In 1899, two young athletes from Alabama played a leading role in perhaps the greatest achievement in the history of college football. At a time when football was strictly a ground game, Henry “Diddy” Seibels of Montgomery and Ringland “Rex” Kilpatrick from Bridgeport were the leading halfbacks for the Sewanee Tigers as the team went undefeated and untied in a long 12-game season, including a string of 5 games in 6 days. Not only did they beat every team they played – including Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn – but they held every other team scoreless until their final two games. Unrivaled: Sewanee 1899 tells the story of this team that coaches agree will never be equaled, and of the very different game of football played a century ago.
Produced by filmmakers Norman Jetmundsen and David Crews, Unrivaled includes interviews with football coaches across the south, descendants of many of the players, and music by Birmingham’s own Bobby Horton who has scored more than a dozen of Ken Burns’ films.
"I was bowled over by the quality of this film and by the power of this story," says Mike McKenzie, Programming and Public Information Director for Alabama Public Television. "I was familiar with the basic story of the 1899 Sewanee team, but the filmmakers did an amazing job of bringing the facts to life. These young athletes were playing before there were such things as helmets or padding of any meaningful kind. The same 11 men were on the field the entire time, playing both offence and defense, unless they were absolutely too hurt to go on. One historian recounts an occasion when football players returning from a game were mistaken for victims of a train wreck."
Unrivaled will be available online and on the APT and PBS Video apps following the broadcast.
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