ALACHUA, Fla. — Friday night was a long time coming for the Suwannee High football program.
Ninety-two years to be exact.
With a 30-23 win at Santa Fe’s Raider Field, the Bulldogs won the 500th game in program history, dating back to 1927. SHS began playing football in 1925 but results of the first two seasons are not known.
“It feels great. It means everything,” SHS junior Jaquez Moore said.
Kyler Hall, now in his fourth season as the Suwannee head coach, played for the Bulldogs in the late 1990s. His father Ron was a long-time Suwannee assistant.
Those roots in the Suwannee program help with a deeper appreciation for what the Bulldogs have all accomplished.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling because of all the great people that came before us and laid the foundation,” Hall added. “We talk a lot about the state championship days and rightfully so.
“Suwannee football is a big deal.
“These guys are starting to understand that.”
Suwannee became the first program in state history to win four straight state championships when it won the Class 3A titles from 1987 through 1990 under Mike Pittman’s tutelage.
The Bulldogs then got back to the state championship game in 1999 with Jay Walls as head coach when Kyler Hall was one of the standout players.
But in addition to those successes, Gene Cox led SHS to an 11-0 campaign in 1962 — still the program’s only undefeated season. The Bulldogs also went 10-1 in 1967 — the same year they won their 200th game, a 33-6 win at Starke — and Charles Duncan led the Bulldogs to great seasons in the 1930s (11-1 in 1936, 9-1 in 1937 and 1939), while Jamie Rodgers led SHS back to state prominence earlier this decade with a semifinal appearance in 2014.
The current Bulldogs are appreciative of that history — and the history they have now made — too.
“It’s everything,” senior DeMarius Thompson said. “Finishing my senior season here, it’s just a dream come. Watching my older cousins, Aaron McCallister and all of them while I was still playing rec league, it’s just a dream come true now that I have my chance to do it.
“Five hundred wins in school history, it doesn’t feel any better than this.”
“I never knew we were that close but to finally get there, that means the world to everybody,” he said. “It means everything.
“We’ve been working all summer, busting our tails. It just means everything to everybody.”