James Jones column: Bonner relives Southside, Selma rivalry

Published 10:00 am Monday, August 28, 2023

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Forty years ago, Southside recorded its first-ever victory over Selma high in football, prevailing 16-14. The memories remain fresh in the mind of Jeffrey Bonner, who was photographed in The Selma-Times Journal celebrating the win.

Bonner was one of the Panthers juniors who starred in that game and will be one of several Southside alumni in the stands on Friday at Memorial Stadium when Southside and Selma collide.

The way Bonner sees it, Southside was the underdog, and everything centered around Selma.

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“No one gave us a chance,” Bonner said. “Selma didn’t win a game that year, but Selma thought they’d beat us.””

While the Saints have dominated the rivalry over time, Bonner said Southside enjoyed a special night in 1983.

“It felt great to beat them,” Bonner said.

Bonner sent me down on a memory trip to 1983. For many of us, 1983 seemed like centuries ago. Careers, parenthood and adulthood were the farthest things in most of our minds.

That year, I was an eighth grader at Holt High School. I was going through the worst academic year of my life. At that time, getting myself together was my top priority.

A highlight for Selma in 1983 was when the late comedian Bob Hope put on a show at the Performing Arts Center on October 24.

The biggest news in the state that year was legendary University of Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant passing away in January. It took 33 years and head coach Nick Saban to restore Alabama’s championship tradition built by Bryant.

Video games and arcades were popular in those days. Music was played on cassette decks and hi-fi cassette decks. The popular music of 1983 was the album “Thriller,” by the late Michael Jackson, an album still regarded as the greatest collection of music ever by music historians. Lionel Richie from Tuskegee was not far behind with his classic hits, “All Night Long” and “Hello.”

That was life for a teenager in 1983. Bonner recalled Southside’s 1983 football season and said the only bad thing that happened for the Panthers was not reaching the state playoffs.

A loss to Demopolis earlier in the season kept the team from reaching the postseason.

In those days, only one team in an Area made the playoffs. Today, four teams from each Region qualify for the postseason. Winning titles in those days were difficult.

Nevertheless, Bonner is confident that this season the Panthers will off a victory like they did 40 years ago on a Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

We shall see, Mr. Bonner.

We’re looking forward to the Queen City showdown.