1970-1979

Things would get rockier the following year. The 1970 squad opened the season with a 15-7 win over Theodore and closed it with a 21-0 victory over Fairhope. In between those two bright spots, however, Foley would drop 8 straight games to stumble to a record of 2-8.

1971 would go down as one of the most beloved teams in school history. With only 40 players, 8 of whom started on both offense and defense, Foley gutted out a 7-2-1 record. After beating Satsuma and Theodore, the team tied B.C.Rain in a 21-21 thriller. The Lions stayed in the playoff hunt with a dramatic 15-14 win over U.M.S. Randy Nelson scored the winning touchdown and two point conversion with two minutes left to play. Only a narrow 12-6 loss to Milton knocked Foley out of the playoffs.

1972 would see a new offense in Foley, the wishbone. With this new innovation, the Lions steamrolled over Satsuma (24-0), Theodore (49-7), Shaw (40-13) and U.M.S. (62-14). With only a tie to Robertsdale and a 16-14 loss to Bay Minette to blemish the slate, the Lions met Fairhope in Foley in front of 7,000 fans to determine who would go to the playoffs. Foley jumped out to a 13-0 lead on the strength of John Mason’s 72 yard run on an option keep and a 99 yard touchdown drive. Behind the hard running of Donnie Faust, the Pirates would take the lead at halftime 14-13. They extended the lead to 21-13 before the Lions mounted a fourth quarter drive to cut the lead to 21-19. A missed two point conversion would prevent the Lions from avoiding defeat in this classic and the squad ended the season at 7-2-1.

1973 would result in another 2-8 record. The only wins came against McGill and Robertsdale. The team played one of its best games against number one ranked Bay Minette, giving the Tigers all that they could want before falling 14-0.

1974 started much the same way with the Lions stumbling out of the gate with one win and two losses. The fourth game resulted in a 15-6 win over McGill and the next game proved to be the real turning point, a 32-6 win over highly regarded Catholic. The highlight of the season had to be the 13-7 win over Bay Minette. Foley had not beaten the Tigers since 1968 and most sportswriters predicted that this trend would continue. However, a one yard touchdown run by Anthony Kaiser and a 100 yard touchdown by Jeff Wilson on an interception return were all the Lions’ stout defense would need to pull off the upset. The team finished the season at 7-3 and would start a string of 10 straight years in which the Foley Lions would win at least seven games.

The 1975 team would open with a tough 14-6 loss at Fairhope but would taste defeat only once more. The outcome of the Williamson game was very much in doubt as Foley trailed 6-0 in the waning moments. With 55 seconds remaining in the game, Steve Flowers playing with a broken bone in his hand completed a 20 yard touchdown pass to sophomore Clovese Snowden in the southeast corner of the end zone. With the extra point, Foley had pulled out a heartstopping 7-6 victory. Foley mauled its last two opponents, B.C.Rain (48-7) and Catholic (35-0) to post an 8-2 record, the most wins since 1967.

Foley would showcase a powerful offense and defense in jumping out to a 5-0 record in 1976, the best start to a season since 1962. However, Foley’s playoff hopes would be derailed by a much disputed 10-7 loss to Satsuma and a crushing defeat to undefeated Bay Minette. The team rebounded with a convincing 31-6 win over Chipley, the 45th of Coach Smith’s career, placing him in second place for career coaching victories. A win over Fairhope led to an invitation to play in the Oil Bowl game in Citronelle against East Central. The Mississippians were no match for the Lions as Foley scored on 8 of its first 9 possessions, including an incredible 76 yard run by Bruce Chisenhall, to win going away 46-8. With the win, the team concluded the season at 8-2, matching the record of the previous year.

1977 started out looking rather shaky. The Lions trailed 6-0 at Robertsdale for most of the game. Foley finally put together a drive and scored on a 20 yard pass from Eric Kennedy to Larry Shoots with just over five minutes to play. Doug Suttle tacked on the extra point for the tough 7-6 victory. The third game was another stiff test this time against Pine Forest who would play for the Florida state championship each of the next two seasons. Foley trailed briefly but sparked by a 95 yard kickoff return by Byron Dean and a 71 yard punt return by Clovese Snowden, the Lions went on to blow out the Eagles 42-13. The next huge challenge loomed in week 7 in the form of Atmore. Both teams entered the game unbeaten. Foley again trailed early but took a 15-13 halftime lead on the strength of Byron Dean’s 40 yard touchdown run and Snowden’s 55 yard punt return. The Lions cruised in the second half to a convincing 29-13 victory. Wins over Satsuma (21-0), Bay Minette (12-0), and Fairhope (7-2) finished off a perfect 10-0 season, the first since 1962. Coach Bud Pigott’s defense recorded five shutouts and gave up only 40 points in the regular season, the lowest total since 1964.

