It was a trip down memory lane at The Nourishing Place Chapel in Gulfport on Thursday.
Legendary former Gulfport High School football coach Lindy Callahan joined author Neil White and longtime statewide sports reporter Rick Cleveland in promoting the latter two’s combined effort, The Mississippi Football Book.
The book is a detailed deep dive into the state that has produced more NFL players, per capita, than any other in the nation. White and Cleveland pass along stories from the professional ranks, as well as many seminal moments in Mississippi’s storied history with the sport.
Among the stories packed in the book’s pages is that of the state’s first-ever college football All-American, Bay St. Louis native Marchy Schwartz, who shined at Notre Dame.
But the conversation Thursday focused on two events that occurred one year apart. On paper, the box score shows only a slim 7-6 win for the Admirals over Biloxi on Nov. 22, 1956. Buried in the history is a skirmish that took place between former Commodore Doug Medley and Indian running back AJ Holloway.
Neither forgot that day. The following year, Callahan’s Commodores prepared for a visit to Biloxi. According to Medley, Holloway had been ejected from six of the previous nine games and Holloway and the Indians were openly targeting GHS players before the final play of the game.
“I saw them in the huddle, pointing, as if to say, ‘you take this one, and I’ll take that one,’ ” Medley says in an excerpt from the book.
What followed was a brawl between the two teams in a game that the Indians won, 19-10. Benches cleared and soon the fans and parents followed from the stands.
“They started a little skirmish,” Callahan, who turns 96 on Christmas Day, said at The Nourishing Place. “I don’t know who won, I think Doug (Medley) did. And all the stands emptied to the field.”
Callahan said he gathered members of the school board the next day and showed them film of the game. The group ultimately decided to end the rivalry series and the two sides wouldn’t meet again until 1968.
Holloway would go on to be elected Biloxi’s mayor in 1993 and served until 2015.
The Mississippi Football Book is described as “part narrative and part encyclopedia” with stories and stats ranging from high school to junior college to college to the NFL. It can be purchased at Pass Christian Books or at nautiluspublishing.com.