Pepperell Football
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The information on this page was contributed by Skip Lanier.

1942 Pepperell football team

newspaper article from 1941 or 1942

I recall that there were several football teams in the village.  The older teams were made up of 8th and 9th grade students.  Of course the mill company funded the teams.

The first one in my memory happened in 1941 or 1942.  It was coached by Frank Plant.  Frank was a village boy who played center on the Opelika High School team.  He went on to play center with the Georgia Bulldogs.  Charlie Trippi and Frank Sinkwich, both 'All Americans', played on one of Frank's teams. 

The newspaper account (posted above) covers a game between the Dragon Midgets and the Opelika Midgets .  As you can see the author of the article put much emphasis on what Opelika did and very little about Pepperell.  To put some first names with the lineup:  the boys on the team were: Fred Tucker, Billy Hinson, Marvin Duncan (who played center on the 1943 Opelika High team), Charles Gilmer, Skip Lanier, Sonny Allen (a nephew of John Linch), James Milam and Skeet Geiger, and either R. Smith or J. Smith ( I don't remember which).  Subs Paul Mezick, one of the Letlow boys, Royce, Robert or Lewie, and one of the Haddox boys (Earl or Dude).  I believe we played a team from Auburn that same year and I think we lost that one too. 

The second team was formed in 1943; it was the year before some of us started to play for the Opelika High team.  Someone (it may have been John Linch) asked for some football uniforms for a Pepperell team.  We did not have uniforms for the game with Opelika.  A man named Burrell Barrett, who worked in the mill and had moved here from Mississippi, was our coach.  (The photo of that team is displayed at the top of this page.)  The players did not hold their heads up when the photo was made, so most of them are hard to identify.  Some of the players are:  Billy Hinson, Sam Hawkins, Skip Lanier, Sonny Allen, James Milam, Ed Bryant and Fred Tucker.  Note that the helmets for the linemen are solid color and the helmets for the backs were white with a black stripe. 

The only game I remember playing was against a team from Columbus named Metcalf's.  Metcalf's was a men and boys clothing store in Columbus.  Their team must have been a part of a Jr. High league.  The game was played in Memorial Coliseum.  We showed up in our new uniforms only to be greeted by a much bigger team dressed in new silver pants, jerseys and helmets.  I don't remember much about the game except that we were getting beat badly at the end of the first half.  Coach Barrett couldn't stand it.  He asked our largest player to take off his uniform and Coach put it on.  Coach played the second half of the game.  Metcalf's did not complain, if they even knew it, and we still could not score any points.

There were teams in the years 1944 to 1947.  In 1948 the team was coached by Skip Lanier and Harold Birchfield.  We played a team from Opelika and lost that game also.  Some members of that team were, Harry Tucker, George Tucker, Burt Hornsby, Boyd Hornsby, Skippy Jones, Fred Birchfield, Jesse Gunn, Benny Garner, Phil Knight, Harold Bryant, H.V. Lacy and Bruce Lee.  -    Skip Lanier

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