SIX MAN FOOTBALL IN LAURENS COUNTY - 1940
Most football fans know that there are eleven men on each team. Quite a few don’t remember the days when a football player had to play on both offense and defense. In the small towns of Georgia before World War II, high schools had a hard time getting enough boys to outfit an eleven-man team. County School Superintendent Elbert Mullis first began organizing football teams in the county high schools in 1938. The first two teams were Brewton and Cedar Grove. In 1939, Rentz, Cadwell, and Dexter began to organize their teams. In 1940, the Laurens County - Oconee League went into full swing.
The boys played what was called six-man football. There were no guards nor tackles on the offensive line - only a center and two ends. In the backfield, there was a quarterback and two running backs. In some games there was only one referee, who obviously had to be in good shape to cover the entire field - there was no instant replay. Sometimes coaches from other teams officiated. The first game of the 1940 season was held in Cadwell. Mayor C.J. Bedingfield declared the day, October 3rd, a town holiday and urged all businesses to close for the team’s first football game ever. Cadwell, coached by Bob Shuler, destroyed the Dexter Boys, coached by Raymond Smith, by the score of 40 to 7. Five hundred spectators showed up for the game.
The second game of the season was between Brewton High School and Cedar Grove. This game was much closer. Warren Sapp scored the first touchdown for Brewton and Keiver Jordan threw a touchdown pass to Victor Moye. Cedar Grove scored a safety early in the game and scored once on a touchdown by right end Manus. Brewton held on for a 12 to 8 game. Neither team converted an extra point.
While all of the teams played full schedules, many of the reports of the games were never published. Cedar Grove had one of its best games of the season when it defeated Darien High School by the score of 39-13. Lamar Lowery was the hero for Cedar Grove that afternoon. Cadwell, led by a return of an interception by Wyman Mullis, defeated the heavily favored Peacock School from Atlanta, 24 to 12. Brewton continued its undefeated season on Oct. 20th with a 30 to 14 victory over Dexter at the latter’s home field. Warren Sapp drove through the center on the second play of the game for the first score. Moye scored on a pass from Jordan. Jordan who scored a few minutes later on a quarterback run. Jack Sapp returned an interception for a touchdown for Brewton. Moye ran nearly the entire length of the field, dodging several Dexter tacklers. Frost and English scored for Dexter.
Cadwell defeated the powerful Brewton team 14 to 12 for their only defeat of the season. Bedingfield and Daniell gained a measure of revenge for their 24 to 0 drubbing by Brewton in the first game. The two teams would play again before the end of the season.
Brewton smashed Dexter 41 to 8. Frost scored the only touchdown for Dexter, while Jack Sapp, Victor Moye, Swinton Walker, Keiver Jordan, and Warren Sapp, all scored for Brewton. Brewton, led by Swinton Walker and Warren Sapp, followed with a solid 25 to 13 victory over Rentz. Bracewell scored two touchdowns for the losers. In a second game against Rentz, on their home field, Brewton won 15 to 12 over the Rentz Yellowjackets, coached by David Frazier. Jordan passed to Maddox for the final score of the game.
Cadwell earned a spot in the title game with a 20 to 13 defeat of Rentz. C.J. Wynn and T. Bedingfield led the Cadwell comeback with one touchdown each in the second half. Wyman Mullis and Wallace Collins were outstanding on defense for the Cadwell Bulldogs. Bracewell, Grinstead, and Mackey played a good game for Rentz.
The county championship came down to one game. It would be played on a neutral field in Dublin. Coach Eugene Heckle’s Brewton boys and Coach Bob Shuler’s Cadwell Bulldogs had split their season series, 1-1, with each team winning their home games. The winner of the game would meet the champion of the Southwest Georgia Football Association for the state championship the next Friday night.
Brewton’s offense exploded in the first three quarters. Victor Moye ran back and forth across the field for a forty yard run down to the Cadwell one yard line. When the game ended, the score was Brewton 61, Cadwell 19. Scoring for Brewton were Moye, 3 touchdowns, Walker, Jack Sapp, and Jordan, with two touchdowns each. Warren Sapp kicked three extra points and Moye caught one pass for an extra point. With the score 43-0 at the start of the fourth quarter, Cadwell’s Bedingfield tried to catch up all by himself. He scored three touchdowns and one extra point in the final stanza, but to no avail.
Brewton met Cuthbert High in Cuthbert for the state title on December 5, 1940. During the season the Brewton team were eight and one. They scored 261 points to their opponent’s 106. Brewton’s lineup in the title game was: Keiver Jordan, at quarterback; Jack Sapp, at halfback; Warren Sapp, at fullback; Roy Graham, at center; Victor Moye, the team captain at right end; and Swinton Walker, at left end. The reserves were made up of Junior Watson, at quarterback; Donald Tipton, at end; Roger Green, at halfback; Stacey Lake, at end; Truett Fort, at fullback; and Albert Garnto, at halfback. Playing quarterback for Cuthbert was Charlie Waller, a former Dublin boy and an All-American candidate. Waller, who was a star footballer for Dublin in the two previous years, led in his league, the So-we-ga, in many offensive categories.
Waller showed why the University of Alabama had given him a football scholarship. He nearly collapsed from exhaustion after running for seven touchdowns. Brewton’s only score came in the second quarter when Victor Moye returned a Cuthbert fumble for a touchdown. Cuthbert scored 14, 24, 30, and 22 points in the quarters to take a 90 to 6 victory, a new high all-Georgia scoring record. Cuthbert’s fullback scored four touchdowns. The Brewton boys spent the night in a Cuthbert hotel that night. It was a long ride back home to Brewton that Sunday.
Their comrades at Dublin High played Monticello for the regular eleven-man district championship two days before. Dublin, leading 13 to 12 in the fourth quarter, was driving for a victory clinching score. Morgan intercepted a Dublin pass which he took back for a touchdown, giving Monticello a 18 to 13 victory. In 1941, the Cadwell Bulldogs, led by C.J. Wynn, came from behind to defeat Cedar Grove 38 to 21 to win the county championship. The game was played on Friday night, Dec. 5th. I think you know what happened the next Sunday.