Brandon High honoring 1969 football team before key game

Members of the 1969 Brandon Eagles football team carry assistant coach Julian Johnson off the field after the team beat Clearwater in the state semifinal game.

Photo courtesy of Brandon High Alumni Association (1969)

Members of the 1969 Brandon Eagles football team carry assistant coach Julian Johnson off the field after the team beat Clearwater in the state semifinal game.

BRANDON

Brandon has long been associated with tradition.

One of the oldest schools in the county, Brandon High opened in 1914 and boasts of legions of famed alumni, including Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard and former state Sen. Tom Lee.

"It's one of those traditions where everyone knows a relative or a family member who went to Brandon," Brandon High Football Club member Cheryl Stanbro said. "It's always been very much a family tradition."

Tonight, the current players will get a glimpse into the past before the biggest game of the season.

"It will be a special night," Stanbro said.

Brandon will recognize the state-runnerup 1969 football team before the current crop of Eagles faces East Bay in a game with major playoff implications. Should Brandon win, the Eagles would be guaranteed a spot in Monday's three-way tiebreaker. If Brandon wins tonight and either Durant or Plant City lose, the Eagles will be in the playoffs.

"It's great to be doing this (Friday), especially after we beat Plant City last week," Stanbro said.

This year's Eagles will have to do more than just make the playoffs to match the '69 team. That squad went 10-1-2, and held eight opponents scoreless. It advanced in the postseason with a 20-6 win over Clearwater and a 7-6 victory against Miami Jackson.

However, it came up short in the Class 2A championship game against Tallahassee Leon, which was led by legendary coach Gene Cox and future NFL player Buddy Brown. The Lions downed Brandon 24-14 but that Eagles squad is still held in high esteem.

Mike Burnett, who started at quarterback before breaking his leg in the Clearwater game, will be one of the players honored tonight.

"I think that's it's great that they are recognizing us," said Burnett, who played at the University of Tampa and went on to become Armwood's first football coach in 1984.

Burnett's family has a steep tradition at Brandon. His father, James, was the president of the Brandon Booster Club and the field house was named in his honor. Brother Ken went on to play at Florida State and his other brother Brian would have also played football for the Seminoles, but he tragically lost his life in a car accident the summer before his freshman season.

As part of the pregame festivities, the booster club will present the Burnett family with Brian's framed No. 40 jersey and varsity jacket that will hang in the field house.

"Brian was a great athlete," Mike Burnett said of Brian. "He also played varsity basketball and ran track. My mother will be there tonight and it's very special for out family."

Former coaches and administrators, including Johnny Owens, Dr. Orland Bryant, Linwood Nelson and Lyle Flagg are expected to attend the ceremony, which begins at 6:45 p.m. Stanbro said there are some other special presentations planned, but she wouldn't reveal those.

"Friday is going to be about the great history and tradition that has always been a part of Brandon," she said. "The '69 team epitomizes what we're all about and where we want to be again."

Brandon Wright can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

. fast facts

Revisiting 1969

•The No. 1 song on Nov. 4, 1969 was Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley. Other top songs: Sugar, Sugar, the Archies, I Can't Get Next To You, the Temptations; Come Together/Something, Beatles; Leaving On A Jet Plane, Jefferson Airplane; Someday, We'll Be Together, the Supremes.

•A dozen eggs cost 57 cents.

•Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon on July 20.

•A three-day concert was held on a 600-acre farm in upstate New York. It became known as Woodstock. Among the top television shows were Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Gunsmoke and Love, American Style.

•The New York Mets, who had never won more than 73 games, captured the World Series by defeating the Baltimore Orioles.

•A stamp cost 6 cents.

Brandon High honoring 1969 football team before key game 11/03/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 3:39pm]

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