Believe it or not, the AHSAA once played championship games in football that had no provision for overtime to be played. In the previous playoff games, overtime was created because the winner had to move on to the next round. But the AHSAA decided in the championship game to just declare co-champions. This had been the case since the playoffs were created in 1966. But on December 3, 1971, Abbeville and Oneonta tied 0-0 to become the first co champions in AHSAA history.
It would eventually happen on three other occasions before the rule was changed. Andalusia and Athens fought to a 7-7 tie in 1976 and three years later Jackson and Colbert County tied 0-0 in Jackson to be the third set of co champions. The last co champions were Berry High School and Enterprise who ended up deadlocked 10-10 in 1982 in a meeting of Hall of Fame coaches- Bob Finley from Berry and Bill Bacon from Enterprise.
When Oneonta and Abbeville met for the 2A crown fifty years ago, both had won with stifling defenses. Oneonta was undefeated at 12-0 and had given up an average of 3.6 points per game for their great coach Hugh O'Shields. O'Shields at one time was the winningest coach in AHSAA history with 225 victories. The Redskins had only one close regular season game, a 14-7 win over Pell City. Oneonta ended the regular season ranked number one in the state. They proceeded then to roll through Susan Moore and Washington County to make it to the '71 finals. Below are Oneonta coaches Andy Page and Hugh O'Shields.
Abbeville had a similar season in 1971, steamrolling opponents through the first seven games before defeating Eufaula, Headland and Geneva County by closer scores to finish the regular season 10-0 and ranked number two. The Yellow Jackets gave up only 5.2 points for the season. But the star of the Abbeville squad was without a doubt the great Leroy Cook. The 6'4, 215 pound linebacker had been on some kind of All State team since he was a sophomore. Abbeville had a record of 30-3-1 during Cook's last three seasons. He not only was leader of the defense but played running back on offense and had rushed for 1,127 yards in the regular season. After graduation he would go on to be an All American defensive end at the University of Alabama.
Abbeville entered with a 12 game win streak and Oneonta had won the last 17 games in a row.
The game was played at Boaz to accommodate the bigger crowd, a common occurrence in the early days of the playoffs. The championship contest was held in a cold, steady rain. Oneonta won the stat race with 229 yards of offense and had the best chance to score on the first possession of the game. The Redskins drove 67 yards after the opening kickoff to gain a first down at the Abbeville 11. A loss, a sack and two incomplete passes stopped Oneonta after they had held the ball for 10 straight minutes.
Abbeville's best chance to score came about in the 2nd quarter when Cook forced a fumble by Oneonta's star Jim Patton. But the Redskin defense shut down Abbeville from there. The Yellow Jackets never got closer than the Oneonta 37 yard line in the game and had but six first downs and 102 yards of offense. Oneonta's big fullback Ricky Sanders rushed for 161 yards on 29 carries.
With only four senior starters in the line up in 1971, the following season the Redskins would leave no doubt. They went 13-0 in 1972, defeating Cordova 43-13 in the 2A championship game. Below is a Crimson Tide photo of Leroy Cook.
The Montgomery Advertiser story of the game written by Roy Thomas.