2016 McGill vs. 1988 Vigor: the case for supremacy

MOBILE, AL — Baker coach Danny Smith may have started the discussion of the season with his comments about McGill-Toolen.

“I’ve been around a long time and seen a lot of teams and I think their team is as good as (1988) Vigor,” Smith said.

Yellow Jacket coach Caleb Ross shook his head at the high praise that followed his team’s 42-7 win over the Hornets.

“That is an unreal expectation to put on our guys,” Ross told AL.com’s Ben Thomas. “We just want to be the best we can on Friday nights.”

That Wolves squad went undefeated, outscoring opponents 387-44 over the season, winning the state title and ending up as ESPN’s national champions. The team’s closest win was over Leflore—Vigor still more than doubled the Rattlers’ points total, 27-13.

“It’s hard to compare any team to the Vigor team of 1988,” said Randy Kennedy, WNSP program director. “I was there to see Vigor beat Berry in the 1988 state championship game and I said at that time that it was the best team I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen anything since to change my mind.”

The current defending 7A champions are 21-1 since the beginning of last year and have outscored its opponents 331-82 this year alone.

“I think what separates McGill is just how consistent they are,” said Murphy coach Rick Cauley, whose team lost 43-0 to McGill in week three. “Almost every team has good players, but they bring it every week and have for a long time.

“They have beaten a lot of good teams soundly,” said Jimmy Wigfield, former Press Register high school correspondent. “I think Vigor 88 is still the greatest high school team in state history, and here is why.

“If McGill-Toolen allows only seven points in the playoffs, as Vigor did, and wins back-to-back state championships, as Vigor did, and wins the national championship, as Vigor did, and sends six players to SEC schools, as Vigor did, and five of their players go on to play pro football, as Vigor did, then we can say McGill is just as good.”

Coach Ross seems to agree.

“That team is legendary,” Ross said. “If we finish undefeated and win the state title, maybe there can be some comparisons made. But that Vigor team had so many guys go on to play college and even pro football.”

No matter what the answer to the question ends up being, Wigfield said there was something that made that Vigor team special.

“Vigor was beyond great,” Wigfield said. “They were like a college team in many respects. They drew huge crowds. Whenever they played, it was like a college atmosphere. People knew they were watching history in the making.”

For more, check out Prep Spotlight featuring Thomas, Kennedy, and Pigskin Pete Wednesdays at noon.