Time for the Mount Rushmore of Chattanooga area high school football coaches. Like the others, this one was also very tough because of the really fantastic coaches the Tennessee Valley has been blessed with for the past 45 years or so. In 1975 when I came to Chattanooga, I couldn't believe the number of highly successful football programs there were. In the honorable mention category for this list are Tom Weathers, Ken Colquette, Pete Potter, his son Ralph, Robert Akins , Hal Lamb and Wayne Turner among others. Here's the list.
E.B. "Red" Etter - Central, Baylor
Coach Etter was nearing the end of his fabulous career when I came to town in 1975 but he was still playing for championships until he retired in 1983. He posted 324 career wins, just 102 losses and 14 ties in his 41 year tenure as head coach at Central and Baylor.
As head coach of the Purple Pounders, Etter won seven state championships with an overall mark of 214-61-12. While at Baylor, he was 110-41 with one state title and even a national championship in 1973 when his team was a perfect 13-0. Etter was a true student of the game and perhaps the most analytical coach I ever met. He was the color analyst for me when we broadcast the 1978 AAA State Championship game between Gallatin and Red Bank. He is a member of five different halls of fame and is considered to be the best ever in the Chattanooga area.
Bill Chappell - Dalton
For 33 years Coach Bill Chappell dominated north Georgia high school football at Dalton high. Chappell put together an outstanding record of 317-74-9 with the Catamounts, winning one state title in 1967 and finishing state runnersup three different times. He was named the region Coach of the year 18 times and his teams made the state playoffs an amazing 27 times. in his thirty-three career at Dalton, Chappells' teams had winning seasons 33 times. Coach Chappell is ranked third on the all-time list of the winningest coaches in Georgia prep history. Chappell is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame.
Benny Monroe - McMinn County, Cleveland, Ooltewah.
Benny Monroe's teams put together a winning streak of 54 straight victories in the mid 1990s as his Blue Raider teams won three state titles in a row in 1993, 94 and 95. He spent a few years coaching at the collegiate level as an assistant coach at MTSU under Boots Donnelly. Monroe averaged 10 wins per year as head coach at Ooltewah in his tenure there. His teams advanced to the state semi-finals in 2006 and again in 2008. His 2009 team ended the regular season 9-1 and was ranked number one in the state before being upset by McMinn County in the 2009 season finale. Monroe's overall coaching record was 259-65.
Vic Grider - South Pittsburg
Coach Grider has coached at his alma mater for 23 years. In that time, his Pirate teams have won 233 games and lost only 54. Grider has coached at South Pittsburg for 23 years and is the son of another legendary South Pittsburg coach, Don Grider. Between the two men, is a combined record of 525=142. That easily makes them the winningest father-son coaching duo in Tennessee prep football history. Vic Grider has also won three TSSAA state titles in his tenure with five state finals appearances. He has also coached a grand total of 16 Mr. Football finalists.
As I mentioned this was very, very hard to narrow it down to four, when there are so many outstanding coaches. I came really close to having a tie between Vic Grider, Ken Colquette and Robert Akins. Nevertheless, there they are and on Friday, I'll choose the Mount Rushmore of prep basketball players.
Stay home and remember to wash your hands.
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Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com