Greatest High School Football Coaches of All Time
All of the greatest coaches, regardless of sport, have certain traits in common. One of those traits is longevity, and it might be the most important one.
Nowhere is longevity more valued than in high school football, where the greatest coaches see enough kids pass through their door that they end up coaching fathers, then their sons, and in some cases, even their grandsons.
Along the way, they win a lot of football games. These coaches have the most wins in high school football history.
47. Bob Lutz
W-L record: 381-93-5
Win percentage: .800
Years: 42 seasons (1969-2005, 2007-11)
Schools: Ironton High School (Ironton, Ohio), Saint Joseph Central High School (Ironton, Ohio)
State titles: 2 (1979, 1989)
Note: The source for wins is the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), Football Friday Night and MaxPreps. All win totals are current through the beginning of the 2022 season.
Bottom Line: Bob Lutz
Bob Lutz coached three seasons at Saint Joseph Central High School in Ironton, Ohio, before moving to Ironton High, where he spent the majority of his career.
Lutz won two state championships in 42 seasons. They came a decade apart in 1979 and 1989. What's more amazing is Lutz finished as a state runner-up six times and led his teams to the state semifinals 10 more times.
Lutz was inducted into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003.
In Their Own Words: Bob Lutz
"I always told them to do everything right. If you do everything right, things will fall into place, and good things will happen." —Bob Lutz, Southeast Ohio Magazine
46. Dwight Lundeen
W-L record: 382-164-3
Win percentage: .695
Years: 52 seasons (1970-present)
Schools: Becker High School (Becker, Minnesota)
State titles: 3 (2005, 2014, 2015)
Bottom Line: Dwight Lundeen
Dwight Lundeen is in his 52nd season as the head coach at Becker High School — the only head coach in school history.
Lundeen's career has been a study in determination. Lundeen and Becker didn't make it to the state championship for the first time until his 21st season and finished as state runner-up four times before winning the first of three state titles in 2005, including back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.
In Their Own Words: Dwight Lundeen
"Dwight had a famous quote he would use throughout the season: ‘A good man that is not great is 100 times better than a great man who is not good.’ To the guys this just meant that your success wasn’t defined with your on-the-field actions, it was what was happening off the field. The saying was just a reminder to be hardworking, selfless, and honest." —Becker linebacker Carter Callahan
45. Willie Varner
W-L record: 383-132-10
Win percentage: .739
Years: 43 seasons (1954-96)
Schools: Woodruff High School (Woodruff, South Carolina)
State titles: 10 (1956, 1957, 1965, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1984)
Bottom Line: Willie Varner
Willie Varner was one of the most well-respected high school football coaches of all time — not just in South Carolina at Woodruff High, but throughout the nation.
Woodruff won 10 state championships at Woodruff, winning at least one in four different decades, with the first in 1956 and the last in 1984. Woodruff added six state championships in other sports while at Woodruff — four in girls basketball and two in baseball.
Varner received the Order of the Palmetto in 1996, which is the highest honor a South Carolina citizen can receive. He died in 2009, at 82 years old.
In Their Own Words: Willie Varner
"The most gratifying thing is the effect you have on people. The kids that I see now, the parents that I see now who come up and speak to you. I don’t go anywhere without somebody recognizing me from the coaching days and wanting to talk. It’s that kind of thing that sticks in your mind. I wouldn’t swap professions with anybody, and I’ve said that repeatedly. I never had any desire to be a principal, and I never had any real burning desire to go anywhere else. I got a chance to do what I wanted to do, and I enjoyed every minute of it." —Willie Varner, The Woodruff Times
44. Lewis Cook
W-L record: 383-89-0
Win percentage: .811
Years: 43 seasons (1977-91, 1995-present)
Schools: Rayne High School (Rayne, Louisiana), Crowley High School (Crowley, Louisiana), Notre Dame High School (Crowley, Louisiana)
State titles: 4 (2000, 2009, 2015, 2018)
Bottom Line: Lewis Cook
Lewis Cook has won all four of his state championships as a head coach at Notre Dame High School, but like many coaches on this list, his career has been a study in resilience. Cook became a head coach for the first time in 1977 but didn't win his first state championship until 2000.
