Georgia’s Most Winningest Programs

The Georgia High School Football landscape includes a collection of powerhouse programs that have racked up more victories in their histories than the rest of the state. At the top of this list is the Valdosta Wildcats and it is not even close. The Valdosta program has won 167 more games than the second winningest program in the state and also has twice as many state championships as the program with the second most state championships. Here is a look at the 10 programs with the most wins in their histories and a deeper look into their impressive winning traditions.

1. Valdosta High School (932-241-34; 24 state titles): As previously mentioned, Valdosta is head and shoulders above any other program in the state when it comes to its number of wins and state titles. The Wildcats have won 36 region titles since 1952 and a national-best 24 state titles since 1951. The program’s most recent state crown came in 2016 under head coach Alan Rodemaker, who was controversially relieved of his duties after Valdosta’s 10-3 finish this past season. Now, former Colquitt County state championship head coach Rush Propst is stepping in to lead the program. Valdosta has been home to some of the state’s top coaches and also dozens of all-state players over the years. During Valdosta’s early state championship runs, head coach Wright Bazemore led the Wildcats to 15 state titles, 16 region championships and 268 victories in his 28 seasons at the school (1941-1971). Nick Hyder took over the program in 1972 and would add 249 more wins, seven state titles and 13 region titles in his 22 seasons at the school. Mike O’Brien’s 1998 team produced the school’s 23rd all-time championship. The program experienced a 17-season championship drought until Rodemaker’s 2016 Wildcats clinched the state crown for championship No. 24. Buford, which is 19th on the all-time wins list is the school with the next most all-time championships with 12.

2. LaGrange High School (765-374-40; 6 state titles): The LaGrange Grangers have been playing football for 116 seasons and experienced the bulk of their success in the early 2000’s where the program won three state titles (2001, 2003-04) in a four-year span. As of late, however, LaGrange has struggled and this upcoming season they will be introducing a brand new head coach in Matt Napier. The former Callaway offensive coordinator replaces Chuck Gibbs, who saw the team go 2-8 in his two years at the helm. While a 2-8 record is sub-par, the program produced a winless season in 2017 prior to Gibbs taking over. Napier’s Callaway offense averaged 40 points per game in 2019 and that type of production is something that LaGrange can only dream of after its output the past three seasons. In 2017, the team averaged just 4.4 points per game and they have only averaged 7.0 ppg over the last three seasons combined. Defensively, the team has been competitive so the return to prominence may be sooner than later for the Grangers moving forward.

3. Gainesville High School (747-341-25, 1 state title): Just like all the programs on this list, Gainesville has a long history and 2020 marks 107th season in the school’s history. The Red Elephants play their games at the picturesque Bobby Gruhn Field that is named after the program’s winningest all-time coach. Gruhn spent 30 seasons leading the Gainesville program (1963-1992) and won 254 games over that span. Head coach Bruce Miller has the next most victories with 157 coming over a 16-year span (2002-17) and also became the first head coach in program history to win a state crown when his Deshaun Watson-led squad caught fire in the playoffs and made a run to the 2012 Class AAAAA state title. Gainesville has failed to get past the first round in four straight seasons and now the Red Elephants will be competing in Class AAAAAA after jumping up a classification.

4. Thomasville High School (726-350-46; 5 state titles): Thomasville has won five state titles in its history, but its last state crown came all the way back in 1988. The Bulldogs have remained consistent in the three-plus decades since, but the 2019 season was particularly successful as Thomasville achieved its first semifinal appearance since 1993 under then-head coach Georgia Bobo. Coach Bobo is the father of former Georgia quarterback and offensive coordinator and current Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo—who was an all-state passer for the Bulldogs and an AJC Super 11 selection in 1992. Thomasville’s other notable alumni includes former Atlanta Falcons running back William Andrews, who was the state’s Back of the Year in 1974.

5. Marist (724-331-38; 2 state titles): The Marist War Eagles are the state’s all-time winningest private school and this will be the historic powerhouse’s 108th all-time season. Both of the school’s state championships came under head coach Alan Chadwick (1989 and 2003), who has served as the program’s head coach since the 1985 season. This upcoming season marks the 36th year that Chadwick is at the helm and he has already taken Marist to 18 region titles and an incredible 386-73-0 record over that span—giving him an 84.1 winning percentage. Marist has made three semifinals, three quarterfinals and one finals appearance over the last eight seasons and 87 wins over the same span. The War Eagles are remaining in Class AAAA following the state’s reclassification and will be a heavy favorite to win the state crown when the 2020 season kicks off.

6. Woodward Academy (714-416-42; 2 state titles): Woodward Academy is set to play its 119th all-time season this fall, making it the oldest program on this list. The War Eagles are one of the just six Georgia programs to surpass 700 all-time wins and they have an all-time 62.71 winning percentage. The War Eagles have won five region titles in the last six years heading into 2020 and have finished two perfect regular seasons in the same span. As for state titles, Woodward Academy’s last one came in 1980 and the school has not returned to the finals since, although the program has reached the state semis on three occasions since the 2014 season. Last year’s team defeated Class AAAA state champion Blessed Trinity 13-10 in the regular season, but dropped the rematch 46-21 in the semifinals to close out a 13-1 season.

7. Carrollton High School (685-243-30; 7 state titles): Carrollton has managed to crack the top 10 winningest programs with the fewest all-time seasons—coming in at 92 prior to 2020. The Trojans have the second most state titles out of all the teams on his list at seven, but have not captured a state championship since the 1998 season. Last year’s Trojans closed out the program’s first undefeated regular season since 2010, but ultimately fell short in the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals. It was also the program’s first region title since 2011. Now, Carrollton has been classed up to AAAAAA and will be in a region with Dalton, Rome, South Paulding, Paulding county, East Paulding, Alexander and Douglas County.

8. Cartersville High School (682-325-30, 4 state titles): Cartersville has won four state titles in its 107-year history and two of those state titles came in 2015 and 2016 under National Player of the Year and the state’s all-time passing leader Trevor Lawrence. This past season marked the first year for head coach Conor Foster and Cartersville kept its winning tradition going with a 12-1 finish after its 31-28 loss to Woodward Academy in the quarterfinals.

9. Griffin High School (655-354-34; 3 state titles): Griffin enters its 110th all-time season just one win ahead of Thomson High School. The Bears have won three state championships in their history and racked up 156 of their wins under Lloyd Bohannon when he led the team from 1978-1995. Under Bohannon, Griffin had 28 players earn All-State recognition. Among the long list of former Griffin Bears to go on to play in the NFL are Falcons legend Jessie Tuggle and wide receiver Willie Gault. Coincidentally, Gault hauled in Griffin’s only touchdown in the 1978 state title game when the Bears and Valdosta earned a share of the championship with a 7-7 finish.

10. Thomson High School (654-325-37; 5 state titles): The Bulldogs have won five state titles in the program’s 101-season history and made a run to the 2016 state finals where they fell to Cartersville 58-7. Over the course of Thomson’s long and storied history, there have been six players go on to make it to the NFL. This list includes Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Guy—the first-ever punter to be drafted in the first round. Guy played safety in addition to handling kicking duties at Thomson and was part of the Bulldogs’ back-to-back championships in 1967-68.

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