Tracing past football glory comes with question marks|[9/03/06]

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2006

Editor’s note: This is the first in a six-part series chronicling the history of football in Warren County.

Today: The Records.

School, individual records on C4 and C5.

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Next Sunday: The Early Years.

Chronicling the Past: A comprehensive look at Warren County football, 1913-present.

In 2005, The Vicksburg Post ran a series of stories asking its readers, &#8220Who’s the best?” to ever play high school football in Warren County. After reviewing hundreds of votes, suggestions and anecdotes, an all-county team was picked from each decade since 1955.

Through the research done for the articles, however, it quickly became apparent that a lot of deserving players were left out. And so, with the stats left over, research was started into compiling a football record book for the county.

Since the end of last season, The Post’s reporters have combed through stats, old all-county teams, school yearbooks and the newspaper’s archives. Every game involving a Warren County team for which there is a written record in The Vicksburg Post, since 1923, has been reviewed.

The result is the first statistical record book for Warren County. Here is a handy guide to answer a few questions you may have as you browse the record book:.

Q: I thought high school football started in Mississippi in 1905. Why does the record book start in 1923?.

A: Prior to 1923, high school football was a rather haphazard affair. Games were often scheduled on the spur of the moment, few good records were kept and teams played anywhere from two to eight games in a season. In Warren County, Vicksburg High even disbanded its football program from 1918-22. It, along with St. Aloysius, has fielded a team every year since then, making 1923 an ideal starting point for recordkeeping.

Q: Why do some categories have only a few names, and others have five, 10 or more?.

A: In compiling the records – especially the single-game records – certain benchmarks were used to speed up the process and cut down on the overwhelming number of names. For example, there have been several dozen games in which a running back has rushed for four touchdowns. There have only been 10 in which a back has gone for five or more. Similarly, a number of receivers have caught three TD passes in a game. Only Vicksburg’s Michael Sweet has caught four.

In other cases, a benchmark further down the list was picked after a large number of players had already been included. In the career records, for example, 30 touchdown passes and 30 TD runs were the standard for inclusion. That mark allowed a number of players to be included, while at the same time giving a feel for the rarity of the feat.

Q: Why do the yardage records only go back to 1970?.

A: Call it the &#8220Huell Rule.”

Before 1970, newspaper accounts of games rarely included yardage totals and yearbooks did not include individual stats. That made figuring up a player’s total for a season or career nearly impossible. Starting in 1970, that information was put into most game stories and could be added up to figure out a total.

In the late 1960s, Temple running back Bobby Huell enjoyed a stellar career in which he probably rushed for more than 3,000 yards. Since an accurate total is impossible to determine, however, it wouldn’t be fair to estimate his total and place him on the list above or below other players. So, the career and season yardage records begin at 1970 to ensure accuracy.

In some cases, however, it was possible to determine a total for an outstanding individual game through a play-by-play account or by adding totals mentioned separately in the game story. In those instances, a yardage total has been noted.

Q: My great-great uncle, Johnny Studback, said he rushed for eight touchdowns in a game in 1940. Why isn’t he on the list?.

A: It is possible that a few games, especially in the first half of the century, were overlooked. Back then, a lot of games were played on days other than Friday and some game stories included little more than the score. In addition, there was little reporting of games for Bowman, Culkin, Jett and Redwood before the late 1940s. The lack of complete information makes it difficult, if not impossible, to compile stats for some of that era’s great players like Sam Price and Anthony Truitt of Culkin.

The list is as complete as it can be with the information available. Additions to the list – with concrete proof, such as a newspaper clipping or yearbook – are always welcome.

Q: Is that why a lot of old-timers aren’t on the list?.

A: Not entirely. In many cases, time and the game simply passed them by.

