They Only Got To Play When Games Out Of Reach
Column for April 7, 2005
by Jerry Simmons

The photo accompanying this article is one of the Junior High football teams coached by my brother Eddie during the 1960s. Eddie never planned to be a coach when he went to college. Although he loved - and still loves - football, he majored in history and minored in English. Nowadays you aren't a real jock if you don't take courses in some sort of sports.  He claims he was not that great a player; in fact, the
only times he was called on to go in
during a game was when Century was
 ay ahead or way behind.
     One week, a game was coming up
with some powerhouse opponent and
he figured he wouldn't get to play
anyway. When Mom told us we
were going to Fort Benning, GA to
visit our aunt Ruby Dell Raibl (Uncle
Tony was in the 82nd Airborne, I
think it was), he decided he wouldn't
argue and try to make her allow him
to stay behind. That was a memorable
trip to Columbus on the train - but
that's another story.
     It turned out that Century was
behind maybe three or more touch-
downs and Coach Smith decided to
relieve the starters in the waning
moments so he called out “Simmons,
get in there!” Problem was, Simmons
wasn't on the bench. I think Eddie
figured (wrongly) he wouldn't be
missed, but I bet he had to run a
few extra laps the next week. What
was worse, he missed a chance to
T. A. Shell, whose father I wrote
about a couple weeks back, tells that
he was almost too small to make much
of an impression on opposing players,
so like Eddie, he didn't get much playing
time. T.A. played varsity football for
Pensacola High.
Allow me to quote T.A.'s story:

     “I only got to play in varsity games when  the
games were out of reach one way or the other
or when the first string quarterback,  Danny Cunningham, (who wasn't all that good in his own right) was injured to the point he couldn't play. 
     “The coach used to hold skull practices for his quarterbacks (both of us) where he would present situations to us and we would tell him what we would do. Once he asked me what I would do if we were five points behind with one minute to play and it was our ball fourth down on the thirty yard line. I told him absolutely accurately that I would stand up on the bench to get a better view of the game since there was no chance whatsoever of my being in the game in that situation!”
That's sorta what Eddie figured.
Eddie also tells another story that few people outside his immediate circle of friends ever knew. He was watching Century High's football practice one afternoon, fresh out of college and the first year he taught at Century High School, the fall of 1958. He saw Coach John F. Waters walking toward him. As he got next to Eddie, Waters pulled a whistle on a cord out of his pocket and put it around Eddie's neck. He said, “Mr. Simmons, I want you to start up a Junior High School football team.”
     Eddie protested, “But Coach, I don't know anything about coaching a football team.”
     “You know more than THEY do,” replied Waters as he walked away. So began a football coaching legend. Eddie's Junior High teams had among the best records of any coach's teams in CHS lore. The truth is, many of the players still have a high regard for him. I will always be known, if I am known at all, as Coach Simmons' little brother.
     Especially in those days, coaches' salaries were not the best in the world, according to Eddie. But even he was paid a supplement of about $50.00 a month. He illustrated the point of low pay by telling about Bubba Stanton needing the roof replaced over his store one summer. As he drove by one day, Eddie noticed two men working in the hot sun on Bubba's roof. As he got closer to the store, he realized it was Coach Jim Manderson and Coach Waters! As many of you know, Manderson was highly respected as a coach, having one of the few undefeated varsity football teams in CHS history - and there he was roofing Bubba's store as a side job!
     The story goes they were paid in groceries, rather than cash - that proves Bubba was a wheeler-dealer, huh? It was a good deal for all concerned, if you ask me.
The book with the story of Old 100 is in stock and for the small amount of $10.00 you can give a part of your donation toward acquiring the old steam engine. We can mail one to you for probably less than a dollar, so you can mail your ten dollars plus a dollar or so postage to ASHS, PO Box 1002, Century, FL 32535. We think you'll enjoy the little book.
Our next meeting is Tuesday, April 19, at 7 pm. We meet at the Leach House Museum in the James H. Jones Historical Park, behind 7510 Jefferson Avenue, in beautiful downtown Century.       
     Come meet with us - no obligation, and only a little bit of pressure to join the Society! Well, okay - maybe a lot of pressure - but it's a lot of fun and yet educational at the same time!
     Y'all come see us!

This page last modified on Saturday, April 09, 2005

Jr High team

Front, l-r
Manager Donnie Barrow    1.14 Wayne Simpson
2. David Stanton         3. 49 Johnny Grimes
4. Robert Griffis        5. Freddie Findley
6. 56 Lamar Gorum        Manager Bobby Simpson

Middle, l-r
1. David Hudson          2. 66 Earl McCutchin
3. 12 Mike Brock         4. 32 Jeff Cameron
5. 22 Jackie Leahey      6. 58 Robert Sheffield

Rear. l-r
1. 42 Mike Barrow        2. 80 Wallace Phillips
3. 56 Joe Way            4. 76 Robert Flanders
5. 62 Roger Greenwell    6. 52 Johnny Sigler
7. 74 John Sheffield     8. Coach Simmons

1964 record 6-0