Tigers honor first state title team

Published 6:01 am Thursday, October 8, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
The 1969 state champion T.R. Miller Tigers set the tone for the school’s winning tradition, school officials told former players during a weekend reunion.
Organized by current head coach Jamie Riggs, the reunion brought back players from the 1969 season, along with cheerleaders, coaches and administrators. The group enjoyed a tailgate party and recognition ceremony before the game, then shared lunch and watched a DVD presentation commemorating the 1969 season on Saturday.
Alan Baker, a state representative who is a former player and coach for T.R. Miller, said the players might not realize the “tremendous impact” they had on the community and the school.
Former quarterback Bucky Phillippi — now a pathologist in Meridian, Miss. — said the team appreciated the recognition.
Joe McFerrin, who was principal at T.R. Miller for two years and went on to work at other schools, said the Tigers’ score is the first he seeks in the sports pages on Saturday morning.
Coach Mack Wood’s son Russ, himself a former University of Alabama football player, talked about the impact the Tigers and the state championship had on his father. Mack Wood went on to win two more state championships during a long and successful career at Elba High School. But T.R. Miller remained close to his heart, Russ Wood said.
Phillippi joked that if Coach Wood had a game plan, he never knew it.
Phillippi thanked Riggs and the T.R. Miller staff and boosters for organizing the reunion. “It was my privilege to play for y’all,” he said. “I’m just glad to be back.”
Horton said the community support helped the team.
Riggs said the 1969 team left an important legacy, including the tradition that the community travels with the team to cheer on the players wherever they go. And no matter how T.R. Miller is performing in a season, the opposing teams have certain expectations.
The DVD created for the reunion was produced by Riggs’ son Mikel, a former T.R. Miller player now attending school at Auburn. Weaving player interviews with game footage and recordings that Mack Wood made in preparation for a book, the DVD tells the story of the 1969 season. Coach Riggs said the DVD, which is available for sale at T.R. Miller High School, is the first of several that will chronicle the school’s championship teams.
On the DVD, former players talk about the season.

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