This set the stage for Foley’s first ever playoff game. The opponent would be 9-1 Sidney Lanier. Motor homes were seen parked at the stadium the morning of the game and when the gates were finally opened the stadium was filled to capacity and beyond two hours before kickoff. The crowd was later estimated at over 7,000 fans. Foley struck first on a 10 play, 65 yard drive capped by Eric Kennedy’s nine yard run on an option keeper. Lanier answered with a bizarre score. The Poet quarterback was hit from behind on an option play. The ball bounced through a Lion defender’s legs and into the waiting arms of a Poet running back, who raced down the sidelines for the touchdown. Byron Dean answered with a 47 yard touchdown that was unfortunately called back due to a penalty. (The film later revealed that the official had missed the call.) Lanier answered the bell in the second half with an impressive drive of 68 yards on nine plays to stake a 14-7 lead. The Lions would answer with a drive of their own in the fourth quarter. Byron Dean scored on a six yard run. Coach Smith decided to go for the lead. He called Russell Dean’s number, Byron’s brother, on the two point play. Russell took a pitchout going to the left down toward the southwest pylon. He lowered his shoulder pad and ran over the Poet defender giving Foley a 15-14 lead with 10 minutes to go as Lion fans went into delirium. However, Lanier mustered one more drive, scoring on Eric Collins one yard fourth down run to hand the Lions a heartbreaking 22-15 loss. Foley finished the season with a 10-1 record and a number 3 state ranking.

Graduation hit the Lions hard but the 1978 squad proved to be tough, scrappy ball club. After opening victories over Robertsdale and Mary Montgomery, Foley defeated a great Vigor team in an exciting 17-14 win. Lamar Windham led the Wolves down the field toward the goalline, but Foley’s defense rose to the occasion forcing a field goal attempt from the 10 yard line which was no good. Foley kept reeling off victories until the October 20th showdown with Bay Minette. Though Foley had not lost a regular season game in two years, most experts picked the Tigers to end the Lions streak. One bold writer made the statement that it was time for Foley to “turn off the lights because the party is over.” The stage was set for one of the greatest games ever played in school history. Foley opened the scoring in the first half when Mike Benton hit Byron Dean in the left flats on a swing pass. Byron caught the ball, reversed field, broke several tackles, and raced 38 yards to give Foley the 6-0 lead. Bay Minette would answer with a pair of Kelly Powell quarterback sneaks to take a 14-6 lead late in the fourth quarter. Foley would get the ball with one more shot from its on 14 yard line. On first down, Mike Benton hit Dennis Lane down the north sideline on a beautiful 46 yard pass play. After an incompletion, Byron Dean took a pitchout going to his left, broke five tackles, and hurdled the last defender right in front of the Foley bench on his way to an incredible 38 yard run. Byron scored the two point conversion to tie the score at 14-14, setting up the first overtime game in school history. Foley scored first to take a 20-14 lead. Bay Minette chose to give the ball to 227 pound running back Jerry Oliver four times from the 10 yard line. On fourth down from the two, Oliver was stopped inches short of the goalline, setting up an unbelievable scene of jubilation on the field. The Lions had won 21 consecutive regular season games and were only two victories away from recording back to back undefeated seasons as had been accomplished in 1961 and 1962. However, the Lions would be stunned by Ed Lathan’s B.C.Rain Red raiders the following Thursday night. Trailing 20-18, Foley drove to the 10 yard line in the waning moments only to lose a fumble and the game. The following week, Fairhope handed Foley a 14-6 loss, knocking them out of the playoffs. Foley finished the season with an 8-2 mark.

The 1979 Lions outscored their opponents 292-31. The defense was ferocious, recording six shutouts and even fewer points allowed than the 1977 squad. Foley took a 7-0 record into Bay Minette where some estimates claim that 10,000 fans witnessed another thriller in this long rivalry. The Tigers jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Foley repeatedly drove the football but were kept out of the end zone until the fourth quarter when Foley cut the lead to 10-6. The Lions got the ball back one more time and just as the year before, Dennis Lane caught a long pass down the visitors sideline, this time from Carey Christensen as the Foley crowd went absolutely berserk. The Lions were not able to finish the drive this time and suffered its only loss. The team bounced back with a 41-0 win over B.C.Rain and a 34-0 victory over Fairhope. Stanley Sanchez caught three touchdown passes against the Pirates and celebrated what they thought would be a wildcard entry into the playoffs. However, Foley was beaten out by one point in the tie breakers by Northview. It came down to opponents’ victories and three games of Lion opponents had been canceled because of Hurricane Frederic which had hit on September 13th. Although denied a spot in the playoffs, this addition of the Foley Lions will go down as one of the school’s best teams.