Each year when Savannah State homecoming rolls around alumni and friends alike share their memories of their time at the college by the sea. As we prepare for Homecoming 2017, lets look back at a couple of the historic football teams that deserve to be mentioned in conversations this year but more than likely won’t.
These trio of Tiger teams did something special 25, 50 and 75 years ago.
The 1992 team coached by William “Bill” Davis have the distinction of being the only Savannah State football team to make post-season play. It was 25 years ago that this team made the Division II playoffs.
The Tigers only had three home games and played in two classics. Savannah State played Bethune-Cookman in the Gateway Classic in Jacksonville, Florida and played Tuskegee in a classic in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
During the season, SSC (as it was proudly known back then) had three Division I-AA teams on the schedule and defeated two of them.
Savannah State started the season with wins over Bethune-Cookman (31-21), Tuskegee (35-24), Clark Atlanta (21-7) and Alabama A&M (31-14) before suffering back-to-back losses to Georgia Southern (21- 7) and Albany State (33-24). The Tigers bounced back to defeat Morris Brown (30- 15), Livingstone (63-21) and Morehouse (54-0) but fell to Fort Valley State (22- 13) before closing out the regular season with a win over Miles (73-6).
Heading into that game against Miles, the Tigers needed three things to happen for a shot at the Division II playoffs. Savannah State needed a big win over Miles, a loss by Fort Valley State and a loss by North Alabama. The Tigers obliterated Miles, Albany State beat Fort Valley State 29-10 and Valdosta State tied North Alabama 24-24. Those along with a strong non-conference schedule helped the Tigers reach the playoffs. Savannah State was ousted by the eventual national champions Jacksonville State in the first round, 41-16.
SSC had many weapons on that team. Quarterback Chad Alexander, center Steve Aycock, tailback Lucius Cole, wide receiver Doug Grant and defensive lineman Orlando Dean were all named to the all conference squad. Grant also received All American honors and the awarded the Alonso S. “Jake” Gaither Award which recognizes the top football athlete from a historically black college or university.
Daryl “Brick” McNeil was the team’s offensive coordinator while Edwin Bailey and Bryant Swinson shared duties of working with the offensive line. David Coleman was a student assistant who mentored the running backs. George James was the defensive coordinator. Assisting James were Ken McWhorter (outside linebackers), Mike Wallace (defensive backs) and Westley McGriff (linebackers) who was a graduate assistant.
The 1967 squad was coached by Leo Richardson.
They finished the season with a 6-2-1 mark as they won the Southeastern Athletic Conference title. That was 50 years ago.
That season, the Tigers defeated Albany State (15-7), Clark College (16-7), Edward Waters (13- 8), Livingstone (15-6), Morris (20-14) and Lane (20-0) while losing to Alabama State (22-8) and Alabama A&M (23-0). Savannah State tied Fort Valley State 6-6.
The Tigers only averaged 16.7 points a game but their defense wrecked havoc on opponents, yielding just 6.2 points a game. Richardson, who also served as the SSC men’s basketball coach, won the Coach of the Year Award.
Those making the all conference team were running back Frank Bell, offensive linemen Willie Armstead and Isiah Berry, wide receiver David Truell, defensive linemen Judson Brown and Bobby Carter, linebacker Henry Butts and defensive back Willie Dixon.
Assisting Richardson with the team was offensive coach Richard Washington and defensive coach John Mason.
75 years ago, during the 1942 campaign, the Tigers were under the name Georgia State. John Myles was in his first season as head coach. The team played six games and won three. That was good enough to win the South Atlantic League crown.
The Tigers posted a 3-2-1 record. They beat Allen (8-0), Voorhees (30-0) and Claflin (26-0) while losing games to Bethune-Cookman (13-7) and Benedict (12-6). Georgia State and Paine played to a scoreless tie that season. Following the 1942 season, there was no football at the school until 1946, because of World War II.