Wright Bazemore, the legendary Valdosta coach, not only won a bunch of state championship games. He didn’t lose many, either. His record in those games was 13-2-1. (Ties counted as state titles, too.)
One loss was against Athens, whose quarterback was Fran Tarkenton. That was on the road.
The other came in Valdosta in 1950. The opponent was Rockmart, a team that was only 5-5 the season before, 3-5-1 the season after. But in between was one of the most dominant teams in state history.
The 1950 Rockmart Yellow Jackets went 12-0 and outscored their opponents 430-85. Rockmart went on to win the old Peanut Bowl, an annual game in Columbus against a top Northeastern team, this one out of Holyoke, Mass. Folks in Rockmart claimed it as a national title.
Most memorable, however, was the Class A title game in Valdosta, a 275-mile trip. There were no Interstate highways in 1950.
Rockmart won 52-21. That’s still the most points scored by a winning opponent on Valdosta’s famed Cleveland Field. Bazemore would never lose another playoff game, much less a title game, in the home stadium that now bears his name.
Max Mason, Rockmart’s team captain in 1950, was no Fran Tarkenton, but he’s a name worth knowing.
Mason was the Atlanta Journal/Atlanta Constitution Class A back of the year, and he was a Wigwam Wiseman All-American. Mason had several scholarship offers and chose to play at the University of Kentucky under Bear Bryant. Mason died in 2008 at age 74 in his hometown, where he lived almost his entire life. He had been a chief chemist at a local cement manufacturing plant.
Here are GHSF Daily’s choices for the best players in the history of the current Region 7-AA schools.
*Armuchee: Larry Ballard (1994)
*Chattooga: Senorise Perry (2009)
*Coosa: Mike Cahoon (1958)
*Dade County: Joseph O’Keefe (2003)
*Gordon Central: Dorian Porch (2004)
*Model: Mitchell Shellnut (1954)
*Pepperell: Ken Irvin (1990)
*Rockmart: Max Mason (1950)
Best player in school history series
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