Zeke Night has been 30 years in the making at TRM
By By RANDY WINTON Sports Writer
Wil Riggs was deliberate, almost slow even, as he carted his way through the long tunnel of T.R. Miller fans at Brewton Municipal Stadium Friday night.
Even as a sixth-grader, Riggs understood the weight of the moment. They had all come to honor the man sitting next to him in the passenger seat.
It was a beautifully-executed game plan. Every detail from the Tiger football players donning "Zeke" t-shirts in pre-game warmups to the
assembled throng of well-wishers lining either side of the procession for 60 yards and even down to the cart itself, a John Deere Gator, was perfect.
When Andrew Johnson, better known as "Zeke" to those who love the red and black, finally reached midfield and received a plaque and the recognition he so richly deserved after 30 years of dedicated work, he was amply satisfied.
Yet when so many wanted to chronicle the closing moments of "Zeke Johnson
Day" on their trusty Kodaks, Zeke politely declined.
As the Tigers prepared for the opening kickoff of the 2004 playoffs against West Blocton, Johnson had his mind on things far more important to him than
recognition. He had a job to do, just as he has done so well for the past
He had a game to manage.
So he has. For the past 30 years, whether as the school's custodian (a
job from which he retired 10 years ago) or the athletic department's head equipment manager, Zeke Johnson is the true Most Valuable Player of the program.
If anyone knows Zeke, it is Riggs. Not only have the two been teamed up since the latter began his coaching tenure at T.R. Miller in 1986 – first as an assistant and then as head coach in 1989 – but Johnson was part of the Tiger program when Riggs was running in the backfield during his playing days.
Since 1989, they have been riding the wave of success, which includes four state championships, countless semifinal appearances and playoff victories, the winningest program in the state of Alabama in the 1990s and beyond.
All told, the two have celebrated 196 victories since Riggs took over.
Johnson most wants to celebrate win No. 200. If the Tigers take four
more victories in the playoffs, No. 200 would represent the fifth state
championship in the Riggs era. "Yeah, that