Southampton celebrates its first state football title at reunion

Published 5:58 pm Thursday, October 19, 2023

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By Thurman “Big Red” Beale
Contributing writer

Friday night, Oct. 13, during halftime of the Southampton 43-0 win over Greensville County, the 1973 State AA Champion Indians, at that time labeled as “The Big Red Machine,” gathered in the end zone and were introduced and recognized on the field for their tremendous accomplishments. The coaches, players, cheerleaders and fans all turned out to celebrate that magic season.

Clad in their State Championship attire and charged up from so many great memories, the players told stories and relived events like they were yesterday. No tall tales necessary since the 1973 SHS team created unmatched real life statistics and racked up points as they rolled to the first State AA title.

During the 13 games the Champions amassed 4743 yards in total offense while allowing only 1272. The Coach Larry Logan led defense held their opponents to only 47 rushing yards per game. The first undefeated season since 1964 was simply unmatched.

The quick and physical Cosby lead squad opened the season with a 51-6 win over JFK and a 41-6 conquest of Gloucester. They shutout Smithfield 57-0, Windsor 35-0, Forest Glen 56-0 and Franklin 33-0. During the regular season, the “Big Red Machine” dazzled their opponents with 410 points while allowing only 32. The playoffs became a little more competitive, but the Indians beat Park View 35-6 in the Regional, Harrisonburg 20-7 in the Semifinal and won the State final over the Brookville Bees 13-7.

The 13-0-0 record was a tremendous accomplishment for the team, bragging rights for the many “Big Red” fans and a big boost to a rural Virginia community that loves those Friday night lights. For Coach Wayne Cosby and assistants Larry Logan, Jack Hale and Larry Whitesell, it was the culmination of much dedication and work.

Coach Cosby summed it up best: “The team, the cheerleaders, the fans and the community all jelled together to make it happen.”

And what was celebrated Friday night was not only the 1973 championship, but that sense of camaraderie. “Yes, I saw many that I had not seen in many years, especially at our reception, but I enjoyed being a part of that camaraderie that still exists.”