Kirby, we are proud of you

Published 9:06 am Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Congratulations to the University of Alabama on their 21-0 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national championship clinching victory over LSU on Monday, Jan. 9, in New Orleans, La.

Here in Bainbridge and Decatur County, we are especially proud of Bainbridge High School Bearcats 1993 Region 1-AAAA sportswriters’ defensive player of the year Kirby Smart, who coordinated the Crimson Tide’s defense that allowed the Tigers’ offense to cross the 50-yard line just once all night.

I had the pleasure of covering Kirby, the son Sharon Smart and former Bearcats and Rabun County High School Wildcats head coach Sonny Smart, during his outstanding high-school-playing career.

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Kirby’s senior football season of 1993, with Sonny as head coach, Kirby as a starting defensive back and Jonathan Butler as a starting running back, ranks as one of the best in my 41 years of Bainbridge High School Bearcats football coverage.

In addition to Kirby being named Region 1-AAAA defensive player of the year in 1993, Sonny was named Region 1-AAAA coach of the year, and Jonathan was named Region 1-AAAA offensive player of the year. It was a special season and one that I will never forget.

The Bearcats posted an outstanding 8-2 regular season record , and advanced all the way to the State Class AAAA semifinals in 1993.

Three of their regular season victories were over annually strong teams. They defeated Colquitt County 21-10, Valdosta 10-7 and Lowndes County 21-6.

Kirby, former winner of the Frank Broyles Award, named for the former Arkansas Razorbacks head coach and given each year to the top assistant college football coach in the country, went on to earn All-SEC and All-SEC Academic honors as a Georgia Bulldog.

Last Thursday night, at the annual Bainbridge High School football banquet, BHS athletic director Stan Killough, a former Crimson Tide baseball player and Bearcats head baseball coach, and I had a chance to reminisce a little about Kirby and his outstanding Bainbridge High School athletic career.

We recalled what an outstanding infielder and All-Region 1-AAAA performer he was for Stan’s Bearcats baseball team. Kirby was always a great all-around athlete and competitor. He played guard for coach Larry Slaughter’s Bearcats basketball team.

Congratulations, Kirby. Everyone back here in your home town is so proud of you and your great accomplishments. I feel privileged to have had the honor of covering your outstanding high school athletic career.

Joe Crine is the sports editor for The Post-Searchlight. Email him at