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Greatest on the Gridiron: 1970 Temple, 1990 Vicksburg vie for title of greatest team ever

The tournament to crown Warren County’s best high school football team of all-time has been whittled from 32 teams down to two.

The 1970 Temple Buccaneers and 1990 Vicksburg Gators have each survived four weeks of voting to reach the championship round of The Vicksburg Post’s Greatest on the Gridiron tournament.

Temple crushed the 1981 St. Aloysius Flashes in one semifinal, 283-76. It was both the highest vote total and the largest margin of victory among the first 30 games of the tournament.

In the other semifinal, the 1990 Vicksburg Gators survived another close game against 2001 Vicksburg, 256-242. The ’90 Gators have won their four games thus far by an average margin of 21 votes — fairly comfortable, but dwarfed by Temple’s average margin of 93 votes per game.
The Gators and Buccaneers will now meet in the championship game, and voting is open through noon on Thursday, Aug. 6, at vicksburgpost.com.

(1) 1970 Temple vs. (2) 1990 Vicksburg

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Temple’s run through the Greatest on the Gridiron tournament has mirrored its run through the 1970 season. Led by quarterback William Wooley (28 touchdown passes) and the running back tandem of Carl Williams and Henry Martin (nearly 30 combined touchdowns), Temple went a perfect 9-0 and beat its opponents by an average margin of 44 points per game.

Temple’s defense allowed a total of 24 points and posted six shutouts in nine games. It finished the season with a 6-0 victory over St. Augustine in the Red Carpet Bowl. It was the first time two all-black schools played in the game, as well as the last game in Temple’s storied history.

Temple closed at the end of the 1970-71 school year as Vicksburg’s schools were desegregated. The Buccaneers’ victory over St. Augustine was the last in a 39-game unbeaten streak that spanned four seasons.

The 1990 Vicksburg Gators, meanwhile, finished 10-3, won the Region 2-5A championship, and were ranked as high as No. 3 in the state at one point in the season. They earned the program’s first-ever win over Warren Central and reached the MHSAA Class 5A semifinals.

The Gators were a strong, balanced and deep team. Two-way star Ronnie Taylor (450 rushing yards, 149 tackles) was the 1990 Vicksburg Post Defensive Player of the Year, but had a lot of talened teammates.

Five players had more than 240 rushing yards and seven scored more than one touchdown. Quarterback Kevin Ferguson threw for 771 yards and nine touchdowns, and also ran for four TDs.

The defense allowed 12 points during a four-game stretch late in the season, which included playoff victories over Southaven and Starkville. The run ended with a 21-20 loss to Tupelo in the North State championship game, after the Gators had a field goal and a PAT blocked in the fourth quarter.

Separated by 20 years, the 1970 Temple and 1990 Vicksburg squads both have memorable places in Warren County’s football history. Whether it’s the Buccaneers or Gators, however, only one can be the GOAT. Your vote will decide which it is.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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