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THE EARLY YEARS (1915-49)

Winston County Agricultural High School, as Noxapater High was officially known in the early years, opened in 1914. The agriculture teacher, A.D. Dixon, got up a football team and played surrounding teams on an informal basis. The first team included Gullard Estes, Lucian Fulcher, Wayne Fulton, Spinks Hancock, Frank Kilpatrick, Ira Kirkpatrick Sr., Warren Luke, Wayne Slawson, and Forrest Woods. The Winston County Journal referred to the team as the Noxapater A.H.S. "Aggies."

Dixon coached the team until 1928 and gave the team over to Doss Fulton who coached until 1934. Under Fulton, the team became known as the "Tigers" when the school was renamed Noxapater High School. Fulton was succeeded by T.E. "Eddie" Lundy (1935-36), Hunter Denson (1937-38), Robert Cox (1939-40), Harold Ming (1941-44, 1946-51), and Doyle Perry (1945) to round out the early years.

Noxapater did not belong to a conference until 1950 and played many teams that were much larger such as Louisville, Starkville, Kosciusko, and Philadelphia and sometimes surprised the opponents with their toughness. The Noxapater A.H.S "Aggies" upset Louisville 13-3 in 1923 and came close to doing it again in 1929, but fell 18-12 on a late score by the Wildcats. Noxapater tied a powerful Starkville team in 1936. Noxapater was able to hold its own against teams of roughly the same size such as Ethel, Weir, Longview, Pheba, Artesia, and Sturgis. Noxapater had many memorable games in the early years. People still talk about the 18-7 upset of Union in 1943, one of the biggest wins in the first half-century of Noxapater football.

Several outstanding players wore Tiger uniforms in the early part of the century. Harold Ming (1926-29) went on to become a star offensive back at Mississippi College. Frank Caperton (1926-29) was an outstanding end for Noxapater and continued his playing career at Mississippi State where he lettered in 1930 and 1931. Landon Mitchell, offensive tackle (1933-36), won a scholarship to play at Southern Misissippi. Wendell Webb (1936-40) had a stellar career at Mississippi College where he was named "Little All-American" his senior year.


THE BIG BLACK CONFERENCE YEARS (1950-76)

Noxapater joined the Big Black Conference in 1950 and was a member until the league's demise in 1976. Coach Ira Kirkpatrick Jr. took over the coaching reins in 1952 and led the varsity for two seasons before taking over the "peewee" program. Leon Burton coached from 1954-59 and was followed by Doug Sullivan (1960-62), Charles Porter (1963-65), Jimmy Willcutt (1966), Buck Kennedy (1967, 69-83), and Fred Roane (1968).

The Tigers had success in the conference, playing for the championship in 1957, 1958, 1971, 1972, and 1974. The 1957 squad was 9-1 with eight shutout wins going into the conference title game. They fell to New Hope at Louisville by the score of 26-0. New Hope also defeated the Tigers the following year 46-7 in the title game played at Columbus. Noxapater won its first BBC title in 1971 to cap an undefeated season. The 1971 team defeated Durant 42-0 in the finals at Louisville. Likewise, the 1972 team also went undefeated and beat Cumberland 40-0 in the championship game again played at Louisville. The 1974 team fell in the finals to Sturgis by the score of 14-8 at Kosciusko. Noxapater was a member of the Big Black Conference 26 years and had an overall record of 138-108-12 during the era.


EAST CENTRAL ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (1976-80)

Noxapater was a member of the East Central Athletic Conference from 1976-80 taking conference titles in 1979 and 1980. The undefeated 1979 Tiger unit was one of the most dominant teams ever at Noxapater. No opponent came within two touchdowns of them all year as they breezed through the regular season. They ended the year with a 52-30 win over Stringer in the East Central Bowl in Decatur. The 1980 ECAC champions again went undefeated in the conference, but lost to Newton in the East Central Bowl 14-8 in overtime. This was one of the highest scoring team in school history with 391 points (35.5 per game). The 1980 squad scored 55 touchdowns and 30 two-point conversions on the way to a 10-1 mark. During the five years that Noxapater belonged to the ECAC, the team went 45-9 and went to four bowls. Buck Kennedy, Noxapater's winningest head coach, led the team each year.


THE 1980'S

The winning tradition at Noxapater did not miss a beat in the 1980's, but some major changes were on tap. A state playoff system went into effect in 1981 dismantling the old conference network. Also, Coach Buck Kennedy, who had led the team since 1967 stepped down as coach in 1983 to become principal. Nevertheless, Noxapater had a great ride in the 1980's, posting winning seasons nine times. The highlight of the 1980's came in 1986 when the Tigers went 13-1 for Coach Mike Hatcher and finished as the state runner-up to Enterprise. The team was ranked number-one in the state before dropping the final at Mississippi College. The 1989 team also had an undefeated regular season and ended with a record of 11-1. Mount Olive got five touchdown passes from future NFL star Steve "Air" McNair to oust the Tigers from the state playoffs in the second round. Noxapater's overall record in the 1980's was 83-31.


THE 1990's

With the coming of the 1990's, Noxapater fans had become used to winning every year. In fact, the Tigers had only one losing season (4-6 in 1983) from 1970-90. The 1990's would show that even the best of programs can come upon lean times. Just as Noxapater dominated teams such as Ethel and Weir in the 1970's and 1980's, the tables turned and those teams took 13 of 16 meetings between 1990 and 1997. Another traditional opponent, Nanih Waiya, took consecutive games in the series with Noxapater for the first time since 1968-69. The decade closed with the Tigers again fielding excellent teams. Noxapater has had four different head coaches in the decade to date. Mike Hatcher left in 1990 and returned for the 1994 season. Kenny Burton led the team from 1991-93 and long-time assistant Bobby Goss took over for the 1995 and 1996 campaigns. Jim Ray came from Louisville in 1997 where he had been an assistant on several state championship teams. He led Noxapater to a 7-4 record in his first year. His 1998 squad went 8-4 and qualified for the state playoffs. They lost to eventual state champion Smithville in the opening round. Ray's 1999 unit was the best team of the decade. They used a record-setting offense to win 13 games and claim the North Mississippi championship. The Tigers scored 442 points in 15 games including 70 against Thomastown.

THE 2000's

The new decade began with Coach Ray leading the team to another ten-win season. Behind senior quarterback Ryan Smith and senior running back Derek Carter, the Tigers scored over 400 points for the second time in school history. Noxapater made it to the second round of the state playoffs before bowing to undefeated Durant.


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