IN THIS CORNER

We didn’t have the Mullet Bucket last year, and that is significant.

We had a football rivalry game between Beaufort and Morehead City high schools for 70 consecutive years before the streak was broken in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

The series went on unbroken despite national tragedies. It went on despite attacks, both foreign and domestic. It went on despite hurricane after hurricane after hurricane. It went on despite nor’easters. It went on despite presidential resignations and impeachments.

And it went on despite wars with Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The only thing other than the pandemic to stop the rivalry series was World War II when football, for the most part, was discontinued.

Tidewater League baseball, softball, greyhound racing, and sailing races dominated the News-Times’ sports pages during the early fall months of the 1940s.

There were disruptions to those sports as well.

In the Sept. 3, 1948 issue, a story mentioned the Havelock baseball team didn’t play some of its games that season because of a polio quarantine.

Malcolm Muggeridge was right when he said “All new news is old news happening to new people.”

Thankfully, that disease was later eradicated by … wait for it … a vaccine.

Imagine that.

Marshallberg ended up winning the Tidewater that season by taking two of three from Beaufort in the playoff finals.

Beaufort lost a 7-6 contest in the first game despite a league-record 17 strikeouts from Stanley Johnson. Beaufort committed an eye-popping 13 errors, including five in the sixth inning when Marshallberg scored three.

Marshallberg’s Myron (Ace) Harris and Roy McKamey were credited with the two wins on the mound, including a 5-3 triumph in the second game.

The only football played those days mostly came from Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point. The Marines played teams from other military bases, as well as junior colleges, along the East Coast.

On Sept. 17, 1948, Morehead City school officials ruled out the possibility of high school football that season due to a lack of finances and players.

It took $2,600 to equip a football team back then.

In Sept., 1949, Capt. Charlie Nelson won the Gib Arthur Memorial Trophy in the Morehead City Sailing Club’s annual Labor Day Race, covering the quarter-mile course in 1 hour, 17 minutes, 45 seconds to finish ahead of Thurlow Whealton.

Morehead City won the Tidewater League title later that month by taking two of three from East Carteret in the playoff finals.

James Webb won his 13th game on the mound as Morehead City finished with a 27-4 record.

In Sept. 1949, the Beaufort Jaycees announced Beaufort High School would have football the following season if it could raise $500.

Through the efforts of Wiley Taylor Jr., 22 pairs of pants and jerseys had been obtained from Wake Forest, free of charge, as well as 22 helmets, which had been used only during several practice sessions.

Thanks to the tireless work of the Jaycees, football came earlier than expected later that season.

Beaufort took the field for the first time since pre-war days on Nov. 11, 1949 in front of 1,500 fans at Wade Brothers Park in Morehead City and beat Richlands 19-0 on Nov. 11, 1949.

Julian Austin quarterbacked a team that wore the black and gold of Wake Forest to victory with Pat Fodrie and Billy Eudy also contributing to the win on offense.

Beaufort’s Black high school, Queen Street, played one night later, falling 25-6 to Patillo of Tarboro

Coach Shadrack Barrow mentioned William Jordan, Alec Dudley, Joe Washington, Benjamin Austin, Carlton Jordan, Theodore Becton, Herby Warren, Leland Hucks, Thomas Jordan, Gerald Becton, Alfred Marbley, Weldon Willoughby, Leroy Cox, Alto McKinney, and Randolph Tootle for their fine play.

Beaufort played just one more game, losing 14-12 to Swansboro on Nov. 18, 1949. Jimmy Fodrie had a touchdown called back that would have made Beaufort 2-0 that season.

Football was back in full swing the following season.

Morehead City played its first home game in 10 years on Sept. 15, 1950 when it sank Vanceboro 33-6.

Over 1,000 fans in attendance heard the names of Clifton “Strug” Steed, Mickey Woolard, Mack Willis, John Ballou and Larry Woolard over the public address system throughout the night.

And finally, on Friday, Oct. 6, 1950, Beaufort played Morehead City on the football field for the first time since 1941.

Nearly 3,000 spectators arrived at a Wade Brothers Park that was outfitted with new bleachers, benches and grandstand. Wallace Fisheries had donated the goal posts.

Unfortunately, those fans weren’t rewarded with much of a game as the teams dueled to a 0-0 tie.

With the tie, neither squad was able to lay claim to the coveted trophy filled with Dom’s Lunch hamburgers.

Dom Femia, a Morehead City Jaycee, was owner of Dom’s Lunch on 18th Street and apparently the originator of the Mullet Bucket idea.

Over a month after that game, the teams met again on Thanksgiving night in a game dubbed the “Fish Bowl” by the Jaycees, and 3,500 fans at Beaufort Field watched as Morehead City took home the first-ever Mullet Bucket title by a 21-12 score.

The rivalry between those two towns, first Beaufort versus Morehead City, then East Carteret versus West Carteret – with one year of West versus Beaufort in 1964 – was played for 70 straight years … until last season.

(Send comments or questions to jj@thenewstimes.com or follow him on Twitter @jjsmithccnt.)

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