Take Ole Miss legend Junie Hovious, for example. He threw 19 touchdown passes in his career at Carr Central (1935-37), which was a record for nearly two decades. Then Culkin’s Glynn Griffing shattered the mark in the mid-1950s, a string of Temple quarterbacks passed Hovious in the following decade, and a few more have done it since then. By 2006, Hovious’ career total has been matched or surpassed in a single season seven times. His 13 TD passes in 1937, also a record until Griffing came along, are no longer even a blip on the radar. Modern offenses have relegated a lot of old records to the dustbin of history.

Q: OK, I have a newspaper clipping that says Carl Blue rushed for 2,369 yards and scored 35 touchdowns in 1979. Those should be the records, instead of what’s printed here. What gives?.

A: The records that Blue, the former Warren Central running back, set in 1979 have been printed in several different ways in several different places. In The Post’s 1979 All-County edition he was credited with 2,369 yards and 35 touchdowns. In a book recounting the history of Mississippi high school football, printed last year, he was given 4,824 yards for his career. In reviewing the records, The Post staff added up his totals game-by-game. What it ended up with, after three times through, was 2,168 yards and 33 touchdowns in 1979, and 4,196 yards and 45 touchdowns for his career. We consider these to be the actual records.

Q: In last year’s &#8220Who’s the Best?” stories, your totals were far different than what’s printed here. Were those wrong?.

A: No. At least, not entirely.

For lack of a better description, The Post’s sports staff was in a hurry when it got the stats for those stories.

In some cases, career totals were mentioned in older newspaper stories and, for the sake of time, were used in last year’s voting.

Then, after everything was said and done, we had more time to review. It quickly became apparent that the touchdown totals included everything – rushing, receiving and returns. In doing the game-by-game analysis, each player’s totals were broken down by category. That’s why, for example, former Vicksburg running back James Jones was said to have scored 44 touchdowns in his career. He ran for 30, caught 10, and scored four more times on punt, kickoff and interception returns.

The record book breaks down the touchdowns into individual categories, but does not include total TDs. Former Warren Central running back Brian Darden is far and away the all-time leader in that category, with 79.

For the single-game records, the touchdown totals are also separated into different categories.

Several players scored five or six touchdowns in a game, for example, but the ones listed are the only players to have scored that many running or catching the football.

Q: All of these are offensive records. Where are the defensive records?.

A: More than likely, lost to history. One of the downsides to using newspaper accounts as a primary source for the record book is that the stories often overlook a play that is insignificant in the course of the game – such as an interception that doesn’t lead to points or a swing in momentum. Because of that, it’s tough to add up interception totals for individual players. Add the fact that players with one or two picks in their freshman or sophomore year might be left off the season-ending stats, and it’s almost impossible. As always, it’s better – if unfortunate – to leave something out completely rather than have an inaccurate total.

Also, many totals for sacks, fumble recoveries and tackles are either incomplete or inaccurate. Again, omission is better than inaccuracy.

Q: Is that also why the field goal records seem to stop in 1983?.

A: No, not at all.

When it comes to field goals, it seems teams just didn’t kick a lot of them before then. In most seasons in the 1960s, for example, the county leader had two or three at the most.

And in the 1940s and ‘50s, the kicking game was almost nonexistent.

Teams were even allowed to run plays from scrimmage for extra points, and did so regularly.

Q: This is nice. When will The Post do something similar for basketball or baseball?.

A: Not anytime soon. The focus on football in the fall, as well as the limited number of games in a season, makes it possible to compile a football record book with a little hard work.

High school basketball and baseball have been played in the county for just as long, if not longer, and include twice as many games in a season – many of which have gone unreported or underreported over the years. Determining individual records for those sports, especially for single games, is next to impossible.


Career touchdowns for Warren Central’s Brian Darden, tops in the county by far.


Undefeated seasons by Rosa A. Temple High during the 1960s dynasty.


Rushing yards by Vicksburg’s Caris London against Gentry in 1999, the single-game record holder.


Rushing touchdowns for Warren Central’s Carl Blue in 1979, the county’s single-season record-holder.


Passing yards by Vicksburg’s James Jackson in 2003 against Brookhaven for a county record.


Victories by Warren Central coach Robert Morgan, the most of any Warren Central coach.