West Rome ‘remembered’ — as Buford ties historic record of four state football championships in a row

The better four-year dynasty

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Buford’s record-tying fourth consecutive state football championship was a popular topic at one of oldest pharmacies in downtown Rome last week.

Some of the longtime customers at Winslette Pharmacy made it known they were rooting against Buford in the Class AA championship.

The pharmacy is owned by the brother of Charles Winslette, who was the head coach of West Rome High in 1985 — when the only other school in state history accomplished the four-year championship streak.

“I talked to some of them, and they were putting all kinds of jinxes on Buford,” Charles Winslette said with a laugh. “Some of them were really hoping that Buford wouldn’t win it, wouldn’t tie the record.

“I guess records are made to be tied and broken. And, from what I hear, with what Buford has as far as coming back for next year, I think they have an excellent chance of winning No. 5.”

In the north Georgia town, a Sam’s Warehouse has been erected on the grounds of where one of the most treasured football programs in state history once played routinely to overflowing crowds. West Rome and East Rome consolidated after the 1991 season.

“I grew up in Georgia and played high school football [at Marietta] in the 80s,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “I knew about West Rome’s success, as did everybody else.

“But it was never a focus point for us at Buford this year. You never get to the top of the mountain by staring at the mountain. You do it by looking at your next step and keeping your mind in the present moment.”

West Rome had three different head coaches during the four-year stretch of championships. Winslette was preceded by Rodney Walker, who led the Chieftans to the 1984 championship before being hired away by Cartersville after one season. The man that is mostly credited with creating the dynasty, along with being the coach of the first two title teams, is Mike Hodges.

Hodges was hired away by Thomasville High, is retired from coaching and still lives in the Thomasville area. He says he wasn’t disappointed to see Buford tie the record.

“That’s really not me to think that way,” Hodges said. “What I was able to be part of at West Rome was as good as it gets. I don’t get caught up with what I was part of compared to what Buford is doing.

“I have tremendous respect for Buford. A lot of things have to fall into place to win one state championship. To win four in a row, that’s an amazing feat.”

West Rome no longer exists, but the memories of its football feats live on. Hodges and the other coaches have gathered with the former players for a couple of championship reunions.

“I guarantee you that a lot of people in Rome were watching that Buford game last weekend,” Hodges said with a chuckle. “West Rome may not be standing, but there are still a lot of former fans, players and boosters in the area. They are still passionate about those days. It didn’t slip their minds, I can assure you.”

Even Walker, more than two decades later, still marvels over West Rome’s four years of dominance, which included three undefeated seasons and a 59-1 overall record.

“I think it’s a sacred record, a lot of people with three state championships in row would’ve like to have tied that record — great programs such as Parkview and Valdosta come to mind,” Walker said.

“It’s difficult to win one state championship. Everything has to fall right and sometimes the best teams don’t win it. You’ve got to have a lot of luck, first of all. Then you’ve got to have great players, which is something in common with both West Rome and now Buford.”

Ironically, Hodges has established a friendship with a couple of Buford coaches, including Simpson. Buford has been bringing its offensive linemen to Hodges’ summer camp at Middle Georgia College for years.

After Buford tied the record last Friday, Hodges was one of the first to reach Simpson with a congratulatory phone call the next day. During the conversation, nothing was said by either coach about the historic achievement.

“I congratulated Buford for winning state — I do that every year, not because it was their fourth in a row,” Hodges said. “I’m sure the Buford people are aware of the record, but it’s not that big of deal to me where I would point it out during a conversation.”

Simpson said he saw no need to bring it up in the conversation either. “If you know me and how we go about things, we don’t really put a lot of focus on records. But like I’ve said before, I’ve been at Buford during a special time.

“And when the Buford program and community gets to be part of history with a legendary program like West Rome, it is certainly something special.”

13 comments Add your comment

East Rome

December 15th, 2010
8:21 am

I remember when we comsolidated in 1991. I led a protest in downtown and we flipped a few cars. Set a few buidlings on fire. Looted a small bit.

Turns out it wasn’t really a protest. I was alone. And I got arrested. But it was worth it.

jak

December 15th, 2010
2:27 pm

Rickey

December 15th, 2010
6:44 pm

I thought both West Rome and East Rome played their games at Barron Stadium. It most certainly has not been turned into a ‘Sams’. It is still hosting football games on Friday Nights in the fall will as long as football is played in Rome. Heck with Shorter playing now even the Saturdays are full of football fans at Barron.

BW

December 16th, 2010
11:34 am

Coach Simpson and his coaches need to be commended for their approach to the SC game. Their attitude and emphasis during the playoffs was not about the record, but about surviving week to week with the goal of winning a SC…not the 4th in a row!

Coach Tim Glanton

December 16th, 2010
9:58 pm

Congratulations go out to Buford High School and It’s community. It is certainly an awesome acomplishment. I played on the first two state championships at West Rome and I remember how special it was being part of history.

ChiliPimp

December 16th, 2010
10:42 pm

I was on the Washington-Wilkes team that lost to West Rome in the 1985 State Championship Game at Barron Stadium 28-10. 2 Degrees at kickoff, I can still hear the PA guy asking…”ARE YOU READY,….HERE WE COME!!!!!”

Purple People Eaters

December 17th, 2010
4:11 am

Rickey:
Think he is talking about where West Rome High School was located back in the day there is a Sams there now…Don’t think he was talking about Barron Stadium…..

dilmus reed

December 17th, 2010
8:20 am

Being a graduate of west rome class of 1980 i was really proud of the boys that played on those teams. some names i remember is william kent tim glantomn david mccluskey keith green ralph johnson spencer hammond warren butts emory chatman eric floyd bobby grier and a lot more so if i left your name out dont be upset lol. even though buford tied the record he stood for a long time so all of you should be proud.

emory chatman

December 17th, 2010
2:48 pm

I played on the first state championship team in the rain and mud against Mary person! 7-6! It was really a great feeling! Buford has accomplished a super task and I take my hat off to them!

yearofthedawg

December 18th, 2010
1:38 am

I went to the Buford-Columbia girls basketball game tonight. The Buford girls have won two state titles in a row and have two underclassmen on this year’s roster who are already committed to Tennessee…they could bring another four-peat to the school. They beat the defending AAA champion Eagles 65-47. Awesome game.

Back in the day, my Cedar Grove high team beat the East Rome team with Larry Kinnebrew, Greg Gordon, Sylvester Elkins… wow what talent! Glad West wasn’t a part of them then!

Tim Pope

December 1st, 2011
3:30 pm

I played at West Rome,and to yearofthedawg……sorry man your dreaming,that East Rome team you say your Ceder Grove team beat went 15-0 and that includes beating us 35-0,the next year in 1978 East Rome went 15-0 again….I dont know what game you saw but I played against both those E.R.teams and they didnt loose to Ceder Grove or anybody else for almost 3yrs.

loohitTy

February 17th, 2012
6:04 am

buy vintage chanel bags to take huge discount for more detail

LaShun Hammond

August 30th, 2012
8:09 am

I attended West Rome High School all 4 years of our Glorious victories. I attended all 60 games as well It was indeed a wonderful experience for my high school years. A feeling you cant ever take away. So congratulations BUFORD…… join us Chieftains with victory as well. You will never ever forget it!!!!