Bruce versus Calhoun City isn’t just a football rivalry. It’s a way of life for citizens living in the two towns or anyone who has ever attended either school. It has produced state champions, several NFL players and legendary stories that no box score can capture.
The rivalry is best summed up by the average score over the 62-game series – Bruce 15, Calhoun City 13.
The games are typically that nail-biting.
Seven of the last 10 have been decided by seven points or less.
The first of those was in 1931 when Calhoun City topped Bruce 7-6.
The only recap of the game I could find in an old Monitor-Herald showed that J.R. Bradford was the team captain for the Wildcats, and a missed extra point late in the game proved to be the difference.
Bruce edged the Wildcats 25-24 in 1965. Trojan QB?Larry Dean Stewart, who later in life would become nationally known as the “Secret Santa,” salted the game away for Bruce when he raced 30 yards down the sideline on a fake punt from the Trojan 23 yard line with barely a minute to play in the game. Sounded like quite the gutsy call.
Calhoun City returned the favor in 1966 winning 7-6.
Bruce had scored on a Joe Turner touchdown run, but Darrell Logan’s extra point missed. Roger Goodson punched in the Wildcats’ touchdown from 8-yards out and recorded the PAT?for the 1-point victory.
Richard Bryant’s kicking was the difference for the Trojans in 1972 when they eked out a 21-20 win. The Wildcats led 20-14 after a Barry Corbitt touchdown, but Danny Alldredge, who scored all three touchdowns for the Trojans, put Bruce back in front, and Bryant delivered the game-winning kick.
The Trojans won the 1986 matchup 14-13 despite losing six fumbles in the game.
The Trojans ran only four plays in the fourth quarter as Fredrick Welch led a time-consuming, length-of-the-field Wildcat drive to score with 49 seconds left. But Chris Bailey’s extra point sailed wide left, and Bruce survived with a 1-point win.
The latest one-point game came in 1994 when Bruce was trailing 13-0 midway through the fourth quarter.
My good friend Casey Clark was on this Trojan team and often tells the story of Coach Darrell Logan’s halftime speech when he told the team, who was trailing 13-0, “we have them right where we want them.”
Casey said after getting thoroughly whipped by the Wildcats in the first half, they looked around at each other and wondered “what is he talking about?”
Carlos Armstrong hit Dan Campbell with a 22 yard touchdown to cut the margin to 13-7 with four minutes to play. Marcus Stephens then jumped on Joey Embry’s onside kick for the Trojans.
Campbell would power in from one yard out to tie the game with 44 seconds to play. Embry nailed the extra point to lift Bruce to a 14-13 advantage.
Calhoun City wasn’t done, however. Jerome Tucker connected with Santos Armstrong on a 48-yard pass to the Bruce 2-yard line with 11 seconds left. The Wildcats had no time outs and Armstrong tried to lunge into the end zone on the rushed last play, but was stuffed, preserving the comeback win for the Trojans.
There are countless other stories of games decided in the final seconds. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Friday is another.
You may email Joel McNeece at firstname.lastname@example.org