Turnovers … by Alan B. Gibson

Posted September 20, 2023 at 12:15 pm

A spectacular reunion
Kudos to the organizers of Friday night’s reunion for the “First Era” of football at Clinton County High School, those who were involved in the game when it was first introduced at our school on the varsity level from 1973-1981.
While I didn’t play football in high school, attending Friday’s event while I covered the program for these pages allowed me to remember a ton of stories, tall tales, as well as seeing some friends and classmates that I hadn’t been around for many, many years – as well as many who I see on a regular basis.
Perfectly planned, the reunion was well attended by players, coaches, support staff and cheerleaders from those year, many who I went to school with (Class of ‘76) back when football was still a new sport at CCHS.
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of that first CCHS varsity football team that took the field in 1973, Friday’s reunion was a special night for those who wore the blue and white in those early days.
While the planning committee had plenty of organized segments of the program throughout the afternoon, the schedule was loose enough that everyone had plenty of opportunity to just “hang out” with each other and catch up on where they have been for the past five decades or so.
Again – congratulations to the planning committee on a great job, and thanks for going the extra mile to bring this event to fruition for not only the old, but to give a chance for the “new” to get to know where their football roots hadvecome from.

A spectacular win, as well.
The stands at Bulldog Field were full following the aforementioned reunion with fans taking in the Clinton County vs. Jenkins game. A great many of those fans were holdover former players who had just attended the reunion
Those on hand were treated to a superb performance by the current gridiron Dawgs, who managed to manhandle their Cavalier opponents from the opening kickoff to the closing horn.
Coach Rocky Tallent and team picked up a nice and well-deserved 47-0  “W” on the night, taking their record to the 2-2 mark going into this Friday night’s contest against  Edmonson County, again right here on Bulldog Field.
It should be another great Friday Night Lights atmosphere for fans, with a 7:00 slated kickoff against the Wildcats, also a 2A class team that will bring a 1-4 record to the game.
Expect temperatures at kickoff to be in the low to mid 60s, dropping into the mid to upper 50s as the game progresses.
Go Dawgs! as we look to move our record over to a winning mark.

Reminded of one of my favorite sports stories.
Long-time friend, writer, media partner and a co-public address announcer (football and softball), Randy Speck reminded me this week of one of my favorite stories from years of sitting behind the microphone at Clinton County Basketball games.
The passing last week of Howard Tallent prompted Randy to remember an occurrence that we were both just inches away from, back in 1982.
Randy was working color for the CCHS basketball WANY broadcast, along with longtime “Voice” of the Bulldogs, Sid Scott, I, sitting to Sid’s immediate left.
At the time, with the official table being on the opposite side of the floor than it is now, the WANY broadcasters were seated with the game table officials, putting me, as a young public address announcer, to Sid’s immediate right.
The scene was the 1982 16th District Tournament championship game, and Clinton County faced long-time rival Cumberland County, with both teams full of talent and both teams touted as legitimate 4th Region contenders.
As Randy correctly remembered , the game was nip and tuck throughout the night, with both teams holding narrow leads throughout the game.
With the contest coming down to the wire, and it not looking particularly good for our Bulldogs, Sid became convinced that one of the (then two man team) officials on the floor, long-time referee Phil Burkeen, was favoring the visiting Panthers and was about to “steal” the game from our home boys.
Howard Tallent was an Albany City Police Officer at the time and was watching the game from the lobby end of the literally standing room only packed  Clinton County gymnasium.
During a time-out, Sid, who was also the Mayor of Albany at the time, summoned Tallent to our table, along with his partner, and when he asked Sid, his boss, what he needed, while still off the air during the time-out, the Voice made his demands very clear.
I remember it like it was yesterday, Sid, leaning forward from his bench, very sternly told Officer Tallent “If Clinton County loses this game, that big, bald headed referee spends the night in the Clinton County Jail.”
Tallent was amused with his boss’ statement, at which point, Sid assured him he was drop-dead serious.
Tallent then asked Sid what he was supposed to charge Burkeen with, and Sid made that plain as well.
“That’s your job, and if you want to keep it, you’ll do what I say.”
Luckily, for Burkeen, Tallent and Sid, Clinton County bounced back in the final minutes to capture the win over Cumberland County and Burkeen returned after the game to his Bowling Green home, none the wiser.
Randy says he ran into Tallent several years later and reminded him of that night, to which the then retired officer said he remembered watching the rest of the game more intently, Burkeen, the score, and most of all, Sid, all the time wondering what he would do if Clinton County had, in fact, lost the game.
He told Randy that Sid apologized to him after the game, and all was well.
Phil Burkeen was a staple on the basketball floor for many years, as well as on the 4th Region softball field as an umpire.  Today, the Warren East softball field plays homage to the longtime softball coach and multi-sport official as the Phil Burkeen Softball Field.
After a break from basketball officiating of a few years to nurse some bad knees, Burkeen returned to basketball officiating, and one night I told him, prior to the start of the varsity game, the whole story, informing him of just how close he had come – one more bad call, in fact – to spending the night in the Clinton County pokey.
Phil looked at me in disbelief and made his way out of the dressing room and over to where Sid was preparing for the night’s game broadcast.
Sid and Phil had a good long laugh about it all before it was over, and the two recounted the game and the Mayor’s order, not only on that night, but several other times when they met at games as well.
Just one of those things that can go on at the Official Table that fans never know happened.
R.I.P. Howard Tallent, and thanks Randy for the reminder of that 1982 chain of events that turned out well for all involved.

1982 District Crowd