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The 80's

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

The 80's

When Blue Devil fans think back on the 1980's, inevitably their thoughts turn to Gene Brodie.  While he came to the Friendly City in the 1970s and retired in the 1990s, but the 1980s will forever bear his stamp.

Brodie meant more to Tifton and Tift County than just football.  He motivated the entire community to build a stadium that remains one of the finest in the state.  The track, the Andy Summers Racquet Center, the Devil Diamond, the practice field....the list goes on.  Gene Brodie was Tift County football and athletics during the 1980s.

Brodie's Blue Devils, in turn, left marks all over their opponents.  LaGrange still bears a few of those marks as the Grangers suffered the worst loss in a state championship game ever in any classification.  You're smiling now if you were fortunate enough to have witnessed that 59-6 beating in December of 1983.

But the 1983 season had its beginning in 1982 when all of those seniors that won the heralded championship ring suffered through four losses.  Two of those losses came with two weeks of each other against No. 1 Valdosta that went on to win the state title.

Take one step back, and the 1981 Blue Devils might have been one of the best teams in Tifton history.  Tift spent eight weeks as the state's No. 1 ranked team before losing in consecutive weeks by a total of six points to Thomasville and Valdosta.

Tift's over all record in the 1980s was an impressive 71-42 for a winning percentage of 63%.  Only the 1940s was a better decade for the Blue Devils.

The first half of the 1980s saw Tift go 45-15, but the second half of the decade began with Brodie's only losing season -- a 2-8 year in 1985 -- and the Devils went 26-27 in those five seasons.

You can't always judge a book by its record, though.  Take for instance the 1988 team.  After an outstanding 1987 campaign, Tift football was on the way up.  Because of that, no one wanted to take on the brutally physical Blue Devils.

Enter Robert E. Lee High of Montgomery.  With 2,100 students, Lee had lost only one regular season game since 1985 and was a fixture on the USA Today Top 25 poll.  The Generals helped break in a new Tift QB with a 28-0 beating.

And Lee was only one of the four top 3-ranked teams Tift played that season!

The list of great individual players from the decade might not end with Ken Hobby, but it sure starts with him.  1980 was Hobby's senior season, and he threw for 1,374 yards bringing his career passing totals to a staggering 4,245.  Oh by the way he also ran for over 1,500 yards!

There can be no exhaustive record of all the individual efforts.  How many names would it take to do the 1983 team justice?  But Brian Massingill is on the short list.  He threw 40 touchdowns and 3,039 yards in two years.  That's even more impressive when considering Michael Turner and Terry Revels ran for 1,410 and 908 yards, respectively, in one of those years (1983).

Darrien Teals still holds a number of Tift receiving records:  most career yards, most kick off return yards, and touchdowns in a season (tied) to name a few.  Jay Johnson's 1987 season earned him all-state honors at receiver.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution first team all-state performers in the decade include Ricky Holt, Casey King, Willie Hill, Turner, Stan Shiver, Massingill, Teals, Tye Cottle and Bryce Abbott.  Holt and Hobby were also named Parade All-Americans.

Year Record Percent Devils Opp Coach
1980 7-4-0 64 302 172 Gene Brodie
1981 9-2-0 82 290 73 Gene Brodie
1982 8-4-0 67 279 119 Gene Brodie
1983 14-1-0 93 486 110 Gene Brodie
1984 7-4-0 64 264 144 Gene Brodie
1985 2-8-0 20 108 188 Gene Brodie
1986 6-5-0 55 151 164 Gene Brodie
1987 8-4-0 67 256 92 Gene Brodie
1988 5-5-0 50 163 171 Gene Brodie
1989 5-5-0 50 181 155 Gene Brodie
Totals 57-42-0   2480 1388  

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