Baker

Jumping for joy — cornerback Travis Baker celebrates during the state championship at Langford Stadium. 

For four straight seasons, Suwannee High had the best Class 3A football team in the state.

But which one of those Bulldog teams was the best in school history?

Or is one of those teams the best Suwannee High has ever produced? I’m sure the 1962 team would like a say in that argument. After all, they are the only undefeated team in school history, finishing 11-0.

Jamie Wachter mug

Jamie Wachter

It’s an argument that has never been settled.

But we’re going to change that — kind of.

Over the next month or so, the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press is going to re-introduce some of the best football teams the Suwannee River Valley has ever seen. What we feel are the 16 best teams.

Then we will find out which team is the best. At least in the eyes and minds of our readers.

Rather than have the Kerwin Bells and Matt Friers lace them back up and determine the best team on the field, our readers will vote on each matchup to determine the winner until there is just one team left standing.

Will it be one of Mike Pittman’s four straight state champions?

Or maybe it will be those undefeated Bulldogs that Gene Cox coached in 1962, or the 2014 SHS team that reached a state semifinal.

But then again, maybe it won’t be Suwannee at all.

Under Cleve Sikes’ tutelage, Branford won 38 straight regular season games and went 55 straight regular season games without a loss in the mid-1970s, including reaching the state championship game in 1974. A couple of those Buccaneer teams will have a say in determining the area’s all-time best.

Or it may be the Throwin’ Mayoan, Bell, and Lafayette’s lone state championship team, the 1981 Hornets. That team steamrolled through Class A on the way to the title. LHS reached another title game in 1997 and coach Joey Pearson led a number of great teams that ran into the eventual state champions in great playoff games, including 2005, when the Hornets fell 3-2 to Port St. Joe.

And don’t forget about Hamilton County. The Trojans twice reached state championship games, in 1975 and again in 2014. Perhaps one of them will make another title run.

The bracket will start to be unveiled next week with four of the first-round pairings with voting open each week to determine the winners.

So get ready to study up and help determine the area’s all-time champion.

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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