In 2019, Cook was nominated by the New Orleans Saints as one of 32 coaches nationwide for the NFL High School Coach of the Year award.
In Their Own Words: Lewis Cook
"Probably in the sixth or seventh grade, we had to do a report of what we wanted to be and I talked about wanting to be a coach." —Lewis Cook
43. Gary Swenson
W-L record: 383-118-0
Win percentage: .764
Years: 46 seasons (1976-present)
Schools: Manning High School (Manning, Iowa), West Marshall High School (State Center, Iowa), Spencer High School (Spencer, Iowa), Valley High School (West Des Moines, Iowa)
State titles: 6
Bottom Line: Gary Swenson
Gary Swenson has spent his entire career in Iowa and won five of his six career titles at Valley High in West Des Moines. He's one of only three coaches in Iowa history to win state titles at two different schools.
Swenson has been named Class 4A Coach of the Year four times at Valley, most recently in 2020.
In Their Own Words: Gary Swenson
"It's always nice to be recognized knowing that you accept recognition on behalf of the people you work with. I feel very fortunate at Valley High School to coach talented high school football players every year. The football coaching staff at Valley is a dedicated group of men who can teach the game. It's my privilege to coach alongside them." —Gary Swenson
42. Herb Brogan
W-L record: 384-88-0
Win percentage: .817
Years: 42 seasons (1980-present)
Schools: Lumen Christi Catholic (Jackson, Michigan)
State titles: 9 (1996, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Bottom Line: Herb Brogan
If you want to begin to understand Jackson, Michigan, it wouldn't be a bad start to find out what makes Lumen Christi head coach Herb Brogan tick.
Brogan has been Lumen Christi's head coach since 1980 — the only head coaching job of his career — and has won nine state championships and carved out a reputation as a great representative of his school and his community.
Brogan's community honored him in 2016, when he was named the Al Cotton Award recipient by The Jackson Citizen Patriot as someone "who has made a significant contribution to the Jackson sporting community by making it a 'better place to play.'"
In Their Own Words: Herb Brogan
"When Jackson Lumen Christi won its ninth state high school football championship in November 2016, its head coach did not accept the trophy. Instead, he sent senior offensive lineman and captain Zach Erwin, who retrieved the award before galloping back to a sea of white, green and gold jerseys — players, fans and coaches eagerly awaiting — holding it high and jumping for joy." —Tony Garcia, MLive.com
41. Frank Lenti
W-L record: 385-79-0
Win percentage: .940
Years: 34 seasons (1984-2017)
Schools: Mount Carmel High School (Chicago, Illinois)
State titles: 11 (1981, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2013, 2014)
Bottom Line: Frank Lenti
Frank Lenti led his alma mater, Mount Carmel High in Chicago, to 11 state championships and another five state runner-up finishes in 34 years as the school's head coach.
Lenti coached as many NFL players in his time at Mount Carmel as any high school football coach in the nation ever has, including quarterback Donovan McNabb, the No. 2 overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft, and defensive end Simeon Rice, the No. 3 overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft.
Lenti was forced out by school administrators and replaced with one of his former players, 2013 Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch, following the 2017 season.
In Their Own Words: Frank Lenti
"I told hundreds if not thousands of Mount Carmel students to never quit, no matter what kind of adversity you face." —Frank Lenti, Chicago Tribune
40. Ken LaChapelle
W-L record: 385-119-6
Win percentage: .754
Years: 46 seasons (1976-present)
Schools: Northbridge High School (Whitinsville, Massachusetts)
State titles: 10 (1987, 1989, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2015)
Bottom Line: Ken LaChapelle
Ken LaChapelle has spent his entire career as a head coach at Northbridge High and became the winningest coach in Massachusetts history in 2014. Almost a decade later, he's only padding his lead. In 2021, he became just the second coach in state history to coach 500 games.
LaChapelle has won 10 state championships at Northbridge, including at least one title in every decade from the 1980s through the 2010s.
