Mark Clark: 49 years ago, the Vikings were undefeated
I know my wife would like for me to finish cleaning up my room – and I am trying to do that. However, there are some things that just cause me to lose my focus. While cleaning up, I often uncover something from my past that captures my attention and I lose the battle with my focus and stop cleaning to travel down Memory Lane as they say.
It has been 49 years since the Phenix City Boys Club Vikings completed an undefeated football season. It was the first team to have an undefeated season – it was said – since Central High in 1944. I really doubt that to be true. I am sure some other Boys Club football team had gone undefeated between 1944 and 1970. But, it was nice to believe it was the truth at the time.
Anyway, while cleaning my room, I ran across an envelop with an old newspaper clipping with a photo of the 1970 Boys Club Vikings. The newspaper clipping has turned a little yellow with age, but the players in the photo are still recognizable. In that same envelop were a schedule of the games played and a program from the Second Annual Phenix Youth Bowl which was played November 21, 1970 at Phenix City Municipal Stadium – now known as Garrett-Harrison Stadium.
To say the least, when I found the envelop, the cleaning of the room stopped. I had to take some time to remember this group of guys – most of whom I spent my teenage years with through junior high and high school. We had a great time that year as we went 9-0 – 8-0 in the regular season and then winning the Youth Bowl against the Thomaston Tigers of Thomaston, Ga.
The Vikings were 12-14 year-olds. Most of us were from Central Junior High. Why did we not play junior high football for Central? Well, the school decided to not field a team that year. That is when some very dedicated men, the Boys Club, the Phenix City Shine Club and Fletcher-McCollister American Legion Post 135 stepped forward to fill the void. The men – Bobby Edwards, Ronnie Flippo, Tom Staton and Mike Goins – were our coaches. The Boys Club was our sponsor. The American Legion sponsored our uniforms. The Shrine Club provided us with transportation to games. We were all thankful for what they did for us. We will always be thankful for our community stepping forward to help its kids.
On the back of the program are the games we played and the results of those games. We opened our season with Ashford Academy and won 48-14. We defeated Macon Academy 38-8. For us, the third game was the most important as we beat Glenwood 22-0. Of course, none of those games would have ever been played had we had a junior high team. The Alabama High School Athletic Association would never have allowed a public school to play a private school back then and does not today if the team is not a member of the association. So that game with Glenwood that we wanted to play so badly would never have taken place today or any year since 1970. We played our first and only public school in our fourth game – Chavala (now Russell County) – and won 14-13. Then we beat Montgomery Academy 18-0. We crossed the state line to play Pacelli in our sixth game and won 14-8. We beat another Georgia private school next – Brookstone – and won that game 20-6. Our last game was against Lakeside Academy, a 6-0 win over its varsity. We were supposed to play junior high teams, but we suspected some of the private schools were using some, if not all, varsity players against us.
After completing our regular season, we did not know if we would play in the Youth Bowl. The adults had to find an opponent willing to face us. Thomaston, Ga., Junior High said it would. My memory is not as good as it once was, but I believe Thomaston scored on the first play of the game. But, we went on to win that one 32-22. The undefeated season was completed.
Just a note about the Thomaston, Ga., team, the center was a guy named Hugh Nall. You may remember him. He coached a while at Auburn University.
And another note, I have said “we” a lot in this column. I perhaps should have said “they” more. I did my job for the team and that was to get beaten up during practice in hopes of getting to step on the playing field a few times a game when possible. Several of us had that role for the team, but we were a part of the team and we loved being with our friends every day even if we were getting pounded by them. The guys on the team were Glenn Hall, George Carden, Neal Layfield, Mark Cook, Jeff Knowles, Ricky Oaks, Keith McIntyre, Robert Edwards, David Jones, Ricky Blanton, Steve Tillery, Mark Sanders, Chuck Doriety, Robby McIntrye, Chuck Bowsher, Tony Jernigan, Bobby McIntyre, Gene Booker, Bennie Beavers, Steve Cole, Chris Hawkins, William Hutchinson, Ronald McAlpine, John Smith, Randy Jackson, Bobby Parr, Kenny Watford, Danny Hess, Mark Clements, Don Garner, Rocky Barnes and me. Our manager was Clyde Booker. Our cheerleaders were Kathy Kirkland, Jan Sanders, Debbie Brown, Wanda Cannon, Kittie Helms, Beverly Goins, Vicky Sanders, Dale Mobley, Kathy Watson, Martha Byrd, Candy Mann and Connie Wilson.
I thank them all for providing me with wonderful memories that have lasted my entire life. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the team. It would be great to get together with the guys, girls and coaches one more time before they are just memories of the past.
Mark Clark is a local sports writer for
The Citizen of East Alabama.