Old friends and old places: 1973 state championship team meet before Bulldogs rivalry game

Sep. 5—THOMASVILLE — Before Thomasville High School's rivalry game against Cairo, in the cafeteria of Scott Elementary, a group of remarkable men gathered for a meet up.

The members of the 1973 Thomasville Bulldogs football team that won the state title gathered together among a spread of newspaper clippings and old scrapbooks that documented their sate title run.

Eugene Clark, a player on the 1973 Bulldogs squad and the man who organized the event, explained why it was so important for this '73 team to get together.

"We helped this city to grow," Clark said. "We had a lot of adversity, but we worked together as a team and by working together as a team, it made us the men that we are today."

The 1973 Thomasville Bulldogs were one of the first teams to integrate in their high school experience. Not everyone liked it and Clark compared their experience to that of the T.C. Williams High School Titans in the hit Denzel Washington film, "Remember the Titans." He spoke about getting spit on and playing teams of all white players. But he also spoke of the support from the community.

During that 1973 season, the Bulldogs went 13-0 on their way to a state title and were one of the toughest teams around.

"We had a great defense. Our defense has records that still hold," Clark said. "Probably one of the best defensive teams to ever come through the City of Thomasville."

Clark was certainly right. Thomasville's defense had nine shut outs on the season and never allowed more than seven points in the regular season.

All of their playoff games were on the road. The Bulldogs faced off against Tompkins in round one, Central Macon for the South Georgia Championship, and Wheeler for the state title. Each time between 20 and 25 buses, according to Clark, would help to get Thomasville supporters to the games to cheer on their Bulldogs.

Now, 50 years later, the 1973 team is recognized for their significant contribution to the tradition of football in the Rose City.

"That 1973 team, we set the standard and the tradition that still stands today," said Clark.