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Blast #11: A “Super” Aiken Memory

Aiken High School
Class of 1971



The Super Bowl that happened during our senior year was one of the sloppiest ever. The Baltimore Colts turned the ball over seven times on the way to their win. Now, 50 years later, that remains a Super Bowl record, as do the 10 penalties called that day on the losing Dallas Cowboys. So, what does any of that have to do with Aiken Senior High?

Well, had it not been for an Aiken alum, that game might still be going on. With nine seconds left on the clock, former Falcon Jim O’Brien booted a 32-yard field goal, giving the Colts the trophy. And, at the corner of Belmont Avenue and Memory Lane, we recall how one of the shyer members of the Aiken staff feeling inspired to pay him tribute.

Often referred to as the “Blooper Bowl,” the game was the first championship played after the NFL completed its merger with the AFL. The matchup of NFC and AFC champs at Miami’s Orange Bowl was also the first NFL championship to be played on artificial turf.

The game came down to the right foot and leg of this rookie place kicker and wide receiver from the University of Cincinnati. His long brown hair inspired his Colt teammates to nickname him Lassie. This was the first Super Bowl to be decided by a field goal and it would be another 20 years before that would happen again.

The day after O’Brien’s kick gave the Colts that 16-13 win, our usually quiet librarian Kathryn Ryder asked if she could have a turn during the morning announcements. If memory serves, it’s the only time in our four years at Aiken that she spoke to the entire student body.

Her timid delivery confirmed that she hadn’t had much public speaking experience, but she read through the script she’d written, her hand shaking noticeably as she paid tribute to the Aiken grad who won the game, mentioning that he had been a library volunteer during his time at the school. It was obviously important to her that she acknowledge this Super Bowl feat by one of her crew.

Do you have a memory from our Aiken days that you’d like to share? We encourage you to do so on our free website, Aiken71.com, or you can forward those thoughts to geoff_mayfield@att.net. Your entry can be as short as a sentence or two; as long as an essay if you feel inspired.

If you have not done so yet, we encourage you to set up your classmate profile at Aiken71.com. Even if you cannot join us at our 50th Anniversary Reunion, our free website can be a place where you catch up with Aiken ’71 alums.

Incidentally, Ms. Ryder is one of the staff members who you will find chronicled on our website’s new Our Teachers, Then and Now feature. And, just think of all the memories we can share when we gather Nov. 6, 7-11 p.m., at Centennial Barn in suburban Cincinnati. Hope to see you there.

Geoff Mayfield