By Alvin Richardson
On Tuesday, December 11. Morgan County was one of several schools honored at Mercedes Benz Stadium as a “Team of the Decade” and the school was represented by Otha Knight, Eugene Sidwell and Richard Jones in a ceremony between games at the Georgia high school football championships. The prestigious distinction was given to Morgan County for their incredible run of success between the years of 1955 to 1962 when the Bulldogs won five state titles in eight years and compiled an unheard of record of 91-6-3 (.934).
Eugene Sidwell and Richard Jones played on Morgan County’s first state title team in 1955 under Charlie Brake. Sidwell was the starting center on offense and a linebacker on defense and Jones was a starting end who went both ways in an era when there was far less substitution than there is today. Knight was an end on the 1962 championship team who played on both sides of the ball as well. That team, as well as the 1956, 1958, 1959 teams, was coached by Bill Corry.
Knight remembered those days fondly and said, “Players during our time were very competitive both in games and at practice. Most of us were hard-working farm boys and all we wanted to do was win.” Knight went on, “What I remember was that it was a good group of guys who pulled for each other and played hard on every play.” Knight only played his junior and senior years because he lived outside Rutledge and didn’t have a ride home. He only got to play those two seasons because he finally got a ride to Rutledge but he still had to walk five miles out to Keencheefoonee Road where the family farm was located. Knight noted about the day at Mercedes Benz, “It was an honor to represent Morgan County and get to spend time with Richard (Jones) and Eugene (Sidwell).”
Morgan County’s run of success over those eight years ended with state titles in 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1962. In 1955 Morgan went 13-0 and defeated Vidalia 21-12 in the finals. In 1956 the Bulldogs posted a record of 12-0-1 and beat Blakely-Union (Early County) 13-7 in the title game. In 1958 Morgan County went 12-1 and bested Mitchell County 20-7 for the Class B title and backed it up in 1959 by going 14-0 and stopping Brooks County 7-0 for the championship. Then came 1962 and a team that many believe to be the most dominant in Bulldog history. That squad went 14-0 and hammered Hawkinsville in the title bout by a final score of 39-7.
The plaque Morgan County was awarded will be placed on permanent display at the high school.