In Their Own Words: Ken LaChapelle
"When I think back with all the years, if there is any pressure, it comes internally from me and no one else. I don't think anyone who has ever coached is thinking they are going to last 40 years at one school as a head coach. I mean who starts that way?" —Ken LaChapelle, ESPN Boston
39. Gordon Wood
W-L record: 396-91-15
Win percentage: .863
Years: 46 seasons (1940-85)
Schools: Rule High School (Rule, Texas), Roscoe High School (Roscoe, Texas), Seminole High School (Seminole, Texas), Winters High School (Winters, Texas), Stamford High School (Stamford, Texas), Victoria High School (Victoria, Texas), Brownwood High School (Brownwood, Texas)
State titles: 9 (1955, 1956, 1960, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1978, 1981)
Bottom Line: Gordon Wood
For the first two decades of his career, Gordon Wood was a coaching nomad who had stints as the head coach at six different schools before he settled at Brownwood High, where he won seven of his nine state championships.
Wood is most famous for the respect he held in the greater realm of coaching. Most specifically, Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, former Baylor coach Grant Teaff and none other than legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant singled him out over his career.
Wood died in 2003, at 89 years old.
In Their Own Words: Gordon Wood
"You’ve got people who break Babe Ruth’s record every time you turn around, but that doesn’t make them better than him. That might sound silly, but that’s the way I feel about it." —Gordon Wood, Associated Press
38. Bob Ladouceur
W-L record: 399-24-3
Win percentage: .940
Years: 34 seasons (1979-2012)
Schools: De La Salle High School (Concord, California)
National titles: 11 (1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Bottom Line: Bob Ladouceur
We had to modify former De La Salle High head coach Bob Ladouceur's biography just a little bit. Since there isn't an accurate way to relate state championships to his career because California didn't have a legitimate state title for most of the years he was coach, we had to go with national titles, and he has won 11.
Ladouceur, who was portrayed by Jim Caviezel in the 2014 film "When the Game Stands Tall," was the architect of the greatest winning streak in high school football history. De La Salle won 151 consecutive games from 1992 to 2004.
In Their Own Words: Bob Ladouceur
"Society has its share of pessimists and skeptics. Many believe that success cannot be achieved without dishonesty. It's hard for them to see our success and not assume that it was achieved by cheating, stealing, or just blind luck. But I don't care what society believes. I know the truth, and I sleep every night with a clear conscience." —Bob Ladouceur, Spartanhood.com
36. Ricky Black (Tied)
W-L record: 400-76-0
Win percentage: .832
Years: 46 seasons(1975-2020)
Schools: Kosciusko High School (Kosciusko, Mississippi), Tupelo High School (Tupelo, Mississippi), Jackson Prep (Jackson, Mississippi)
State titles: 13 (1977, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2006-08, 2012-18)
Bottom Line: Ricky Black
Ricky Black became a coaching legend in his home state, winning 13 state championships at Jackson Prep, including a state-record seven consecutive titles from 2012 to 2018.
Black was named the National High School Football Coach of the Year in 2018 and inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. He also spent six seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Mississippi State.
Black resigned as head coach at Jackson Prep in February 2021.
In Their Own Words: Ricky Black
"I know a lot of my success has been due to my faith, listening to what God is telling me and being led to do it. That’s been the foundation of this whole thing." —Ricky Black, Clarion Ledger
36. Reno Saccoccia (Tied)
W-L record: 400-80-0
Win percentage: .833
Years: 39 seasons (1983-present)
Schools: Steubenville High School (Steubenville, Ohio)
State titles: 4 (1984, 2005, 2006, 2017)
Bottom Line: Reno Saccoccia
Steubenville High School head coach Reno Saccoccia made history in 2022 when he became the career wins leader for Ohio high school football coaches — no small task when you consider some of the teams and coaches that have come out of the state.
Saccoccia has won four state titles at Steubenville, including winning a state title in his second season in 1984. He wouldn't win another title for 21 years, until going back-to-back in 2005 and 2006.
35. Ken Leonard
W-L record: 384-79-0
Win percentage: .829
Years: 41 seasons (1980-present)
Schools: Gridley High School (Gridley, Illinois), Sacred Heart High School (Springfield, Illinois)
State titles: 5 (2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2014)
Bottom Line: Ken Leonard
Ken Leonard's story is one of perseverance. He became a head coach at tiny Gridley High School in 1980 and made the move to a bigger school at Springfield Sacred Heart in 1984 but didn't win his first state championships until 2005.
