76 Trojans have place in history
By By Marty Stamper / EMG sports assistant
Dec. 20, 2002
Another high school football season is done and the equipment has been stored away for the winter.
And another year has passed with no Lauderdale County Schools team going undefeated on the gridiron.
In fact, the only team from the county school system to accomplish that feat was the 1976 Northeast Lauderdale Trojans. Tack Moore, who moved back to Lauderdale County from Tennessee earlier this year, was the head coach with Roland Wright and Robert Taylor his two assistants.
The Trojans' Bicentennial edition turned in a perfect 9-0 season. The first two games didn't show any major sign of a banner year as Northeast edged Union 13-7 and Northeast Jones 10-7.
Then the Trojan defense posted four consecutive shutouts, blanking Southeast Lauderdale 34-0, Waynesboro 20-0, Enterprise 24-0, and West Lauderdale 28-0.
That's 6-0 heading into an Oct. 15 home game with West Kemper (now part of Kemper County High). The Trojans trailed 15-14 with less than two minutes to go until Chris Miller came on to kick a 34-yard field goal with 1:14 remaining for a 17-15 win.
Not bad at all considering Miller just got out of the hospital that same day due to a blood infection.
The drive to the winning kick began at the Northeast 15 and reached the West Kemper 17 before Miller's heroics.
Quarterback Paul Harris had a crucial first down gain on fourth-and-2 at the Kemper 43 with 4:10 left.
A 31-6 rout of Nanih Waiya made Northeast 8-0 heading into a showdown at Quitman for not only a perfect season but for a Sam Dale Conference championship as well.
Despite being outgained 284-152 by the Panthers, Northeast held on for a 21-20 victory. The Trojans stuffed a two-point run a yard short of the end zone with 9:49 remaining and Albert Barfield recorded a sack near the Trojan 40 in the final 17 seconds to assure Northeast of its spot in history.
Barfield also scored on a 43-yard return of a punt which he blocked to put the Trojans up 21-14.
It was yet another example of the walking wounded making a major contribution to a victory.
Among the players' names Moore rattled off was defensive tackle Jerry Gordon. "He stayed in people's backfield about as much as they did," Moore said.
Others include David Sanders, Vee Lofton, Billy Pierce, Keith Cumberland, Anthony Clayton, Chuck Martin, Jeff Barnacastle, Larry Brown, Sylvester Betts, Lashley Threatt, Jerry Clayton, Bobby Davis, Raymond Weathers, Al Covington, William McCallum, Mike Rude, Ricky Johnson, Ken Waddell, Milton Clayton, William Seton, Larry McNeal, Steve Miley, Earl Broadhead, Steve Wilson, John Davis, Chris Lee, Lamar Mosley, Jeff Raney, Lloyd Cole, Rodney Lofton, Johnny Grace, Frank Whitehead, Mike Pridgen, Billy Brown, Billy Hinson, Otis Cheatham, Wayne Chaney, Ricky Coe, Steve Payton, Luther Whitehead, and John Horn.
One of the managers was Tack's son, Tim, who went on to become the head coach at Northeast for the last seven games of the 1995 season through 1998.
With playoffs now extending seasons to 15 games, the odds are against another Lauderdale County team going undefeated. Or any team for that matter. The only team, public or private, in the state to go 15-0 this year was Collins.
Northeast gave it a pretty good shot in 1981. The Trojans were 8-0-1 before losing 27-7 to Collins in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
Moore, who in a combined 12-year stint from 1975-82 and from 1986-89 is Northeast's all-time winningest coach with a record of 56-54-5, definitely sees a place for sports in schools.