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The beginning in the South

Usually, one expects to see a championship team featured in the news media, but why should winning a championship be the criteria for being noted, or famous, or something for which teammates, a school and a community can be proud? Such is the subject of today’s story, set in the South Marengo County town of Sweet Water 52 years ago, and here you have a photo of a football team that did not win a championship that year, but it was the beginning.

This was the first season the Bulldogs were led in practice and on the gridiron by future legendary coach, Nolan Atkins. He had been a successful coach at several other schools before coming to Sweet Water, but there he would shine, and provide the light to victories for the Bulldogs, being state runner-up in football four times, three state championship teams, six undefeated teams, and while he was at it he coached the baseball team to six state championships and runner-up another year. 

Some accolades fell upon the 1966 team in that tackle Guy Luker and halfback Velpo Waldrope were selected Honorable Mention for All State Honors, while Waldrope, end Alfred Morgan and tackle Alfred Morgan were named to the All Blackbelt Conference team for 1966.

Then, there was a forgotten member of that team who had sustained what was thought a career ending knee injury the year before.  Quarterback and punter David Beverly was not physically able to play this, his senior season, but you never know.  David walked on for Coach Shug Jordan’s Auburn team, and ended up setting punting records, and making All SEC in 1971, going on to play seven years for the Green Bay Packers, where he set records for number of punts, punting yardage and fewest punts blocked.

In 2009, the county fielded its first Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame Awards Banquet and dinner.  There have been 44 other outstanding men and women inducted for the next nine years, but no class more noted than the first six consisting of Demopolis, Bama and Kansas City star, Tommy Brooker, Linden famed Coach Walter (Pistol) Henders, Demopolis, Bama, and New York Giants linebacker, Robert Jones, legendary Anniston and Demopolis Coach E.D. (Chink) Lott … and from the far south from just past the mid-60s, there was Coach Nolan Atkins and Punter David Beverly. 

You never know when there might be a beginning.

— Tom Boggs is a columnist for the Demopolis Times and a native of Marengo County. His column,“Days Gone Bye,” appears weekly.

 

(This column originally appeared in the Wednesday, October 24 issue of the Demopolis Times.)