By Ken K. GreenIt’s football season and this week I feel compelled to share a bit of the local history of the gridiron game as discussed on Facebook’s Barnesvillle Memories page.When asked the question as to the greatest high school football game played by a Barnesville team, Lamar County High School alumni quickly referred to a pair of wins over Mary Persons.The first was in 1976 when the 6-1 Trojans traveled to Forsyth and beat the undefeated and number three ranked Bulldogs 7-6. The second was a 7-0 Lamar win at Summers Field Memorial Stadium over a Mary Persons team that lost in the state championship game that year. The Trojans finished the season 10-2.The Gordon Military crowd unanimously agreed that a 15-13 win over Manchester on a last second field goal in the snow in 1969 was the Bulldogs’ greatest win although three years earlier the team had its best season, finishing 8-1-1 in 1966.Although not mentioned, one has to imagine the annual battles between Gordon and arch-rival Georgia Military of Milledgeville, both prep and collegiate, were epic. Many of the collegiate contests were played on or around Thanksgiving Day, adding to the pageantry.The Gordon people also recalled several junior college Bulldogs who went on to play at four year schools and in the NFL including Taz Anderson (Georgia Tech, St. Louis Cardinals), Brent Adams (Tennessee-Chattanooga, Atlanta Falcons), Gary Barnes (Clemson, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons), Tommy Morrow (Southern Mississippi, Oakland Raiders), Tommy Pharr (Mississippi State, Buffalo Bills) and Ken Roski (Illinois, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions).Lamar County High School boasts one former Trojan who played at a four year school and professionally in Craig Ogletree (Auburn, Cincinnati Bengals).I’ve always heard legendary University of Georgia and Minnesota Viking quarterback Fran Tarkenton played here against Gordon as a member of UGA’s freshman team in the 1950s as Gordon’s junior college team regularly played the frosh of major universities from around the Southeast. In that regard, there’s no telling how many gridiron greats played here over the years.One of the greatest football players in history to grace the fields of Barnesville is Robert McWhorter who played prep football for Gordon Institute from 1907-09. McWhorter went on to star in football and baseball at the University of Georgia and was named the Bulldogs’ first ever collegiate All-American in football. He turned down offers to play professionally to attend law school at the University of Virginia.After graduating, McWhorter returned to Athens to practice law and served many years as mayor of the Classic City as well as teaching law at UGA. A dormitory on the Athens campus, which used to serve as housing for all Bulldog athletes, is named after him.Delving further into local football lore, we find that Barnesville is considered the birthplace of high school football in Georgia. According to the Valdosta High School football media guide, in 1896 the Cadets of R.E. Lee Institute in Thomaston fielded the first ever high school team in the state, losing to the sub-varsity of Gordon Institute here.The following is an account of that first ever prep gridiron battle from the Thursday, Dec. 17, 1896 edition of The Barnesville Gazette. ‘Saturday (Dec. 12, 1896) afternoon at 3 o’clock, the second team of Gordon Institute and the R.E. Lee Institute team of Thomaston played a game on the campus of Gordon Institute and Barnesville won easily. Fully as large a crowd was in attendance and the game was full of interest. Barnesville won handily, 54-0. Dexter Hunt (right halfback) and Lamar Hunt (quarterback) did some playing that created wild enthusiasm.’Eight years after that first ever prep football game in the state, Georgia began playing high school football as an organized sport and Gordon claimed the first ever state football championship, beating Georgia Military Academy of College Park 39-0. It was the first of seven state titles for Gordon as they also won the championship in 1906, ‘˜08, ‘˜09, ‘˜11, ‘˜12 and ‘˜14.In 1928, Gordon Institute had the last team from Barnesville to play for a state championship, losing to the Blacksmiths of Tech High at Grant Field in Atlanta 26-6 on Dec. 15.