kemper County enabled the Knights to finish 6-5 in 1998.
Nutt: "How many times have each school been to the state playoffs?"
MS: Thanks to last year's team, West Lauderdale leads the county schools in that department with three playoff appearances. The Knights' other appearances were in 1983 and 1984.
Northeast is second with two playoff appearances 1981 and 1985. The 85 team qualified with a 3-7-1 final record.
Southeast has one playoff appearance as the 1985 Tigers participated.
Clarkdale is still looking for its first appearance.
Nutt: "So that's it for their postseason play?"
MS: Not so fast, Ira. Don't forget the bowls. After all, the state playoffs didn't begin until 1981.
Southeast appeared in bowls in 1968, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993, and 1997.
West went to bowls in 1979, 1982, 1986, and 2000.
Northeast made bowl appearances in 1962, 1980, 1984, and 1990.
Clarkdale went to bowls four out of six years from 1977-82. The Bulldogs participated in bowls in 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1982.
Nutt: "Has a Lauderdale County team ever gone undefeated?"
MS: Yes, once upon a time it actually happened.
Nutt: "Who did that? I must have been sleeping."
MS: Northeast Lauderdale has that sole honor and it happened while you were off celebrating the Bicentennial. The 1976 Trojans posted a perfect 9-0 season under the leadership of Julius "Tack" Moore. They won the Sam Dale Conference championship that year as well.
By the way, Moore has recently moved back to Lauderdale County from Tennessee. He'll be getting a call from me in the near future.
Nutt: "So you're saying that's the most wins by a Lauderdale County team in a season?"
MS: I'm doing no such thing. The record for most wins in a single season belongs to the 1984 West Lauderdale Knights who put together a fine 10-2 year that included a pair of Class A playoff games. The Knights beat Collins 20-6 on the road before losing 33-0 to Magee at home.
Nutt: "I know Clarkdale has had some mighty long losing streaks lately, but have the Bulldogs ever been a force to reckon with?"
MS: Indeed they have. George Belvin's Bulldogs had plenty of bite to go with their bark in 1979 and 1980 as they were 17-5 those two years combined. The 79 team went 9-3, beating Riverside 17-13 in the 17th-annual Sturgis Dixie Bowl. The 80 Dogs were 8-2 and beat Belmont 21-7 in the 18th-annual Sturgis Dixie Bowl.
George will be getting a call sometime this fall as well.
Look Ira, I gotta go. Football season begins tonight. Stay in touch.