Leonard has made up for lost time since then. He's won five state championships in the last 15 years. His son, Derek, also won a state championship as the head coach at Rochester High.
In Their Own Words: Ken Leonard
"Our goal is to be champions." —Ken Leonard, FNF Coaches
34. Bob Paroli
W-L record: 403-206-13
Win percentage: .658
Years: 55 seasons (1958-2012)
Schools: Douglas Byrd High School (Fayetteville, North Carolina), Seventy-First High School (Fayetteville, North Carolina)
State titles: 1 (2008)
Bottom Line: Bob Paroli
Bob Paroli's coaching touched seven decades, and it all went down in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Paroli coached first at Douglas Byrd High and then at Seventy-First High, where he won his only state title in 2008.
Paroli's greatest player was four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, who was a quarterback for Paroli at Douglas Byrd in the late 1980s.
33. Pete Adkins
W-L record: 405-60-4
Win percentage: .868
Years: 43 seasons (1951-94)
Schools: Centralia High School (Centralia, Missouri), Jefferson City High School (Jefferson City, Missouri)
State titles: 9 (1976, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994)
Bottom Line: Pete Adkins
Pete Adkins retired after winning his ninth state title at Jefferson City High in 1994.
Even with all of those accomplishments, his fame extends far beyond the football field. He was the star of Grammy-winning musician Melissa Etheridge's music video for the song "Breathe" in 2008.
Adkins, who once guided his team to a 71-game win streak, was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
In Their Own Words: Pete Adkins
"The bottom line is you got to win." —Pete Adkins, KRCG 13
32. Jim Render
W-L record: 406-141-6
Win percentage: .739
Years: 49 seasons (1970-2018)
Schools: Carrollton High School (Carrollton, Ohio), Uniontown High School (Uniontown, Pennsylvania), Upper St. Clair High School (Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania)
State titles: 2 (1989, 2006)
Bottom Line: Jim Render
Jim Render became part of an exclusive community of high school football coaches in 2018 when he won his 400th career game — just the 29th coach in national history to do so.
Render won a pair of state championships at Upper St. Clair in 1989 and 2006, and the first title didn't come until his 20th season.
Render's most famous player? Former Penn State star and two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Sean Lee of the Dallas Cowboys.
In Their Own Words: Jim Render
"Somebody asked me how I wanted to be remembered. Just the fact that I have a lot of former players keep in touch with me is reward enough." —Jim Render, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
31. Dudley Hilton
W-L record: 408-129-0
Win percentage: .759
Years: 44 seasons (1974-2010, 2014-present)
Schools: Breathitt County High School (Jackson, Kentucky), Bourbon County High School (Paris, Kentucky), Taylor County High School (Campbellsville, Kentucky), Bell County High School (Pineville, Kentucky)
State titles: 3 (1991, 1997, 2008)
Bottom Line: Dudley Hilton
Dudley Hilton has won three state titles in his career, including two at his current school, Bell County High, but he will probably always be best known as the man behind one of the greatest Cinderella stories in Kentucky High School football history.
In 1997, as the coach of Bourbon County High, Hilton won a Class 2A state title at a school that had never previously won a playoff game in school history, hadn't had a winning season since 1987, and had been picked to finish last in its own district.
Bourbon County capped the magical year with one of the more stunning finishes in state championship game history. Leading Owensboro Catholic 25-22 with 3:58 left in the fourth quarter, Bourbon County's Jeremy Wigglesworth scooped up a blocked field goal and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown to seal the win. Can you imagine?
30. Alan Chadwick
W-L record: 409-75-0
Win percentage: .845
Years: 37 seasons (1985-present)
Schools: Marist School (Brookhaven, Georgia)
State titles: 3 (1989, 2003, 2020)
Bottom Line: Alan Chadwick
Marist School head coach Alan Chadwick had a standout career as a quarterback at East Tennessee State, where he was a two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, and a cup of coffee as a backup quarterback with the Chicago Bears.
Chadwick has been the coach at Marist since 1985 and won three state championships, with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay leading Marist to the second title in 2003, when he was named Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year over future NFL All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Chadwick's third title at Marist came in 2020, when he led the school to a 13-0 record.
