Information needed about Houston’s first high school football champs

March 13, 2013 

The first school from Houston County to win a state football championship could be featured on an upcoming Georgia Public Broadcasting documentary, but more information is needed about the team and their season.

Houston County Training School, which was located in Perry, housed the high school for black students in the south part of the county before segregation ended. In the fall of 1969, they earned the state championship in football playing in the Georgia Interscholastic Association, which oversaw high school football for schools with black students in the state until 1970, when integration was in place and the GIA dissolved.

Coach Elijah Weatherspoon took the school to that championship. He spent two years at the school before transferring to Rumble Junior High School after integration, where he coached and served as athletics director until his retirement in 2001.

The state championship game was played in Perry at a field near the school.

The Houston Indians’ first touchdown came in the first quarter after a blocked punt. Henry Green ran the ball in but the extra point kick failed. In the fourth quarter, Green again went in the end zone from the one yard line, and quarterback David Small threw the two-point conversion to Arthur Green.

The final score was 14-0, bringing the school the state championship.

“It was one of the best teams that I ever worked with,” Weatherspoon said. “The guys were just super. They came out to learn and were good athletes. I really enjoyed working with them. They all behaved very well. They worked hard but we had a lot of fun, too.”

Weatherspoon said that from time to time he sees one of the players from that team and the reunions are tremendous.

“It is just like seeing family because we were a family,” Weatherspoon said. “When we practiced, when we played. We shared with each other and depended on each other, and nothing was too hard that we couldn’t do together.”

The memories of the 1969 season and the state championship come back strong for Weatherspoon whenever he is asked about the season or runs into one of his former players.

“It is a thing that we have carried with all these years -- how hard they worked and how well they played,” Weatherspoon said. “I will never forget them.”

GPB is working on a television special about the GIA and the athletes and coaches.

Newspaper accounts of the GIA teams are in many cases sketchy or even nonexistent. Many of the trophies and stats kept from the Indians’ games and other teams from the GIA have been lost or misplaced. For example, the GHSA has an entire building set aside to house the GHSA records and only a few boxes of GIA records.

It has been a long time since Houston County Training School even existed much less fielded a football team. The trophy they earned that night has long disappeared, their stats probably in a box in someone’s attic. But somewhere out there are men who for a time were the greatest high school football players in the state.

If you have any information about the 1969 Indians state championship team or are a former player, please contact me at 396-2467.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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