By JOSH FRYE
Fifty years is a very long time away from the lights and sounds of a high school football field. Fifty years is how long it has taken for the 1971 Escambia Academy football team and cheerleaders to return to the place where the legacy of Cougar Nation all began.
In 1971, EA was new to the game of football. At that time, EA’s first football team scrimmaged in what is now the site of Canoe Church. Things back then looked much different than they do now. However, two things that have remained the same are the love for Escambia Academy football and the train which breaks the silence of Canoe every few hours.
Coach Jimmy Brown held the reins of the first EA football team which included many of the players who returned to Canoe last Friday, October 22 to meet on the same field where they played 50 years ago.
In 1971, the Cougars established the first successful football team and finished with a record of 10-1-1. That year, the team lost during the semi-finals to Southern Academy, 7-6, which coincidentally was facing the Cougars in Canoe last Friday during the reunion of the 1971 team and cheerleaders.
Former EA football players who joined the former head coach Jimmy Brown in the reunion return were Bee Blackwell (fullback), Slim Crawford (tackle), Robert Donald (tackle and 1971 team MVP), Kurt Donaldson (wide receiver), Randy Hall (end), Larry Johnson (guard), Jimbo Walker (team captain and tackle), Don Ward (quarterback), Charles Woods (center), Frankie Coon (end), Richard Monroe (end), Maxie Bondurant (end), Melvin Hetzel (tackle), David Smith (guard), James Smith (end). Larry McPherson (tackle).
Players who were not able to attend are John Bachelor (linebacker and co-captain), Jimmy Earle (guard), Lavon Smith (linebacker and co-captain), Jeff Shiver (guard), Brent Whitaker (end).
Deceased are Howard Ford (end), Phil Williamson (tackle), Billy Brown (team manager) and Rollin Moseley (headmaster and assistant coach).
Former EA cheerleaders who attended are Kaki Gordon Russell (captain), Linda Kay Helton Farr, Myna Corman Hayles, Lisa Swift and Anna Milsap Smith (mascot).
Cheerleaders who were not able to attend were Janet Helton Shirley (co-captain), Lynn Maxwell Shirley, Susan Tennant Bachelor, Shane Bachelor Elliot, Gretchen Chapman Oldham. Deceased is Judy Branum (cheerleader sponsor).
Former players, staff and cheerleaders in attendance were honored by being named honorary captains of the game, and former EA head coach Jimmy Brown took the coin toss for his former team which is now led by EA headmaster and head coach High Fountain.
The alumni were also honored and recognized mid-field during halftime. It was even rumored that some of the former players were chomping at the bit to get into uniform to play against their former 1971 rival.