Clinton Blount played football from 1961 to 1964 for Lyons Industrial High School during a time when he felt fortunate to have 20 teammates and when he wore a helmet that either had no face mask or just one bar. They were called the Lions and according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website they shutout three opponents in 1962. They blanked Sylvania Central 6-0, Liberty County 13-0 and Eureka 6-0.
“We had an awesome defense,” Blount said. “We had an awesome team, but we were better on defense than we were on offense.”
Blount was a defensive back and both a running back and quarterback on offense. “I was pretty much like the backup quarterback. If there injuries or rest time then I played quarterback. 90 percent of the time I played running back.
Clinton says he played at 5-10 and 165 pounds. “I was pretty shifty. It was kind of hard for them to get their hands on me. I didn’t have the blazing speed that some backs had, but I got through cracks that many times others had difficulty getting through. I was pretty quick on my feet. I was shifty and it was hard for one man to tackle me.”
One of Blount’s best games was plated on a bad field. “The most memorable game I had was in Wrens. I played with some injuries on their field and their field was full of rocks the size of baseballs. I carried the ball more than anyone did in that game. I spent the next week or so in the doctors office draining fluids off my bruises.”
Back when Clinton played they didn’t keep statistics. The only number that really mattered was on the scoreboard. “Keeping yardage was not the thing that we remembered most because we just wanted to win and make sure the we fulfilled all of our responsibilities that we had as a player. The coaches expected us to fulfill our responsibilities. Being just a country boy I didn’t come home saying I ran for 80-yards or 100-yards. Instead I would say that we won. I was brought up as more of a team player as opposed to calculating the number of yards and even the number of touchdowns I scored. We had to win. If somebody else ran the ball that was fine.”
For two seasons Clinton played with his younger brother Mel (2017 Toombs County Athletic Hall of Fame inductee). Of course Mel went on to become one of if not the best defensive back who has ever played in the NFL. He won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played in five Pro Bowls and was voted the NFL’s best defensive player in 1975. You would think back then people would be talking about the Blount brothers, but Clinton says it was a different time. There was no internet. “Because of the lack of communication. It was basically by word of mouth. People in our community and our rivals like Vidalia and Evans County and because we attended church, they knew about the Blount boys, but it wasn’t a widespread thing. Mel was not notorious at that time. He was just a little knucklehead who was in the 10th or 11th grade. He could run fast. Now everybody would know you because of the internet.”
Clinton says he was the big brother and Mel was the little brother. “There was a pecking order. He was under me. We were just raised up that way. I was a little rougher than he was then. That didn’t last too long, Clinton said with a laugh. “I was an upperclassmen and you were expected to out-perform them and most times we did.”
Both Blounts played for head coach Jimmy Thacker- a former lineman. “He was like up in your face. He was a banging your head against the wall kind of guy. He was just tough. There was nothing easy or soft about him at all. He was the kind of guy when you saw him, you believed he could do anything.”
After his high school career came to an end, Clinton went to Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. “I never played first string. The first year I was not on the travel team. The second year I was. Just as I thought I was going to make the travel team and make the field is when I got injured. I never did get a chance to show my skill or potential there.” Ironically, Clinton’s injury occurred in practice and the player involved in the unfortunate incident was Sam Davis. Davis, from Ocilla, went on to play for 13-years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a teammate of Mel’s.
On Sunday, December 9th beginning at 2 p.m. Clinton will be inducted into the Toombs County Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I appreciate it. It has been so long that it is one of the farthest things from my mind. The things you have done and the fun that you had and the kids you played with and the places you played. In my day traveling and going out of town was unthought of. It just didn’t happen, but if you were on a football team you might travel to another city and it was one of the means of getting exposure. I just never thought that anyone would know about it and at my age- 72- very few people know anything about my playing or when I played. It was a totally different game. So, I am just honored that somebody might hear about it. My grandsons might hear about it or daughters would realize that an old man like me did play football. I am honored that the community thought enough of the old guys to look back and see some of the things they have done.”
For the past 37 years Clinton has been involved in running the Blount Youth Home in Vidalia.
“Our mission is to provide a safe, nurturing, structured environment for youth 10-18 olds that require inner reconstruction. We teach them life skills that develop positive self-esteem, positive self-discipline, and leadership qualities as they prepare for successful transition back to their families and communities. Our therapeutic home environment strives to teach teamwork, ownership and respect. We provide the opportunity to experience real life values, to gain peace of mind, self assurance and spiritual enhancement.” Blount Youth Home
Clinton says many of the lessons he learned on the football field still apply to the youth of 2018. “All of my participating in sports has given me the stability to do what I do now. It was a great platform and it taught me many of the values. It works very well with today’s activities that we are involved with.”
Another former Lyons Industrial Lions football player will be inducted in the second class of the Toombs County Athletic Hall of Fame. The late Robert Isaac, a teammate of Clinton’s, is also one of the 18 inductees.
“He was the man that when you needed the extra yards they were going to throw it to him, Clinton remembers. “He was larger than the average kid. He was taller and thicker (6-1 210 to 215 pounds). He was fast and he was one of those guys that just didn’t quit. He graduated from Lyons Industrial and went to Alabama A&M. He came back home and coached and I coached with him for two years.”