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BI athlete of past lends memoris
Glory Days
Then high school athlete Don Martin, who is now Liberty County sheriff, strikes a classic football pose. - photo by Photo provided.
As the popularity of the county’s football program grows stronger with every passing year, it’s important to take a peek in the past to gain a better appreciation of how the program began.
Sheriff J. Don Martin, who graduated from Bradwell Institute in 1957, shared his memories to shine a light on the hard-hitting days of Liberty’s football past.
In the 1950s, the Bradwell Tigers were a much different team, Martin said.
They wore old and tattered uniforms and had just a few options in their playbook. But Martin said it was the tenacity and grit of the team that helped them excel in the decades that followed.
“McIntosh County did away with football, and we got the leftovers of their uniforms,” Martin said. “There wasn’t much padding. They didn’t fit well and our practice pants doubled as our game pants.”
With every Friday kickoff at Bradwell’s old unnamed football field, there were no bleachers, and the fans stood behind a cable that separated them from the playing area, he said.
Despite the inadequacies, Martin’s eyes lit up as he peered back to his team’s one season of glory as he helped push the ball down the field on offense.
“In our last year, in 1956, we came out smoking,’ he said. “We were 6 and 1. We lost the next two games, but we almost came away with the regional championship that year after finishing 6 and 3. We only had a few plays in the book, but we could move the ball.”
Following Martin’s graduation, a coaching legend named Hokey Jackson came in 1958 from Jesup and propelled the Tigers to many winning seasons throughout the 1960s, Martin said.
When comparing Bradwell’s football past to its present, Martin said the athletes today have better weight training, coaching programs and better facilities to display their talents.
“Bradwell’s pride and camaraderie fuels game support, and the fan support has made Bradwell football what it is today. I think the kids take advantage of the programs, and I wish the best for both Bradwell and Liberty County High School for this football season,” Martin said.
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