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The 40's

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

The 40's

The 1940's began with a BANG!  The Blue Devils under second-year head coach Newt Godfree went 10-0 in the regular season with scores like 39-6, 35-7, 39-7, 40-0 and 48-6.

Unfortunately, Tifton ran into Valdosta in the South Georgia Football Association playoffs.  The game was played in Albany, and a huge crowd was expected.  Seating was increased to 3,000 for the contest, but according to reports in local papers, 5,000 people showed up.

Valdosta won that game 13-0 and went on to win the state Class B Championship 21-0 over Cedartown.  That game was also played in Albany.

All of the SGFA title games and the Class B title games were played in Albany during those years with  just a few exceptions.

Godfree left in 1941 and Tifton hired the legendary Alvin "Pig" Davis.  Davis' Blue Devils went 5-4-1 in the fall of 1941 behind the play of stars like Henry Bostick.

On November 21st of that year, Tifton defeated Fitzgerald 37-12 on Thanksgiving Day.  On December 7, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

The coach and several of his players left Tifton for the war before the next season.

The next few years were lean ones for the Blue Devils in numbers and in wins.  Some schools ceased all sporting activities, but Tifton carried on.  The Blue Devils went 7-12-3 during the next three years under three different coaches.

The team was so small, the name "Imps" was used to describe the "Baby Devils" in the local press.

In 1945 a new coach came in -- M.T. McDaniel.  Ticket prices had soared to 60 cents for adults and 30 cents for students, but the price of admission was well worth it.  Tifton was becoming one of the powers in high school football.

In 1946, Tifton went 8-3-1.  The Devils were 8-1-1 in the regular season before losing to eventual state champion Cairo in the South Georgia Football Association title game.

Tifton was then invited to play in the Strawberry Bowl in Hammond, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans.  The Devils took on Bogalusa in the Strawberry Bowl losing 26-12 after long road trip.

1946 marked the year the Devils relearned how to win.  It started a streak that still stands as arguably the greatest run in Blue Devil history.

Pig Davis returned to Tifton in 1947 and led his troops to an 8-2 record.  Among the notable players on that team was a sophomore named Virgil "Bud" Willis and little freshman named Johnny Lipsey.  Willis went on to be a captain at the University Alabama during the Bart Starr era and Lipsey went to the University of Georgia and eventually started at South Georgia.

The 1947 and 1948 seasons were marred by a pair of tough losses to Fitzgerald.  The Hurricanes had not beaten the Devils in Tifton on Thanksgiving in a decade when they defeated the Devils in 1947.  Fitzgerald not only defeated Tifton in 1948, the Hurricanes were state champions in that year.

In 1949, the Devils would not be denied.  In just their second year in the GHSA, they would go 11-1 beat Albany 33-6 in the conference championship.  Decatur managed to win the first of two consecutive state titles in 1949 by beating an injury-riddled Tifton 21-19.

Seniors Willis, and Bobby "Big Boy" Griffis and junior Lipsey were named all-region and all-state.  Sam Rigdon, Edwin Revels, Lamar Palmer, Lindsey, and Eugene Wood were also named to all-star lists.

Despite his penchant for poor mouthing, Davis  was named Coach of the Year.  In an article entitled "Pig Davis is the master bull-shooter of all time," The Albany Herald's Harley Bowers quotes Davis as saying that "...every time I mention Albany, we have to lock the gate to keep them from running.  They won't cause your boys any trouble."

He also stated, "Griffis won't hit anybody, faints at the site of blood and Grimsley is just too nice a guy to be playing football." It seems Pig Davis invented poor mouthing before Vince Dooley even left Auburn.

Some of Lipsey's numbers that year need repeating.  Described as an eel in a football uniform after the Valdosta game, Lipsey gained 166 yards in 21 tries in a 20-6 win over the Cats.  Against Cairo, Lipsey gained 131 yards and scored five TDs rushing on only 9 carries.  He was also 6 for 10 passing for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He rushed for 221 yards on nine carries against Americus.                        

Year Record Percent Devils Opp Coach
1940 10-1-0 91 327 76 Newt . Godfree
1941 5-4-1 55 161 111 Alvin "Pig" Davis
1942 2-3-2 43 72 121 Arthur L. Williams
1943 5-2-0 71 157 46 Orion Mitchell
1944 0-7-1 6 34 177 Sgt. Walter "Tiny" Cwiklinski
1945 3-4-1 44 70 72 M. T. McDaniels
1946 8-3-1 71 256 194 M. T. McDaniels
1947 8-2-0 80 173 59 Alvin "Pig" Davis
1948 7-2-0 78 222 92 Alvin "Pig" Davis
1949 11-1-0 92 384 142 Alvin "Pig" Davis
Totals 55-36-6   1634 998  

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