HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 44
A RESOLUTION HONORING THE
1970 FOREST HIGH SCHOOL BEARCATS
FOOTBALL TEAM ON THE
FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF WINNING
LITTLE DIXIE CONFERENCE TITLE AND FOR
AN OUTSTANDING 1970 SEASON.
WHEREAS, the Forest (MS) High School Bearcat Football Team in Forest, Mississippi, began its 1970 season as the defending Little Dixie Conference Champions; and
WHEREAS, in the previous season, the 1969 Forest Bearcats captured the conference title with a 10-0-1 record and was led by Head Coach Ken Bramlett, who continued his coaching success on the junior college level;
WHEREAS, the 1969 Forest squad continues to be recognized as one of the best teams in Bearcat history, as several players received scholarships to Southeastern Conference squads and other four-year colleges and junior colleges;
WHEREAS, the 1970 Forest Bearcats were not predicted to be as successful as the previous squad, as they began season action with a new head coach, Gary Risher, new assistants James C. “Bo” Clark and Billy Ray Dill; and a new athletic director, Ken Gordon;
WHEREAS, the 1970 season marked the first year of full integration for Forest High School and the majority of schools in MS, as the team included players of both races and an African-American coach, “Bo” Clark, for the time first time in school history; and
WHEREAS, the Bearcats started season action with a decisive victory over Neshoba Central, which was followed by successive wins over Raleigh, Brandon, Clinton, Pearl-McLaurin, Newton, Forest Hill, Carthage, Florence, and ending the regular season by rallying to defeat then-undefeated Morton to capture the North Little Dixie Conference title; and
WHEREAS, the Bearcats, whose superior season was driven by more than the yearning to succeed, intensively amplified all of their hard work, motivation and audacity, which were so apparent all through the season, for the final game that ultimately separated the men from the boys to take down Monticello by a score of 22-10, and take home the Little Dixie Conference Championship for the second consecutive year; and
WHEREAS, unfortunately, Head Coach Gary Risher was unable to be with his team during the championship battle due to the serious illness of his son, Robin, at a Jackson, Mississippi, hospital; and
WHEREAS, not to be deterred, the school administration, led by then Superintendent L. O. Atkins, Principals McClain Hatch and Milton Walker and others helped to provide a special telephone hookup for Coach Risher to be able to communicate with the assistant coaches during the Monticello game; and
WHEREAS, with an outstanding record of 11-0, the Bearcats achieved ultimate victory despite the many obstacles along the road to the championship, and they proved that success can be obtained by both races working together as a team for the same goal, despite numerous challenges, and
WHEREAS, the 1970 Bearcats team was comprised of the following talented student athletes: seniors, Mike Massey, Dave Gibson, Joe Buddy Madden, Billy Thompson, Ken Gordon, Johnny Payton, Bobby Latham, Bob Smiley, Bubby Johnston, Elbon Johnston, J. W. Clark, Rodney Russell, Lee Dukes, Gerald Harper and Henry Thomas; juniors, Walter Hatch, Randy Dilley, Ricky Dilley, Howard Chambers, Tye Gaddis, Raymond Robinson, Larry Risher, Phillip Broadhead, Terry Austin, Mike Vaughn, Jimmy Bradford, Willie Bradford, Charles Lyle, Lambert Lane, Robert Trotter, Tug Ledford, Jackie Calhoun, Jesse Lancaster, Lee Evans, Willie Bowie and Edmond Harvey; sophomores, Steve Gibson, Steve Tullos, Arthur Murrell, Eugene Braggs, Edward Patrick, Ken Melichar, Wally Rushing, Wardell Reed and David Lee; and managers, Grady Austin, Freddy Ledford and Sonny Gibbs;
WHEREAS, the Bearcats received tremendous support throughout the season from the All-Superior FHS Band, directed by Doug Harvel and Drum Major Ginny Lee; cheerleaders Gayle Walsh, Stacey Stegall, Wanda “Tutti” Calhoun, Belinda Wheeler, Martha Marler and Dea McCrory; and the school administration, faculty staff and student body; and
WHEREAS, members of the Forest community showed their support and appreciation of the team’s success by providing funds to send the 1970 Bearcats to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans for a second-straight year; and
WHEREAS, a special recognition ceremony is scheduled Friday, August 21, 2020, (later moved to Friday, Sept. 18, 2020) to honor the 1970 championship squad, cheerleaders and band members, during halftime of the Forest/Lake (Forest/Florence) high school football game at L.O. Atkins Field; and
WHEREAS, the 1970 Forest Bearcat Football Team will be always be known as the first integrated and undefeated championship squad in school history; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we do hereby commend the 1970 Forest High School Bearcats Football Team on the 50th anniversary of winning the Little Dixie Conference title and for an outstanding 1970 season.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to team coaches and members, Forest High School, Forest City Hall and to members of the Capitol Press Corps.
ADOPTED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, March 4, 2020, and signed by PHILLIP GUNN, SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, and TOM MILES, DISTRICT 75, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.