In Their Own Words: Alan Chadwick
"Each player must strive with all his skill and all his effort on each and every play. 'If one has not given everything, one has given nothing.' I think this quote defines the game. Each player must make innumerable sacrifices and give all he has to the worthy cause and common goal. That is why football is the ultimate team game." —Alan Chadwick, Reporter Newspapers
29. Dave Gutshall
W-L record: 411-140-0
Win percentage: .745
Years: 42 (1978-present)
Schools: Madison-Mayodan High School (Mayodan, North Carolina), Kinston High School (Kinston, North Carolina), Cummings High School (Cummings, North Carolina), Dorman High School (Roebuck, South Carolina)
State titles: 5 (1988, 1989, 1992, 2000, 2009)
Bottom Line: Dave Gutshall
Dave Gutshall's longevity is tied directly to his ability to adapt.
One year, his teams could be running the wishbone, and the next year, they're in the spread offense. It all depends on what he sees as his player's strengths.
Gutshall won his first three state titles in North Carolina and his last two at Dorman High in South Carolina.
In Their Own Words: Dave Gutshall
"I think kids today are super. I don’t know that people give kids enough credit. I don’t think the kids I work with today are any different than kids I’ve coached throughout my career. When they say kids have changed, I think music has changed. Now everyone has a cell phone, including me. I think those are changes, but kids haven’t changed." —Dave Gutshall, Go Upstate
28. Jack Holley
W-L record: 412-96-9
Win percentage: .806
Years: 48 seasons (1964-2011)
Schools: Tabor City High School (Tabor City, North Carolina), West Columbus High School (Cerro Gordo, North Carolina), South Columbus High School (Tabor City, North Carolina), Hallsboro High School (Hallsboro, North Carolina), Wallace-Rose High School (Teachey, North Carolina), Harrells Christian Academy (Harrells, North Carolina)
State titles: 1 (2008)
Bottom Line: Jack Holley
Jack Holley was North Carolina through and through.
He starred alongside future NFL quarterback Roman Gabriel at New Hanover High, then at Guilford College in Greensboro before coaching in the state for 48 seasons.
Holley lost in the state championship game five times before finally winning a title at Harrells Christian Academy in 2008.
In Their Own Words: Jack Holley
"My teams started lifting weights in 1964, which makes you stronger and faster. My teams lifted weights for almost ten years before anyone else did. They were faster and stronger than any other team. They could run and would hit you hard. They were as tough as the highway." —Jack Holley, Sampson Independent
27. David Gentry
W-L record: 414-191-3
Win percentage: .683
Years: 49 seasons (1971-present)
Schools: Chatham High School (Chatham, Virginia), Edneyville High School (Hendersonville, N.C.), Murphy High School (Murphy, North Carolina)
State titles: 8 (1986, 1987, 1991, 1996, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2018)
Bottom Line: David Gentry
David Gentry was inducted into the National High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2020, and his career has been a case study in consistency.
Gentry's resilience in the middle part of his career is truly something to behold. Murphy won three state titles in his first decade as coach, then one more in 1996, then didn't win another state title until 2011.
They've won three more since then.
In Their Own Words: David Gentry
"I never started out and said I want to be the winningest coach in North Carolina, I want to win 400 games, I want to be one of the winningest coaches in the United States. I never thought that. The only thing I started out to be —I want to win the next game." —David Gentry, Citizen Times
26. Curt Bladt
W-L record: 415-63-0
Win percentage: .868
Years: 41 seasons (1978-2018)
Schools: Harlan Community High School (Harlan, Iowa)
State titles: 11 (1982, 1983, 1984, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009)
Bottom Line: Curt Bladt
Curt Bladt was an assistant coach at Harlan Community High for 10 years before he became the head coach, where he stayed for 41 seasons and set an Iowa record with 11 state titles.
Bladt's teams won three consecutive state titles twice during his tenure — from 1982 to 1984 and from 2003 to 2005.
Bladt, who battled Guillain-Barre syndrome, retired after the 2018 season.
