Thursday, December 11, 2014

Memphis State football great Bob Ford visited Evergreen in December 1959

Bob Ford at Memphis.
High school basketball is in full swing in Conecuh County and local fans have a lot of basketball action to look forward to as the young season progresses.

Among Conecuh County’s four varsity teams, Sparta Academy’s varsity girls currently have the best record. They’re 7-0 and will likely be ranked in the Top 10 when the first statewide rankings come out in a week or two. So far this season, their closest win has been a 10-point victory over Fort Dale Academy.

Coming back off last year’s appearance in the 4A regional tourney in Dothan, Hillcrest’s varsity boys are also looking strong. As of Monday, they were 5-1 overall with their only loss coming on the road against Paul Bryant High School in the AUM tournament before the Thanksgiving holidays. They could also be ranked when the initial Class 3A rankings hit the streets in another week or so.

Sparta’s varsity boys and Hillcrest’s varsity girls were both sporting .500 records on Monday afternoon. The Warriors were 4-4 overall, and the Lady Jags were 3-3. Both teams also have several impressive wins on their resumes, so they may end up finishing the season strong. Only time will tell.

Conecuh County is lucky to have such fine quality high school basketball, and I’d like to encourage sports fans in the reading audience to see a game or two in person when they get the chance. These student-athletes are some of Conecuh County’s best ambassadors and they deserve our support. Plus, they’re a lot of fun to watch.

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If you’ve already read this week’s Sports Flashback feature, you saw where Alabama assistant football coach Bob Ford was the featured speaker at Evergreen High School’s football banquet in 1959.

Ford graduated from Memphis State in 1955, and the 1959 season at Alabama was Ford’s first season with the Crimson Tide. It was also Bear Bryant’s second season as the head coach at Alabama. Another second-year assistant coach on that team that some of you may have heard of was a young coach named Gene Stallings.

When Ford came to Evergreen, No. 19-ranked Alabama was fresh off a 10-0 win over No. 11 Auburn at Legion Field in Birmingham. The win over Auburn moved Alabama to No. 10 in the polls, and nine days after his speech in Evergreen, Alabama finished the season in the Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia.

In the Liberty Bowl, Alabama played No. 12 Penn State. Penn State ended up winning, 7-0, before a crowd of just over 34,000. The game was televised by NBC, and it was the only Alabama game televised that year.

Ford would go on to serve as an assistant coach at Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Arkansas. While at Arkansas, he earned a law degree and went on to practice law for over 44 years. During that time, he also served as a pro football scout for the Dallas Cowboys for 25 years.

Sadly, he passed away earlier this year, on Feb. 8, in Wynne, Ark.

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