Several months ago, readers were asked to submit their top moments in the county’s football history. The Times plans to publish a history of each of the three programs this fall. We are including a top 10 moments that is voted on by fans.
This week, The Times presents 14 moments moments culled from a combination of fan submissions and events that stand out in IAHS’s history. Fans will have the chance to vote online for one week, starting Friday, July 31 at noon through Friday, Aug. 7 at noon. The voting will be similar to the yearly Best of Itawamba process. In the coming weeks, we’ll have moments for Mantachie High School and Itawamba Community College.
Visit bit.ly/iahsfootballmoments to cast your ballot for the best from the following big moments in the IAHS football program’s storied history:
1921 – The program begins
The same year that IAHS opened its doors for the first time, the school formed a football team. While the results were mixed, it set the foundation for the next 98 seasons and counting.
One of the best teams in the program’s early days, the team won the Northeast and Northwest Mississippi championships before losing to Kosciusko in the North Mississippi Championship game.
1939 – Night games played for first time
Just a few years after the Tennessee Valley Authority brought power to Itawamba county, IAHS installed floodlights and were able to play night games. Their use was halted during World War II due to restrictions on the use of lighting at night.
1946 – Little Eight Co-Champs
With the county moving into the post-WWII era, IAHS played their way to a Little Eight Conference Co-Championship.
1961 – First Tombigbee Conference Championship
On a Monday night in front of more than 2,000 fans, the Indians beat Ripley to take the Tombigbee Conference Crown for the first time. It would become a familiar occurrence for the Indians over the next decade and a half.
1967 – First Integrated Team in Mississippi
IAHS made history on September 8 when they took the field against Baldwyn. They became the first team in the state of Mississippi to play a game as a fully integrated team a couple of years before many schools in the state integrated. The Indians won that game.
1971-75 – Five straight Tombigbee Conference Championships
IAHS dominated the Tombigbee Conference from the time of their first championship in 1961 until leaving the conference at the end of the 1975 season. No other team was able to play IAHS out of the top spot in the conference’s football standings in their final five seasons.
1971-74 – 27 game win streak
IAHS was an imposing team from the 1960s through the mid-70s, and the Indians put together a win streak that included four different seasons. The 1971 team won a November game against Oxford to start the school’s longest win streak. Jones’ last team went undefeated, a perfect 10-0. The next year under new head coach Jackie Spradling, the Indians also had a perfect record at 9-0 and in 1974, head coach Don Leathers won their first seven games before losing to Ripley in November of 1974.
1987 – First playoff appearance
With the creation of overtime rules for high school games in the state, conferences gave way to a division format with playoffs that ended with a state championship game. The Indians struggled for several years, but in 1987, they finally reached the postseason. Under head coach Craig Cherry, the Indians went 6-4 in the regular season to finish second in division 1-4A to advance to the playoffs for the first time in school history.
1999 – IAHS wins first division crown
The Indians went 11-1 in the regular season under head coach Lynn Moore to win division 1-4A and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
2009 – first trip to North Half Championship
IAHS made its firs trip to the North Half Championship in 2009 under head coach Jamie Mitchell.
2009 – Regular season win over Shannon
Playing on a Saturday and in front of several thousand fans against their most played rival, Shannon High School, the Indians scored on the last drive of the game to win division 1-4A for the first time in their new stadium.
2015- Indians are Sportscenter’s top play
Quarterback Vijay Miller threw a long pass down the field to a heavily defended receiver Caleb Whittle. Whittle caught the ball and knowing with the first half coming to end that if they were going to score, it would have to be on that play. Whittle threw a lateral into the arms of his wide open teammate, tight-end Russell Bunch, who ran it into the end zone. The play didn’t just make the top-10. It was Sportscenter’s top play of the day. IAHS went on to beat Aberdeen in the game.
2018 – Ike goes for 2,000 yards in back to back seasons
In 2018, junior running back Ike Chandler made IAHS history when he became the first player to rush for over 2,000 yards. In 2019, during his senior campaign, he bested his previous season by over 500 yards and rushed for more than 2,500 yards to be named 4A’s Mr. Football in the state of Mississippi.