In Their Own Words: Curt Bladt
"I've got grandchildren running around that need a little more attention. I might even get to spend a little more time with my wife. I don't know if she'd like that or not." —Curt Bladt
25. Bill Hurst
W-L record: 418-136-0
Win percentage: .754
Years: 43 seasons (1975-94, 1997-present)
Schools: Centreville Academy (Centreville, Mississippi)
MAIS titles: 9 (1976, 1979, 1989, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2007, 2008, 2014)
Bottom Line: Bill Hurst
Centreville Academy doesn't play for traditional state titles. They play in the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools, which includes schools from Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Bill Hurst has been Centreville's coach since 1975 and led the school to nine MAIS titles.
In 2013, he broke the Mississippi state record for coaching victories.
In Their Own Words: Bill Hurst
"I’ve always wanted our kids to be successful in life so I’m hard on them while they are playing football for me. Life can be hard sometimes. Things aren’t always going to go your way. When you make a mistake, you are going to pay the price for it." —Bill Hurst, Mississippi Scoreboard
24. Randy Allen
W-L record: 424-92-6
Win percentage: .812
Years: 41 seasons (1981-present)
Schools: Ballinger High School (Ballinger, Texas), Brownwood High School (Brownwood, Texas), Abilene Cooper High School (Abilene, Texas), Highland Park High School (Dallas, Texas)
State titles: 4 (2005, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Bottom Line: Randy Allen
Randy Allen was a star running back at Abilene Cooper High in the late 1960s and played for Hayden Fry at SMU before starting his coaching career.
Allen coached high school football in Texas for 25 years before he won his first state title at Highland Park in 2005 led by future No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Matthew Stafford.
Allen has won three more titles since. He announced his retirement after the 2018 season, then decided to reverse course.
In Their Own Words: Randy Allen
"I am too involved in what is the next play. ... I can’t let my emotions get to far out ahead of me or show too much to the players. I read a quote by Coach [Tom] Landry. … It said some coaches treat winning and losing like life or death. He said, but I treat it, I’m consistent, I’m trying to be the same guy whether we win or lose." —Randy Allen, CBS DFW
23. G.A. Moore Jr.
W-L record: 426-92-9
Win percentage: .817
Years: 45 seasons (1962-70, 1972-2004, 2009-11)
Schools: Bryson High School (Bryson, Texas), Pilot Point High School (Pilot Point, Texas), Celina High School (Celina, Texas), Sherman High School (Sherman, Texas), Aubrey High School (Aubrey, Texas)
State titles: 8 (1974, 1980, 1981, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001)
Bottom Line: G.A. Moore Jr.
G.A. Moore Jr. is most well-known for his time at Celina High School, where he won a state title in 1974.
He returned after coaching at other schools to win five more state titles at Celina — most notably four consecutive from 1998 to 2001.
Moore retired as the Texas high school football career leader for wins but had his record broken by Calallen's Phil Danaher in 2016.
In Their Own Words: G.A. Moore Jr.
"What it comes down to, I guess, is I just don’t like to get beat." —G.A. Moore Jr., TexasMonthly
22. Al Fracassa
W-L record: 430-117-1
Win percentage: .786
Years: 51 seasons (1963-2013)
Schools: Royal Oak High School (Royal Oak, Michigan), Brother Rice High School (Bloomfield Township, Michigan)
State titles: 9 (1977, 1980, 1983, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013)
Bottom Line: Al Fracassa
Al Fracassa was a four-time Michigan Coach of the Year and named National Coach of the Year in 2002.
Fracassa, who played football at Michigan State, put 13 players into the NFL off his great Brother Rice High teams and retired at the age of 81 after winning a third consecutive state title in 2013.
In all, Fracassa coached Brother Rice to nine state titles.
In Their Own Words: Al Fracassa
"Biggie Munn [football coach] used to tell us in practice every day that the difference between good and great is just a little effort." —Al Fracassa, MLive
21. Dick Tighe
W-L record: 432-167-8
Win percentage: .712
Years: 63 seasons (1954-2016)
Schools: Fort Dodge High School (Fort Dodge, Iowa), St. Edmond High School (Fort Dodge, Iowa), Kuemper Catholic High School (Carroll, Iowa), Webster City High School (Webster City, Iowa), Iowa Falls High School (Iowa Falls, Iowa)
State titles: None
Bottom Line: Dick Tighe
You are not reading that wrong. Dick Tighe coached 63 seasons of high school football in Iowa and never won a state title.
