POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — On Sept. 30, 1921, the first Point Pleasant High School Big Blacks football squad took the field against Bidwell, Ohio — they lost 41 – 0, but unlike some opponents who’ve come and gone over the years, PPHS still stands and the football program is celebrating its Centennial.
Events are planned next week to note the 100th anniversary of the program, including a parade, pep rally and the Battle of the Bridge game with historic rival, Gallia Academy High School.
For those keeping score, according to records kept by Ohio Valley Publishing, the Blue Devils lead the series 41-37-5. This will be the 84th meeting between the two schools with memories on both sides of the river that go beyond the final scores – whether those be memorable pep rallies or a reported fight in the late 1960’s that is said to have put the series on hiatus until the late 1970’s. The two squads first played each other in 1922 with PPHS getting its first win over the Blue Devils in 1925 with a score of 19-0.
The two squads last played one another in 2019 when PPHS traveled to Memorial Field and Gallipolis — the Blue Devils outlasted the Big Blacks that year, 14-13.
With no game in 2020 due to COVID-19, the updated version of the Battle of the Bridge Trophy, a Rotary tradition, has been resting at Gallia Academy since 2019. The upcoming Sept. 3 rivalry game will be the culmination of several events slated for next week celebrating this Centennial season at PPHS.
PPHS Head Football Coach Dave Darst praised the work of the PPHS Football Boosters and volunteers in putting the events together, which is meant to recognize the past, present and future of the program.
Darst also had high praise for fans, supporters and alumni of the program whom he described as not just faithful but having the presence of that 12th man on the field during games at Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field at PPHS — this celebration is also for them.
Besides the posterity that any 100-year anniversary brings, Darst said the celebration has a personal meaning for him that goes beyond his current coaching position. He is part of four generations of his family who have played football for PPHS — his grandfather in the 1930’s, his father in the 1950’s, himself in the 1980’s and his son who was on the Class AA 2011 team which went all the way to the state championship game in Wheeling, eventually falling to Wayne.
“Ninety of those 100 years [of football], a Darst has been playing [at PPHS],” he said.
Next week’s 100 Years of Football schedule of events is as follows:
Thursday, Sept. 2 at 6 p.m., a parade will make its way south along Main Street in Point Pleasant, with lineup starting at the old Central Elementary School. In addition to the football team, the parade will include the PPHS Black Knight Band and other school teams and organizations. Organizers are asking for alumni to join in the parade as well. Those interested can register by sending a message to the PPHS Football Facebook page.
Following the parade on Thursday, is a pep rally at PPJ/SHS’ Ohio Valley Bank Track and Field starting at 7:30 p.m. Emceed by Point Pleasant Mayor, and PPHS alumnus, Brian Billings, speakers will include former standouts and coaches from the PPHS Football program, as well as representatives from squads over the years and other distinguished alumni. The PPHS band, cheerleaders and choir members will also be in attendance.
Then, on Friday, Sept. 3, a special tailgating event will take place outside the school starting at 4:15 p.m. A limited amount of spaces are for rent and are filling fast. Those interested in the remaining spots should contact the Facebook page for PPHS Football.
During the tailgating event, the PPHS Football Boosters will have a table set up for former players to register to be part of the team walk on prior to the game at 6:45 p.m. The first 100 will receive a commemorative “100 Years of PPHS Football” lapel pin. Special “100 Years” t-shirts and hats will also be for sale.
Proceeds from the tailgating rental space and merchandise benefits the program and “goes right to the kids,” according to Darst.
The Battle of the Bridge Rotary traveling trophy, commissioned by Pleasant Valley Hospital in 2019 and sponsored by the Gallipolis and Point Pleasant Rotary Clubs which started the trophy tradition years ago, will be on display near the gate entrance as well. PVH is also the game sponsor.
Though that 1921 team lost five games, they did have two wins against Cheshire and Ravenswood, respectively. The winning has continued with PPHS Football going on to play 1,005 games. Prior to this week’s game with Greenbrier East, the Big Blacks had a record of 523-426-26.
Darst, who also helped establish the PPHS Athletic Hall of Fame, said he was a “believer” in recognizing the achievements of the past and how that connected to appreciating the present, and presently, there is a season of football to be played during this Centennial year at PPHS.
“This is what Friday nights in a small town are all about,” Darst said. “I love it.”
© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.