After enduring a week in which we lost Butch Brooks and Dan Pitts, two of Georgia’s most highly-regarded coaches, I got the itch to examine some of the greatest coaches of all-time. I put together a chart (shown in a separate space) but also wanted to give some insight on these coaches. The discussion today revolves around those men who are in an elite class – 300 game winners – of which we have only 13 in history. These are given in the order of most wins and you can consult the chart to see more specifics.
It should be noted that some of the very best are not included here simply because I limited the list to 300 game winners. That would include Wright Bazemore, Jeff Herron, Hal Lamb and Rich McWhorter to name a few.
Larry Campbell – I was lucky enough to work for Georgia’s all-time win leader for eight years. He won 33 region titles and 11 state titles in his 42 years as head coach at Lincoln County. He is the only 400 game winner in state history (Alan Chadwick should become the second this coming year) and is in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the National Sports Hall of Fame. No coach in state history has more seasons at a single school.
Alan Chadwick – In his 36 seasons as Marist’s head coach Chadwick has 19 region titles and three state titles to his credit. Additionally he has the third highest winning percentage behind Nick Hyder and Campbell.
Robert Davis – Most of his career was spent at Warner Robins where he captured 20 region titles and three state championships. Davis has another feather in his cap with a pair of national championships (those are on paper not on the field).
Dan Pitts – As head coach at Mary Person High from 1959-1997 Pitts won 15 region titles and a state title. Many believe that he won more games with less overall talent than anyone else. He could take his and beat yours or take yours and beat his.
Dwight Hochstetler – Spent his 37 seasons at Bowdon and Greenville where his teams were region champs 21 times and state champs three times. When I was at Lincoln County we played his Greenville squad in 1984 for the state title and they ground us into the dust with a 19-7 win.
Barney Hester – Perhaps the least known on this list, Hester did most of his damage in the GISA (Georgia Independent School Association). At Tattnall Square in Macon he won 19 region titles and 11 state titles before moving to Howard High in Macon for his final five years in a head coaching career that spanned 43 seasons.
Ronnie Jones – Another relatively unknown coach who spent most of his career in the GISA, Jones won 13 region titles and four state titles combined at the Westfield School (Perry) and the Brookwood School (Thomasville).
Luther Welsh – One of Georgia’s most highly respected coaches, Welsh coached at six different schools but found most of his success at Thomson where he won three state championships. Overall he also won 14 region titles in a career that spanned 46 years including three in South Carolina.
Bill Chappell – Between 1964 and 1996 Chappell led the program at Dalton to 16 region championships and a state title. Between 1976 and 1996 the Catamounts posted double digit win totals 14 times in a remarkable run of consistent excellence.
T. McFerrin – McFerrin coached at eight different school but was always successful. He won state titles at Elbert County and Jefferson and finished with 12 region titles to his credit. He had two losing records over the course of 34 seasons as a head coach in Georgia.
Wayman Creel – Most of his career was spent at Northside (Atlanta) and Lakeside (Atlanta) where his teams won three state titles and 10 region championships. He spent the final seven seasons of his 39 year head coaching career at Westminster.
Nick Hyder – Perhaps Georgia’s most highly regarded coach of all time. Hyder spent six seasons at West Rome and the other twenty two at Valdosta before his untimely death in 1996. Over that span his teams captured sixteen region titles, seven state titles and three national championships playing in Georgia’s highest classification. Hyder is the all-time leader in winning percentage at .858.
Rodney Walker – Walker was well traveled coaching at nine different schools over a head coaching career that spanned 39 years. He won a state title at West Rome in 1984 and ten region titles overall. He finished his career with a six year stint at his alma mater Mary Persons High where he had played for Dan Pitts.