When that doctor asked me Son how did you get in this condition I said hey sawbones I’m just carryin’ on an old family tradition – Hank Williams, Jr.
In any given year a Booneville Bearcat football roster is populated with offspring and siblings of those who proudly donned the royal purple and old gold. The 2013 roster is no exception.
To name a few, Damon May is the son of All State tailback Randy May, Cody Simpson is the son of Larry Simpson, Ian Lynch is the son of Wesley Lynch, and James Ray is the son of Bruce Ray and brother of Allen "Gator" Ray.
But this year some Bearcats carried the tradition of family to a whole new level.
Bryson May, the son of Ricky May; and Michael Drawbaugh and Tyler Mathews, the adoptive and stepson, respectively, of Gary Simpson, are the first father and son state champions — Ricky May is also the uncle of Damon May and Gary Simpson is the uncle of Cody Simpson.
"Me and Ricky know what it’s like being down there and thinking, man, this is where the Razorbacks play," said Gary Simpson.
Ricky May had no trouble picking which title was more enjoyable.
"It’s better when your son does it. It’s a lot more exciting," said Ricky May. "I hoped Brock would have that chance, of course he didn’t get that opportunity. But any time you get to coach your own kids it’s an awesome experience, and when you get to coach them in a game you love in a town you love and they play in a state championship game it’s an experience very few coaches get.
"Let alone win one."
Ricky May, who got to be a part of his son’s title because his job is that of defensive coordinator of the Bearcats; and Gary Simpson, were on the War Memorial Stadium turf when Booneville beat Lake Village, 42-13.
"I was happy for them," said Gary Simpson. "I was probably as excited as they were."
Gary Simpson also got out his title ring and posed a poignant question to his son and stepson throughout the week.
"I asked them do you want a watch, or a ring," said Gary Simpson who was a sophomore when the Bearcats lost the 1985 title game, but scored a watch for a 13-1 season. "It will be nice to be a three ring family."
Ricky May also scored a touchdown in the 1986 title game, capping a 75-yard drive with a 9-yard run that made it 28-13.
On Dec. 20, Bryson May one-upped Dad by scoring twice – both of the Bearcat touchdowns in the game – and running for 105 yards. Those scores gave Bryson May a school record 29 touchdowns on the season.
"When I scored a touchdown in (19)86 it was one of the most wonderful feelings of my life," said Ricky May. "To see him score a touchdown and know it broke the record, then get up and point to the sky, giving thanks, I kind of choked. It was a special time, especially at War Memorial (Stadium)."
Bryson May also had three tackles and forced and recovered a fumble while playing linebacker on Ricky May’s defense.
For a bit of irony, however, both Ricky and Bryson May did it while wearing the same number and both playing fullback. Bryson May sported the 34 jersey throughout his junior high career and also wore that number as a sophomore. This year he switched to the 21 both Ricky May and Bryson’s older brother Brock wore. Actually it’s a family affair as Randy May and, at some points, Damon May also wore.
Bryson May said the number change wasn’t for a specific reason, he just wanted to make the switch. Bryson May also wore that number in little league.
Gary Simpson wore number 46 when he picked up a fumble and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown – still the longest scoop and score in school history – but that number wasn’t available to Drawbaugh or Matthews.
That was because both make their home on the line. Drawbaugh, a guard in a number 75 uniform, was one of four senior starters for an offensive line that led the way to 356 rushing yards and an incredible 34:58 in time of possession – Drawbaugh and the offense ran 75 offensive plays – against the Lumberjacks.
Heck, before a couple of years ago, no Bearcat jersey was available to Drawbaugh. He was playing in Greenbrier. During the adoption process the Simpsons visited Drawbaugh and Drawbaugh visited here.
While he was here Drawbaugh was introduced to several football players, after all Mathews was a junior high player. Among those were Taylor Hyatt, Chad Simpson and some others.
"They tried to tell him what football was like here," said Gary Simpson. "He kind of knew but we warned him they may be small but some of these kids will flat out hit you. About the first time they had hitting drills he said ‘you weren’t kidding.’"
Drawbaugh’s title comes with one aspect his father, nor Ricky May had.
"I was a junior when we won it," said Gary Simpson. "Michael is a senior and what everybody remembers is who the seniors are."
While Simpson wasn’t able to coach his sons, he did find a way to help out as a member of the team’s helmet crew that set up the inflatable helmet from which Drawbaugh, Mathews and the rest of the Bearcats emerged to enter the victory line each week.