Estes: That 1946 Rebel team could play

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I like to talk about a little old stuff, OK? Today for a little bit I want to go back to 1946 and the Natchez football Rebels that went 8-1-1 on the year. I remember that NHS was plenty good that year, even though the Rebels lost once and tied one.

The Rebel backfield was Henry Simonton, Ray Boyd, Buzz Ratcliff and Bernard Callender. Some of the old-timers will recall that this foursome could cut and go, including Callender, who could pass and quarterback a team.

Naturally I remember some things about that 1946 football team because I was already thinking about trying part-time sportswriting for The Natchez Democrat. And sports editor Norman Matthews was sure-enough encouraging me.

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The starting backs back then were Callender, Boyd, Ratcliff and Simonton, as I’ve already told you. And here are some of the other lettermen from that season &045; Charles Kelly, as good a tackle as Natchez ever had; and the backs I’ve listed like Fred Schleet, David Eidt, Gene Ballew, George Marshall, Platte Phillips, Vasel Slover, Raphael Carrazza, Vasel Slover and manager George Montgomery were there then.

Foster, Callender, Simonton and Porter played college football and played well. My thanks go to Jack Foster for his help in remembering names of some of the players from that time.

I guess you’ve noticed by now I love going back now and then. I’m 80 years old now, and when I hang it up, I have to say my sportswriting has been a major entertainment in my life.

Got to thinking Big Eight Conference basketball the other day, so I just reached on a shelf of old columns and came up with a Sunday, Feb. 26, 1950 edition of The Natchez Democrat.

Seems like I’ve mentioned this score already, but coach A.I. Rexinger’s Natchez High quintet shaded Hattiesburg 41-37 in the title game that Feb. 25, 1950. I had the pleasure of calling in the game story to old Matt (Norman Matthews).

Talk about fun. I always had a jolly ol’ time talkin’ about winning Natchez High and Cathedral basketball games on the phone.

The night Natchez shaded Hattiesburg for the 1950 title, I had a lead something like this &045; &8220;A brilliant band of Natchez High Rebels overcame every obstacle in the books to defeat the Hattiesburg High Tigers 41-37 here last night and sweep a third consecutive Big Eight Conference title for their school.&8221;

I told Democrat readers back home (the tourney was in Hattiesburg) how gallant the underdog Rebels were. And they did hustle, believe me. Several Hattiesburg fans even complimented me after Natchez played so well in coming back to take the title.

You just can’t beat good high school sports, you know it? The 1950 tournament was one of the best I ever covered, start to finish. And I covered good ‘uns.

And this special Christmas note: Natchez, Vidalia and Ferriday folks are indeed special, and I’m not just talkin.’ I mean it.

And so allow me to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas &045; if you’re with your family during the holiday or not. I like you &045; I just do.

Glenvall Estes is a longtime columnist for The Natchez Democrat.