In the year 1929, a tall, muscular, and lean athlete, fresh from an outstanding college football career at Birmingham-Southern, began a coaching saga that ended on a cold night in 1963 when Decatur and Deshler played to a 7-7 tie. His name was, and always will be, “Coach” H.L. Ogle. Somewhere during those years he was given the name, “Shorty.” We call him Coach. Some of the opponent coaches said the H.L. stood for high and long. He became the Dean of Alabama High School Coaches. During those years, he piled up a fantastic record of 262 victories, 72 loses, and 13 ties.
Coach said, “I think 35 years is long enough for one fellow.” During those years he won three Tennessee Valley Conference titles after the League’s inception in 1950. Coach said, “I certainly could not forget the 1947, 1948, and 1949 seasons” when the Raiders were unbeaten. Also, the Raider coach couldn’t forget the 1933 team that was undefeated his first year as coach of Decatur High School.
Old players, as well as fans, remember that he demanded a water bucket be placed in front of his position on the bench, but later he gave that up for ice as he walked the sidelines. He stood tall on the field as a coach and as a man. The field where the Raiders play today is named Ogle Stadium in his honor.
His accomplishments were extraordinary and his victories were many, but Shorty’s Boys remember Coach as a mentor, a friend, and a molder of boys into men. His knowledge, character, and rare capacity for finding and motivating the hidden skills of young athletes have inspired many. His genuine love of the game and its players was accompanied by the rare gift of kindly humor and quiet teaching skills, which endeared him to all that were blessed by his friendship. He said more with his eyes than most coaches say with their mouth. We looked up to Coach – still do – and honor his memory as a gentleman of the Old South. We give him this honor because he contributed so much and so richly to our lives. As we laughed together, cried together, worked together, and played together we learned his quality of character. We remember him as a great and kindly coach, man, and friend.
Shorty’s Boys played football because it was fun. Ask any of us: we loved the fun, family, and fellowship. We loved the game. Coach taught us that! We won with class and we lost with class. There was no trash talk: win or lose. We were champions on and off the field. We lived for the competition; we lived for the practices; and we lived to win; and we did! In our memory, we feel the pain and see the blood, sweat, and tears. That’s who we were. That’s who we are. We are football players. We are Shorty’s Boys.