By Lee Davis
On Sept. 15, 1978, the Vestavia Hills football team went to Trussville and defeated Hewitt 14-0. To be truthful, the game didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. The Rebels were 0-2 entering the contest, and Hewitt wasn’t much of a program in those days.
The outcome was significant for one reason–it was the first-ever victory for rookie Vestavia coach Buddy Anderson.
Thirty-six years and 308 wins later, Anderson came back to the same place to become Alabama’s all-time winningest high school coach.
The Rebels defeated the Huskies 14-3, giving Anderson his 310th careervictory to pass the legendary Waldon Tucker of Fayette County and forever sealing his own place in state football history.
Vestavia won the game in true Anderson style, coupling a strong defensive effort with a solid running attack. Hewitt ran 17 plays in Rebel territory in the first half and came away with no points.
Even more importantly, Vestavia bounced back from a 14-7 overtime upset loss at the hands of Oak Mountain the previous week.
“We went back to playing Vestavia football,” quarterback Landon Crowder said. “Last week, we weren’t really ourselves. We were tense and thinking more about the record than the game itself. This week, we were more loose and decided to have fun playing football.”
Crowder said being a part of the record-breaking game was special for him and his teammates.
“We were honored to be the team that got the 310th win for Coach Anderson because it was such a special accomplishment,” he said. “We also wanted to get the win for all the Vestavia players in the past who contributed to it.”
Early in the game, it looked like Anderson might have to wait yet another week to get the historic triumph. In the first quarter, Hewitt drove 78 yards to the Rebel one-yard line. But Husky quarterback Zach Thomas was stopped on fourth-and-goal.
“That goal line stand was wonderful,” said Anderson, who was characteristically more interested in discussing his players than his own achievements. “Our defense played well all night.”
After a scoreless first half, Vestavia finally took control in the third quarter. Crowder’s 40-yard pass completion to Samuel Harvey moved the Rebels to the Hewitt 14. Moments later, Crowder scored on a three-yard run with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter. Jack Hatchett’s kick gave the Rebels a 7-0 lead.
The Huskies responded by driving to Vestavia’s 10-yard line, where T.J. McGettigan kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3 with 11:38 left in the game.
Anderson’s date with destiny was confirmed late in the game when Crowder scored his second touchdown on a two-yard dash with 4:23 remaining. The Rebel defense stymied Hewitt’s offense the rest of the way.
“This was a true team win, which is what Coach Anderson talks about all the time,” Crowder said. “I’m so blessed to have great receivers and a great offensive line. And our defense was awesome.”
Looking beyond Anderson’s record, Crowder believes the win was a good building block for Vestavia.
“I wouldn’t say it (the record) was a distraction, but there had been so much said and written about it,” he said. “Last week, it really hurt to lose. I think we’re glad to get it all behind us and concentrate more on getting better and winning.”
In the meantime, remember the date: Sept. 12, 2014, when Buddy Anderson became Alabama’s all-time winningest high school coach at the same place where it all began.