Lyons, Georgia’s Booster Stadium turned 50 years old with a celebration which was full of surprises. Before the opening kickoff between Dodge County and the Toombs County Bulldogs players from the 1965, 1967 and 1975 Lyons Senior High teams had a reunion above the south end zone. Watch a Bryce Braddy slideshow
Suddenly out of the sky appeared a helicopter which landed on the 50-yard line, right on the Flying T. Two footballs were delivered and the game began. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were in a way too generous mood when it came to possession of the pigskin. Toombs turned the ball over five times as a three-point game (10-7 Dodge) turned into a 30-point rout as the Indians opened up a 37-7 lead in the third quarter. Undefeated Dodge improved to 6-0 with a 51-13 lead. Bronza Jones scored on a three-yard run for the Bulldogs in the second quarter and quarterback Dalton McBride scored the final touchdown of the game with 3:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Returning to the Pit were former head coaches Tom Avret (1965-1968), Jacky Jones (1969-1978 and 1984-1988) and Rex Hodges (1989-1991). Hodges, of course will be back at Booster Stadium with his 5-0 Dodge County Indians. He has never coached a Dodge team in the Pit. However, in 1996 he lost in the Pit 34-6 as head coach of Bacon County. Hodges went 7-7 in Booster Stadium as head coach of the Bulldogs. He had a perfect 5-0 record in 1990 and coached the first Toombs County team to a victory over Vidalia in the Pit.
Y-101 Story on 1st TCHS win over Vidalia
Coach Avret was the first of 10 Bulldog head coaches to lead a team into Booster Stadium. Avret went 16-6 in Booster Stadium and 1967 was 6-1 in a season in which Lyons played for a state championship losing at home to Washington-Wilkes 27-0.
Coach Jones was the first coach to go 5-0 in the Pit in a season. He accomplished that in his first season as head coach. That 1969 Lyons Senior High team went 8-2. Jones was also the first coach to go 6-0 in Booster Stadium in a season. That was accomplished by his state championship team in 1975. Jones went 46-28 in the Pit as the Bulldogs head coach winning 62% of his games.
Jones was an assistant coach that first season in Booster Stadium and he said the Bulldogs’ new home field was a showcase with many playoff games played on the field not involving the Bulldogs. Bradwell Institute won a state championship in 1965 and the Tigers played two region playoff games at Booster Stadium beating Vidalia 27-13 and Hawkinsville 21-13.
Over the past 50 years the Bulldogs have won 64.7% (156-85) of their games played in Booster Stadium. Coach Jones says the Dawgs felt the home field advantage from the start. “I would say from the opening ball game, at least it felt that way anyway. All the young kids couldn’t wait to play on that field. The opposing teams would tell us that they would look forward to coming here and they would actually bring pretty good crowds to see Booster Stadium.”
Coach Jones is still a regular at Booster Stadium. He doesn’t sit in the the stands, but you can find him sitting in his own seat near the fence in the south end zone. He says he still looks forward to going to the Pit on a Friday night, “I sure do. I go by there and drive by there once or twice a week. It’s a pretty place to me. It always has been.”
Jones says even though there are nice stadiums around these days, “Ours is still pretty unique.”
Coach Jones talks to Y-101 Radio about the 50th anniversary of Booster Stadium
Listen to Coach Jacky Jones talks about the 1975 Lyons Senior High Bulldog State Championship Team
Former Toombs County coach Pat Collins confirmed that he is the one who nicknamed Booster Stadium the “Pit”
Mark Stroud is the winningest coach in Booster Stadium. Stroud went 68-23 winning 74.7% of his games. He has the longest winning streak in the Pit taking 19 straight from 1995 to 1997. Coincidentally, that streak was halted by a Dodge County team coached by John Peacock, who will most certainly be in the Pit for the celebration. He was at the Dodge County at Toombs County Middle School game on Wednesday. Dodge and Toombs opened the 1998 season and the Bulldogs were leading 14-7 prior to the Indians scoring a late touchdown. Coach Peacock decided to go for two and the win instead of one and the tie and the Indians converted for a 15-14 victory.