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1933 Tigers
Front row, left to right: Ralph Burton, Calvin Warren, Marvin Meadows, Louis Holley, Bennie Little, Wilson Jolyyey, Durwood Melton, Orville Blake. Second row, left to right: Howard Golden, Tom Bowen, Jack Golden, Herman Caldwell.
Courtesty of Bennie Little from "Images of America - Tallassee"

A Century of THS Football
Part II - Early Years before O'Brien

By Michael Butler

Tallassee High School football actually began before John Edward O'Brien (the namesake of the stadium today) came to Tallassee. The first year on the gridiron was 1921. O'Brien arrived in 1936.

The first coach at Tallassee was Arthur Noble. Local historian Bill Goss researched and found some detail on some of Tallassee's early coaches that followed Noble.

Albert Edward Finlay from Luverne coached in 1925. W. L. Holmes coached in 1926 and '27. Emory University graduate John Frank Meacham from Grantville, Ga. took over in 1928.

1927 Team
Courtesty of Tallassee Board of Education from "Images of America - Tallassee"

Some of Tallassee's early football success should be contributed to a couple of young coaches who set the stage for O'Brien; Frank Hora DuBose and Albert Albert Edward Choate.

DuBose was just 24 when he assumed the head coaching position in 1929. He was born in Tuskegee and grew up in Auburn. The Auburn University graduate was 15-3-2 in two seasons in Tallassee. Byron B. Nelson, Sr., who would become school superintendent, served as an assistant coach under DuBose. DuBose lived to be 101, passing away in 2006 in Manhattan Beach, Cal.

Choate from Pulaski, Tenn., was 29 when he left the position of Athletic Director at Alcoa High School in Alcoa, Tenn. to take over as head football coach in Tallassee in 1931. He coached five years compiling a 32-11-3 record. He became the head football coach at Troy State Teachers College (now Troy University) in 1939.

During Choate's tenure in the early 30's, O'Brien was at helm at his alma mater of Tallapoosa County High School in Dadeville. From 1932-35 he had a 23-9-4 record. Although, THS and Dadeville became longtime rivals, they did not play during that stretch. O'Brien would go on to beat his former school in all ten meetings while at Tallassee.


F. H. DuBose was the industrial arts teacher at THS, shown in the far right of this 1929 photo.
Courtesty of Tallassee Board of Education from "Images of America - Tallassee"

Mackie Hornsby Pienezza was head cheerleader at THS in the late 20s and early 30s. Her daughter Olivia Solomon wrote the forward in the reprint of E. W. Wadsworth's "A History of Tallassee." In that section, she recalled one of her mother's favorite cheers.


1929 squad at the new high school
Courtesty of Bill Goss from Dec. 1929 Tallassee Mills "Briefs"

"My mother still sang and pranced to one of Tallassee's favorite songs when she was eighty years old," Olivia noted.

"Cheer, boys, cheer,
For Tallassee's got the ball!
Cheer, boys, cheer,
For Tallassee's got the ball!
There'll be a hot time
In the old town tonight!

The stadium grounds where Tallassee's early teams played is where games are still played today.

Virginia Golden recounted the interest in sports in Tallassee in her version of the book, "A History of Tallassee for Tallasseeans."

"Sports are widely enjoyed in Tallassee, baseball and football being the favorites, and the most popularly attended. Tallassee boasts the first lighted football and baseball field built in Elmore County," she wrote remembering the 1930s. "Tallassee's football team has been a winning one every year since it was organized in 1921."

Tallassee was a mill town known for strong boys and strong football teams. It had winning records every season from 1928-48. O'Brien's teams received national acclaim during the 57-game unbeaten streak from 1941-47.


1931 Tigers coached by A.E. Choate
Courtesty of Bennie Little from "Images of America - Tallassee"