Addison’s greatest team; Let the debate begin

The 1970 state champion Addison Bulldogs football team. (Photo courtesy of Todd Walker)

ADDISON, Ala. — What constitutes the “greatest team” from a school? Is it their win-loss record, winning a state title, having great players or just stats?  I believe that it is a combination of all those things, plus let’s be honest, a lot of speculation. ​

I have decided to look at the long and storied history of Addison High School Football to try and determine the best team ever to come from this small school in Winston County. ​

I believe the obvious choices come down to four teams, the 1962 10-0 team, the 1970 13-0 state title team, the 1976 14-0 state title team and the 2005 14-1 state title team.   

The 1960 team gets left out, fair or unfair, due to the nonexistence of a state playoff system at the time, plus just not a lot of information to be gathered on the team and its opponents. ​

The 1976 team won a state title, but the team’s regular season opponents posted only a 42% winning percentage. ​

So, it came down to the 1970 Bulldogs against the 2005 Bulldogs. Both won state titles, both had outstanding players, and both had impressive postseason runs. One difference was that the 1970 team went undefeated and the 2005 team had an extremely controversial loss on the road to a very good Fyffe team, 14-12, in the opening game of the season. One of the biggest differences came down to the 1970 team’s overall offensive and defensive performance. In 1970, Addison’s regular season opponents had a 53% winning percentage that year whereas the 2005 team’s opponents sat at 48%.    ​

The biggest difference was that the 1970 team’s defense only gave up 23 points all season. Yes, you read that right, 23 points in 13 games. They posted an amazing nine shutouts in 13 games and didn’t give up double digits in any game they played. They gave up only three touchdowns all year and two of those were in round two and three of the state playoffs. That comes out to a miniscule 1.8 points per game. ​

Another telling stat about that defense was that in all 13 games, Addison held their opponents under their season scoring average. That is hard to do as well. They did not give up a single point at home all year in six games. ​

Before you start saying, “Well, it was a different era and it was three yards and a cloud of dust, no one scored a lot back then.”  That is true. Offenses were not as spread out and high flying as they are today, but the 1970 Bulldogs scored a whopping 35 points per game as well. The 1970 team scored 444 points and again only gave up 23 by the end of the season.

​The 2005 Addison team’s offense, which featured thee 1,000-yard rushers, only scored three more points per game than the 1970 team. ​

1970 Addison truly dominated their competition and as a 2A team, six of their players went on to play college football. Terry “Ug” Stallings (RB) and Darrel Cleghorn (T) went on to play at Ole Miss, Randy Lee (QB) and Randy White (DB) went to play at Samford, Craig Bell (E) went to U.T. Chattanooga while Jimmy Cox (QB/RB) walked on at Alabama before transferring to Jacksonville State. ​

If you judge by the teams that you play, the 1970 team comes out looking pretty good as well. Addison played county rival Lynn who finished 8-2 and clubbed them 28-0. Addison played solid Oakman and Winston County High School teams and beat both of them on the road 26-6 and 59-0 respectively. Oakman was the only team to score a touchdown on Addison during the regular seasons. On a side note, Oakman had a player, John Freeman, who later signed with Notre Dame. ​

During the playoffs, Addison shredded (8-2) Bridgeport 35-0, destroyed (9-1) Sulligent 31-8 at Sulligent. Sulligent had the 2A player of the year in FB Kenneth Umbers. The state title game that year was against Susan Moore and the game was moved to Cullman High School. A packed house watched Addison defeat Susan Moore 15-7 with Susan Moore’s only score coming on a kickoff return. Addison more than doubled up Susan Moore in yardage. ​

In speaking with members of the team, the common theme was that Alabama High School Hall of Fame Head Coach Aubrey “Snake Eyes” Hicks was a tough teacher that instilled leadership principles and lessons that each and every member of the team used throughout their lives. All that I spoke with stated that practice was 10 times harder than the games they played. ​

Craig Bell, who later became a high school coach, said that Coach Hicks told him,

“The worst thing that a coach can do is not have his players in condition to play four quarters.”  Bell said, “Believe you me we were in condition. The town of Addison also played a big part in our success. You were driven to excel by all the players that came before you. Your older brothers, cousins, uncles and fathers who had played and graduated all had success on the field and pushed you to carry on the tradition.”​

Stevie Hayes added, “That 1970 team was, in my opinion, as close as any team that Addison has ever had. We were a family. Everyone, no matter if you started or backed up, somehow, someway made a play at some point during the season to help us win.”​

Randy White, the coach of the 2005 Bulldogs team that won a state title felt good about his team’s depth going into the memorable season.

“We thought that coming into that season we could be pretty good,” White said. “We had a lot of depth then which at that time not a lot of teams had.”​

Coach Allen Stephenson, a legendary coach in his own right who is also a member of the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame, was an assistant to Coach Hicks on that team.

“Coach Hicks was tough, but he knew how to get the best out of kids,” Stephenson said. “Going into that season we knew we had two quarterbacks, Randy Lee and Jimmy Cox. Normally, if you have two QBs you really don’t have one, but we were the exception. Both those young men drove each other and made each other better.”​

The 1970 Addison team was a special group of guys that got together and performed magic on Friday nights. They were from a small town in a small county, but they showed that year they were the best team in Alabama. ​

Let the debate begin…​

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