Buc History Race
By Wayne Wood
Now that the Hoover Bucs will be playing McGill-Toolen of Mobile for the 2016 state 7-A championship on November 30 in Auburn, it is time for me to relate another historical goal that the Bucs can achieve with a win over the 13-0 #1 ranked Yellow Jackets. The Bucs could have achieved this last season in Tuscaloosa against McGill-Toolen but messed up their opportunity with a loss in the semi-finals thus the Mobile area team won the state title and are looking to make it two in a row.
The historical significance I’m referring to is the opportunity to gain the most state football championships in Alabama high school records and this means all school size classifications involved (large, small & in-between). The Bucs have been tied with a school which actually no longer exists but had an incredible record within the past 45 or so years. That school was the Hazelwood Golden Bears from Town Creek in the northwest area of the state of Lawrence County.
Hazelwood was basically rezoned for their students about 8 years ago to another nearby school. Their last year of football competition was 2008. I want to be very respectful, fair and considerate in relating this information.
Hazelwood began its program back in 1927 and had an overall record of 550 wins, 270 losses & 21 ties. They won a so-called mythical state title in 1964 before the AHSAA established the state playoff system 50 years ago in 1966.
After the playoff system had been established a few years, Hazelwood won a state title in 1970 followed by another in 1975 & a runner-up spot in 1978. Then the next 2 decades they won titles in 1981, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, runner-up spots in 1993 & 1995 and their last one in 2000. This was a total of 11 titles & 3 runner-up spots in the playoff format.
The Buccaneer program as Berry High School won titles in 1977 & 1982 and then as Hoover High won titles in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2013, & 2014 for a total of 11 state championships. They also had runner-up spots in 1969, 1988, 2001, 2006, 2008, 2010, & 2011 for a total of 7 and the state title contest vs. McGill-Toolen this year makes it 19 game appearances total.
Comparing a large high school program to a small high school program is grossly unfair in my opinion. Like the expression goes, “Like comparing apples to oranges.” However, if you checked with a lot of people who knew about Hazelwood during that period they’d probably tell you that the Golden Bears could have & did beat several schools larger than themselves. They also had 29 consecutive playoff wins from 1988-2003 to Hoover’s 24 wins from 2002-2006.
There were many great players from there and a lot of colleges gave them opportunities to play. Names like the Goode Family, defensive back Antonio Langham & the list is long. (I think a lot of people in the Town Creek region were kin to each other in some kind of way).
Yet there have been other programs in state history who had great runs whether they were of the “mythical” championship era or the playoff era or in some cases a mixture of both. The small school in Choctaw County of the southwest area of the state named Sweet Water had 9 state titles in 1978, 1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 with runner-up spots in 1969, 1975, 1984 and is in the playoffs regularly even now.
The Tuscaloosa High School Black Bears won 9 mythical titles in 1921, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1936 & 1949. The school merged years ago with some other local schools forming Tuscaloosa-Central High.
Two Montgomery city schools were once powerhouses in their own right winning 8 titles each. Sidney Lanier won titles in 1920, 1922, 1928, 1939, 1961, 1966, 1967 & 1968 while Robert E. Lee won titles in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1969, 1970, 1986, 1991 & 1992.
Two Birmingham area schools won 6 each. Homewood won titles in 1974, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2004 & 2005 while Woodlawn won titles in 1937, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1955 & 1956. Across the state T.R. Miller of Brewton; Clay County & Colbert County have also won 6 titles apiece. I regret I’m omitting some others.
But back to the Hoover Bucs and Hazelwood and their tied record of 11 state championships with the Bucs opportunity to break the record and make it 12. It certainly would not diminish in any way Hazelwood’s tremendous legacy. In fact, I personally believe it would enhance it knowing the contributions they made to state history. Records are made to be broken & even those are made to be broken and so the cycle goes. It’s part of the satisfaction of competition whether within a year or across the annuals of time.
However, McGill-Toolen will have everything to say about this record opportunity by the Bucs. It’s up to the Bucs to have the final say in the matter. GO BUCS!