This is not so much about victories, defeats, schedules, scores, dates, and places; rather it is about people, performances, and personalities. It’s a story about a city and its football players. It’s a story about a coach and his boys. It’s a story about Shorty’s Boys, who became Shorty’s Men! It’s a story about a coach, H.L. “Shorty” Ogle, and his great personality, from whom emerged the tradition of the Decatur Red Raiders.
Come journey with me through the history of Decatur football from 1919 through 1963. You will learn about the beginning of football in Decatur, and how it became famous throughout the state of Alabama as a coach grew ordinary athletes into an extraordinary football team. He coached Decatur football from 1933 through the 1963 season but his influence lives on today in the lives of young, tough boys who have grown into tender old men with wonderful memories of the past.
Read and learn Shorty’s Rules which number a total of 26. Rule number 4, “Everyone must become resigned to paying the price – paying it in sweat, effort, and sacrifice. There is no substitute!” Rule number six, “There is no stationary period. A player is making progress or deteriorating.”
Open the pages and learn about a coach who made vast changes in the way offensive high school and college football is played in the South, who changed the design of the uniform and improved its safety. He also changed the quality of coaching philosophy by teaching young boys how to play as a team and how to live and as members of the community.
Read and become aware of an assistant coach, Aubrey Fuller, who had many opportunities bur never chose to be a head coach. He taught the fundamentals to such great players as Don Whitmire, Bud Lee, Hal Self, Tim Baker, Wes Thompson, and John Braswell.
Proudly, we, Shorty’s Boys, walk in the footsteps of our beloved coach, the man who contributed so much of his life to making men out of boys. Learn about one of his boys who became the governor of the State of Alabama.
Shorty’s Boys lives are the centerpieces of this history. Memories bring happiness. Memories and reflections bring appreciation. The stories are positive and true. Tender old men who were once small, tough boys remember the bygone days and sing the same songs of deep gratitude to the man who influenced their lives (and, in some cases more than their fathers). Read the hearts and the lines that are touching, uplifting, and often amusing.
These pages serve two purposes: first, to promote the fellowship of Shorty’s Boys and second, to promote the continuance of the H.L. Ogle Educational Trust Fund.
Purpose number one has already been fulfilled because of the number of Shorty’s Boys who have attended fellowship meetings, shared their stories from long ago, and purchased copies for family and friends.
Purpose number two is an on-going project that started in 1984, shortly before Coach died. A group of Shorty’s Boys residing in the Decatur area met on several occasions to determine the most appropriate way to honor coach H.L. “Shorty” Ogle. It was decided to establish a perpetual scholarship to provide an annual educational scholarship from earnings generated by the trust fund. The trust fund provides a scholarships each year to a student athlete graduate from Decatur HighSchool. A selection committee, which I have had the privilege to serve on for several years, identifies from a group of five candidates the most qualified boy or girl based on academic accomplishments, athletic skills, character, and need.
These pages are my gift to the memory of a great man and coach. It is my gift to the fellowship that brings both blessing and happiness to my life. It is my gift to my fellow team mates of 1944-46, especially those who meet today: Bob Sittason, Gene Ratliff, A.J. Coleman, Gene Lentz, Billy Joe Terry, Donald Loggins, Joe Brewer, Albert Brewer, Elmon Terry, Gilbert Thrasher, Marvin Golden, Charlie Jones, Marvin Taylor, Sam Evans, Ray Frederrick, Hugh Halbrooks, Theo Putnam, Barrett Shelton, Dick Still, David Chandler, and Joe Carl. It is my gift to today’s Red Raiders who are challenged with establishing and maintaining a like fellowship. It is my gift to the people of the city of Decatur who are still a determined people like the ones of years ago that rebuilt this city three times. Finally, it is a gift to me, the one who had the great pleasure of doing the research – reading and remembering those days gone by concerning my heroes of yesterday and today. It is my gift to me because of the new memories that I am depositing into my heart on each occasion that we, “Shorty’s Boys,” meet. It is my gift to my heroes of yesterday that remain my heroes today.
– Charles Riley