COACH BILL SMITH: Remembering when Red Bay beat Russellville
“I retired with 40 years of coaching, and I coached at all the county schools that had football. One of the bigger things that happened was when I was coaching at Red Bay and we came to Russellville and won.
“I left Hackleburg in Marion to take the job at Red Bay in 1989, and I was there three years. We had some pretty good teams, but the last two years, we had contracted Russellville to play. The year we were stronger and thought we had a great chance to win was the first year, but we wound up getting beat. The second year we went back to Russellville and won the ballgame in Russellville by one point.
“It was a big thing. Of course, I had some really good athletes at Red Bay, and going into that stadium and being able to win and have my son playing for me was a big deal to me. It was a highlight by all means. Knowing all the people here in Russellville and being from Russellville – I graduated from Russellville – made it that much better.
“It was really the hottest night of the year, and we had great crowds, big crowds there at the game. The opportunity of playing the bigger city school in the county was big to us – of course it was new to the kids down there. They hadn’t been in that situation before.
“It was just a great night. It was a good ballgame. It went back and forth; the lead probably changed three different times. Then we tied the ballgame up and went into overtime and won it right at the end. We had kids who – what you really look for – laid it all on the line and played. We had good athletes, and we matched up pretty good, but I had probably 15 kids who played during the game compared to their 25-30 – and like I said, it was a really hot night – but our kids were in pretty good shape, and they fought right down to the end.
“We had the ball last in overtime, and we went for two instead of for the tie, and it was one of those nights you don’t ever forget.
“Of course, after that I coached at Phil Campbell, and my last years were at Tharptown. I went and got to coach my great-nephew, Kelby Hallmark – he was a ninth-grader, and he was a great athlete. My granddaughter Kamri Sears was in ninth grade and was playing basketball; she was one of the better basketball players there. So I got to spend those years with them, and that was important.
“Kids there tried hard, but we just weren’t there yet with football. But I enjoyed all my kids all through my coaching career.”