LOOKING BACK: Southampton High School wins state ‘AA’ championship
Published 7:31 pm Monday, December 18, 2023
Fifty years ago, on Dec. 8, 1973, the Southampton High School “Indians” football team, led by Coach Wayne Cosby, traveled to Lynchburg to play the Brookville High School “Bees” for the State “AA” championship. Southampton had just completed a successful 12-0 season. Southampton won the game with a score of 13 to 7. With that win, the coveted Virginia State “AA” championships trophy was awarded to the Southampton High School football team. That 1973 football team, at that time, brought eastern Virginia, the peanut district, and Southampton High School their first state championship in “AA” playoff history.
It was a cold – snowy – winter day in Lynchburg. The weather impacted and complicated the game for the Indians – and the Bees. Following the game, Southampton Coach Wayne Cosby summed it up. “We’re No. 1 at last,” he said. “It was perhaps the toughest game we have ever played. Actually, I think Harrisonburg had a better ball team than Brookville, but we never got a break. Everything seemed to go their way. It just seemed that we could do nothing right.”
“We pushed them around all day, but we just couldn’t put it over. The cold, wet, snowy weather hindered our passing and option plays — and the fumbles and key penalties just seemed to turn up.”
The Dec. 13, 1973 edition of The Tidewater News carried an editorial – in tribute to the team:
FIRST STATE GRID TITLE
State AA Champions for 1973. Sounds good doesn’t it! For the second straight year Coach Wayne Cosby’s Southampton High School Indians churned their way into the state football championship game for AA schools. The Indians were runners-up last year. This time, they brought the bacon home after defeating Brookville 13-7 in a cold, snowy encounter Saturday at Lynchburg.
Cosby and his assistants Larry Logan and Jack Hale did their usual outstanding job of preparing the “Big Red.” The players, 42 strong, went out and won the first AA championship ever for a Franklin-Southampton-Isle of Wight school.
The county school board authorized an official resolution of recognition and appreciation. Others will be adopted and interested parties are at work now planning appropriate recognition programs. The victory belongs most of all to the athletes, but their reflected glory is of incalculable benefit to all residents in the Southampton area. A state championship always produces widespread favorable publicity helpful to any area.
The team has done so much for all of us. Now, appreciative individuals can do something tangible for them. Last year, donations provided the funds to outfit the squad with smart looking wool letter jackets, “Really the only winter coats some of the boys had,” Southampton High School principal Bill Wright reminds us.
Following is a summarization of the game, based on a report submitted to The Tidewater News – by Thurman Beale, 1973 Southampton High School Football Team Statistician:
Early in the first quarter of the game, with good field advantage, quarterback Will Kitchen handed-off the football to fullback Jackie Robertson who dashed up the middle of the line for a touchdown; however, Will Kitchen’s extra point attempt was not successful – the score being 6 to 0.
Near the middle of the first quarter, Southampton linebacker Melvin Sturdifen blocked a Brookville punt at the 50-yard line. Following a series of Southampton errors and penalties, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Brookville quarterback Monty Montgomery to tailback Jimmy Ferguson – and an extra point by Steve Julian – put Brookville ahead by a score of 7 to 6.
Brookville held on to their one-point lead through the third quarter; but, early in the fourth quarter, Southampton stepped ahead. Southampton’s Charles Novell recovered a Brookville fumble at the Brookville 38 yard-line. Then, Jackie Robertson – the game’s leading rusher with 127 yards – following several nice gains, took the football 20 yards up the middle of the line for a second Southampton touchdown.
Will Kitchen added the kick which put Southampton ahead with a score of 13 to 7. Southampton’s Steve Warren picked off his third pass of the day to stymie Brookville’s last effort with just 0:25 seconds left in the game.
Brookville coach Jim Worley explained in disgust “We just clammed up under pressure and fell apart.”
CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.