The O'Brien Streak: This is not a rant. There is not even a soapbox nearby. It's just a chance to set the "record" straight.
If you're a Tallassee Tiger fan, you should be familiar with the late legend John Edward "Hot" O'Brien. The football stadium is named after him.
He is probably best known for a stretch from 1941-47 when his Tallassee football team did not lose a single game. They not only won, they dominated - shutting out most of the teams they faced over the course of seven seasons.
There is one issue with the O'Brien streak. It is an unbeaten streak, not a win streak. Well, there was a 33-game "win" streak during that span, but the 57-game streak is an unbeaten streak. Why?
There was a tie. A tie is not a win. We used to compare it to having to kiss your sister.
The tie came in 1944. Tallassee had won 33 in-a-row dating back to the fourth game of the 1941 season. The Tigers were playing Wetumpka, a team they had beaten 34-0 the previous season.
As a matter of fact, in THS' eight games, seven teams failed to score in 1943. Only Eufaula scratched on the scoreboard. The '44 team allowed only 25 points the entire season and put up a goose egg against the Indians on Sept. 29. But, the offense did not score.
The scoreless tie ended the win streak, but the the unbeaten streak continued until 1947. The team that ended it was Sidney Lanier on Nov. 14, 1947. The Poets won 21-7 at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
In W. C. Bryant's book, "Hot and His Boys," Bryant noted that 19,000 watched that game in the Capital City.
Jery Bryan of the Birmingham News also elabaorated on Tallassee's six-season feat with no losses. "(It) eclipsed all previous records for consecutive footballs streaks," he wrote. "The best records show a streak of 51 wins in 52 games , with one tie, amassed by Massillon (Ohio) High."
At the time, Tallassee's mark was the longest of its kind. It has been surpassed nationally. Concord De LaSalle High in California has the longest streak these days with 151 straight wins and no ties.
Edgewood Academy, right up Highway 14 in Elmore, won 71 consecutive games in recent years - an Alabama record.
As for Tallassee's streak, today it is still referred to as a 57-game win streak, when in reality it is a 57-game unbeaten streak.
On Monday, I stumbled across a plaque on the THS campus that I had never noticed before. The inscription reads, "Tallassee High School - To Commemorate 57 Consecutive Football Victories - Presented By Class of 1949.
Even the students of '49 got it wrong.
The longest win streak by the purple and gold football team since the 1940s came in 1999. The Mark Rose led team started the season 13-0 before losing to Jemison in the semifinals, 28-14.
It was a 13-game win streak. There were no ties that season. But if you want to get technical, it was also a 13-game unbeaten streak. "Win" does sound better.