Bainbridge 1960 team looks at the 8-0 start of current Bearcats

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Coach Spencer “Onion” Davis’ 1960 Bainbridge High School Bearcats football team is the only Bearcat team to have an undefeated regular season.
Coach Jeff Littleton’s 2015 Bearcats, who are currently 8-0, are striving to equalize that feat.
Stars of the 1960 team were running backs Fred Barber and Ed Varner, known to Bearcat fans of the day as the “Touchdown Twins.”
Barber, who is a pharmacist in Blackshear, played for coach Vince Dooley’s Georgia Bulldogs, and Varner, who is an attorney in Warner Robins, played for coach Bobby Dodd’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Barner and Barber are both members of the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame.
Senior Jackie Nix, who signed a football scholarship with the Presbyterian College Blue Hose in Clinton, South Carolina, following his 1961 graduation, quarterbacked the 1960 team.
After playing four years and graduating from Presbyterian, Nix joined the U.S. Coast Guard. While serving near Vietnam, he met up with his brother Lurenzel, who was in the U.S. Navy.
After leaving the Coast Guard, Nix was called to the ministry and entered a Baptist seminary in Texas. He later pastured churches in Florida and Texas.
Gary Cliett, the Bearcats starting center in 1960, signed a football scholarship and went on to play with the University of Florida Gators.
The 1960 Bearcats lost 20-6 to the Waycross High School Bulldogs who had an outstanding running back named Marvin Huest who went on to team with Barber in the Georgia Bulldogs backfield
The starting lineup for the Bearcats in 1960 was Gary Cliett, who went on to play for University of Florida Gators, at center and linebacker, Billy Howell at left guard, Bill Morgan at right guard, Dee Hodges at left tackle, Claude Shirley at right tackle, Steve Sykes at left end, Comer Ward at right end, Forrest Caldwell at left halfback, Fred Barber, who went on to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, right halfback Ed Varner, who went on to play for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, quarterback Jackie Nix and outside linebacker Tim Inlow. Seve Sykes son David Sykes was a starting wide receiver on coach Ralph Jones’s Bearcats State Class AAA Bearcats footba ll team.
Claude Shirley and Billy Howell had some this week shared some fonnd memories of their coaches and teammates.
“Coach Davis, our head coach who coached the offensive and defensive lines, was the serious one at practice,” Shirley said. “Our assistant coach Sam Williams, our assistant coach who coached the backs, liked to joke and have fun with his players.
“During the season we defeated Panama City Florida 40-13 and that was coach Davis’ hometown and that really pleased him. With Ed Varner and Fred Barber running the ball, a good supporting cast of backs and a good line, we broke long runs very often. In our 2013 victory over the Thomasville High School Bulldogs we were not scared to kick to anyone but after we ran and kickoff back for touchdowns the Bulldogs started trying to kick out of bounds on punts.”
Howell said that he and right guard Billy Morgan, who weighed only 140 pounds each, had to pull out and lead the sweep runs by Ed Varner.Howell and Claude Shirley both said that Bearcats current sophomore running back Dameon Pierce reminds them a lot of Fred Barber.
“Pierce hits the middle of the line quickly and drives for extra yardage just kike Fred Barber did,” Shirley said.
“There were not any weight training programs back in 1960 like there are today, so you did not think about your weight,” Howell said. “You just did your job. Our 1960 team was a special group. We all came up together in youth football.”

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