I spoke with former Homewood football player Wade Kirkpatrick about the 1974 Championship team and the book he was writing about it under the pseudonym of Patrick Kirk. You can listen to the episode at https://dev.shadescahabahistory.com/podcast/wade-kirkpatrick-fighting-patriots-special-edition/. Below is a description of the book and at the end is a link to orders yours online.
Fighting Patriots tells the story of a brand new high school in Homewood, Alabama in 1972 and how a twenty-three-year-old, first-time head coach built a winning football program. Told from the point-of-view of more than thirty contributors who participated, the book is more than game highlights, scores and players ‘ bio’s; it’s the entire community it took to win a State Championship in the third year.
The stories include personal triumphs and challenges during the three seasons and later in life. The camaraderie continued for forty-five years and counting and even though some teammates are far away, they come home to join in reunions and lunch gatherings every now and again.
The records that stand are few, but the memories as they fade haven’t lost their meaning. The important things are told in the book. A tell-all it’s not. There’s a narrator who was a Vietnam vet, two assistant coaches who stayed and won five more State Championships with a student coach who led the way to all five, with a son of an original player on one of the teams. The author played all three years and uses his stories as a backdrop to the challenges faced by many who played.
There was a college football National Champion, a healthcare equipment inventor, a thirty-something corporate executive, a police officer hero, one of the most sought after surgical nurses in the state, an attorney of wide acclaim, several entrepreneurs, salesmen, a Peace Corp legend, and many average joe’s that raised their families in the town they grew up in.
The Coaches, all of them, trained a dozen college scholarship recipients in the three years they were together and each taught other subjects, in addition to the eighty hour weeks during the season.
The young head coach didn’t just bring together players and coaches, he built the program around the entire community and included everyone as equals striving for a dream. The players credit the coaches, principal and teachers with building in them a winning attitude that has carried them through tough times in their lives. Some called them Cinderella, they call themselves blessed beyond any rags to riches story.