It’s the happiest season of allPublished 10:27am Thursday, August 29, 2013
The favorite time of the year for many of us is here – football season. NFL preseason games have been under way for a couple of weeks, and jamborees and AISA games kicked off Thursday and Friday. Now, AHSAA and college football is only days away.
A few of us at the office were talking about high school football Thursday and I was reminded of the days (not so long ago) when Wetumpka and Tallassee played each other – typically the first game of the season. It was a really big deal for both schools for a lot of reasons.
For the host team any given year, the game was a financial bonanza. The crowds were huge and concession sales were great. If you wanted to park within a reasonable distance of either stadium you had to get there extremely early.
The match-up was a long-standing tradition. The two teams played a total of 66 games, and at one point (1951-1997) the Indians and Tigers met for 47 consecutive years. The first year the schools played was in 1921 and the last was in 2003. It seems such a shame that the rivalry has died away.
There are a couple of other traditional opponents Wetumpka no longer faces on the gridiron – Holtville and Eclectic.
The Panthers and Indians first played in 1922 and met a total of 59 times over the years. Their longest streak for yearly meetings was 44 seasons (1950-1993). The last time they played was in 2005.
Holtville and Wetumpka first got together over a pigskin in 1933, and played a total of 50 games. It was before my time at Wetumpka, but for many years the teams played on Thanksgiving Day. By the time I was in school, they played on Friday nights.
With this contest, too, there was a long, unbroken string of year-to-year meetings – 40 in this case. But it’s been a long time since they were on a field together, with their final meeting in 1985.
The only team left on the Indians’ schedule that includes a streak of consecutive yearly games is Stanhope Elmore. They first began playing in 1970 and the contests have continued. This year will be the 44th straight for the game, but this season’s contest will actually be No. 45 since the teams met twice in one previous year because of the playoffs.
Of course, there are other teams with which Wetumpka has significant history. For example, the Indians have played Prattville and Benjamin Russell many times going back to the 1920s. But those aren’t quite the same as playing against your intra county neighbors. It’s a little sad that three of those rivalries have faded away.
Until next week …
Peggy Blackburn is managing editor of The Wetumpka Herald and Elmore County Weekend. She can be reached at 334-567-7811. Her email address is peggy.blackburn@TheWetumpkaHerald.com.