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The 30's

Tift County Football .........Through the Decades

The 30's

The 1930's started with a stumble.  Homer Sutton's first year at the helm of the Blue Devil ship was 1930, and it started with four consecutive losses.  But two of those losses were reversed when the conference declared that Moultrie and Cairo used ineligible players.

Sutton wound up with a 11-9-1 record including a pair of Thanksgiving losses to Fitzgerald, but he might be remembered most for a promise he kept to his '31 team.  He told them he would take them to the coast for a postseason game against powerhouse Glynn Academy if they beat Moultrie.

Tift did win that Moultrie game, but Sutton never made the trip.  Sutton moved schools, but the '32 team did make that trip to Glynn.  Riddled with injuries that year,  Tifton went 7-3 but lost that postseason game 37-0.

E.S. Hollingsworth played football and baseball at Mercer and took over the Tifton team in the fall of 1932.  He was 21-8-1 in three years.  Tifton went 8-2 in '33 losing only to Valdosta and Albany, which were much larger schools.  Tifton would not join the largest classification in the state to stay until late in the 60s.  In 1935, the Blue Devils' reputation earned them a bowl game.  Leon High in Tallahassee invited Tifton for a postseason game and tied the highly touted Leon Lions 7-7.

The Devils' reputation was not hurt by their invitation to be a part of the first big South Georgia high school football conference.  Up north, schools had already formed the North Georgia Football Association, and when the South Georgia Football Association formed, Tifton was a charter member.

These two conferences organized a "state championship" format in the 1930's that would eventually evolve into the Georgia High School Association that earnestly began governing high school sports.

Not all of the teams in southwest Georgia were invited to be a part of this conference.  Teams like Sylvester, Camilla, and Blakely were left out.  They formed their own conference, the Southwest Georgia Group.  As their growth allowed, they would become part of the SGFA.

In the 1935 game at Moultrie, the first printed reference to lights appears.  The local paper in Moultrie said in a preview article that the game was going to be played "under the flood lights."

In 1936, the flu bug once again bit the Blue Devils.  In 1917 and 1918, the flu was reportedly one of the primary reasons the seasons were cancelled.  In 1936, the Tifton-Moultrie game was postponed due to the quarantine law.  The Tifton-Douglas game was postponed and never made up.

Never making up a game always hurts the pocketbooks.  The 1930s were no exception.  Tickets were 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children.

1937 was a story of two completely different teams.  Tifton opened with a 40-0 win over the Sylvester Eagles.  The Devils would not score again for five weeks taking on some of the toughest competition in the state.

After losses to Valdosta, Moultrie, Thomasville, Albany, and Waycross, Spalding County came to Tifton to left with a 19-19 tie.  Spalding would finish 9-0-1 and won the Class B title game over Moultrie while Tifton finished with wins over undefeated Fitzgerald and Nashville.

The Nashville game might also be the first night game as it is the earliest reported game under lights.

In 1939, Coach Newt Godfree made his debut.  He was a big man that only coached a pair of seasons.  His 1939 team lost to Bainbridge before crushing Sylvester 71-0.  They then lost to Thomasville before beating Douglas 66-0.

They played hot and cold the rest of the year before routing rival Fitzgerald 54-6.  The inconsistency ended with the decade, however, as Godfree's team went 10-1 in 1940.


Year Record Percent Devils Opp


1930 6-3-0 67 111 142 Homer Sutton
1931 5-4-1 55 166 91 Homer Sutton
1932 7-4-0 64 170 69 E. S. (Elder) Hollingsworth
1933 8-2-0 80 176 49 E. S. (Elder) Hollingsworth
1934 6-2-1 72 129 50 E. S. (Elder) Hollingsworth
1935 5-3-2 60 182 101 W. T. Edwards
1936 6-3-0 67 171 72 W. T. Edwards
1937 3-5-1 39 97 168 W. T. Edwards
1938 4-4-2 50 118 92 W. T. Edwards
1939 6-4-0 60 271 122 Newt Godfree
Totals 56-34-7   1591 956  

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