Tighe, who coached at five different schools, had his longest stint at Webster City High, where he stayed for 31 seasons.
Tighe authored several popular books on offensive run plays and finally retired after the 2016 seasons, when he was 86 years old.
In Their Own Words: Dick Tighe
"We ran a tight ship [at St. Edmond] and a good program as far as discipline goes. We kept things clean and never asked for anything more than what we needed. We did things the right way." —Dick Tighe, The Daily Freeman-Journal
20. Jerry Pezzetti
W-L record: 435-177-1
Win percentage: .709
Years: 59 seasons (1961-present)
Schools: Murray High School (Murray, Iowa), Melcher-Dallas High School (Melcher, Iowa), Ankey High School (Ankeny, Iowa), Ankey Centennial High School (Ankeny, Iowa)
State titles: 2 (1997, 2012)
Bottom Line: Jerry Pezzetti
Jerry Pezzetti became the coach at Ankeny High in 1969 and hopped over to Ankeny Centennial when it opened in 2013.
Pezzetti and Ankeny won an emotional state title in 2012, the final year before the community opened its second high school.
Pezzetti's greatest player may have been linebacker Dennis Gibson, who played alongside Junior Seau on the San Diego Chargers in the early 1990s.
In Their Own Words: Jerry Pezzetti
"I didn’t win any of the games. It was the players who won them, but I’m proud of being able to coach all those young men over the years who had the desire to have a football team. The players and the assistant coaches should get most of the credit." —Jerry Pezzetti, Des Moines Register
19. Bud Wright
W-L record: 436-207-2
Win percentage: .675
Years: 56 seasons (1965-present)
Schools: Mount Ayr High School (Mount Ayr, Iowa), Sheridan High School (Sheridan, Indiana)
State titles: 9 (1980, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2007)
Bottom Line: Bud Wright
Bud Wright is the winningest high school football coach in Indiana history and has led Sheridan High to nine state titles.
Wright's greatest decade was the 1980s, when he won four state titles with arguably his best player, tailback Brett Law.
Wright and Sheridan added three more state titles in a row from 2005 to 2007.
In Their Own Words: Bud Wright
"The biggest thing I’ve seen is the coaches are more dedicated now. "I thought when I first went out there I could outcoach people." —Bud Wright, FNF Coaches
18. John Herrington
W-L record: 443-112-1
Win percentage: .798
Years: 49 seasons (1970-2018)
Schools: Harrison High School (Farmington Hills, Michigan)
State titles: 13 (1981, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998 1999, 2000, 2001, 2010)
Bottom Line: John Herrington
John Herrington was the only coach Harrison High ever had.
He was there when the school opened in 1970 and retired in 2018 after the local school board voted to shut the school's doors for good.
Herrington won a record 13 state championships in 49 seasons, including six in the 1990s, back-to-back titles four times, and three straight from 1997 to 1999.
In Their Own Words: John Herrington
"I love coaching. It’s all I’ve ever done. I’ve done it since 1962, and if I wasn’t out here, I’d feel lost." —John Herrington, MLive
17. Jack Henzes
W-L record: 444-164-8
Win percentage: .727
Years: 49 seasons (1960-2018)
Schools: Wyoming Area High School (Exeter, Pennsylvania), Dunmore High School (Dunmore, Pennsylvania)
State titles: 1 (1989)
Bottom Line: Jack Henzes
One of the more beloved coaching figures in Pennsylvania high school football history, Jack Henzes retired as Dunmore High's head coach following the 2018 season.
Henzes, who coached Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio at Dunmore, won one state championship with Dunmore in 1989.
Dunmore also had a pair of state runner-up finishes under Henzes.
In Their Own Words: Jack Henzes
"Son, you can't play here if you're always in juvenile detention." —Jack Henzes, Facebook
16. C.J. Hamilton
W-L record: 438-93-0
Win percentage: .825
Years: 46 seasons (1973-76, 1979-present)
Schools: Silver Lake High School (Silver Lake, Kansas)
State titles: 8 (1981, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1997, 2006, 2010, 2013)
Bottom Line: C.J. Hamilton
The population of tiny Silver Lake, Kansas, has hovered around 1,500 since the 1980s — right around when the local high school started to become a football powerhouse under head coach C.J. Hamilton.
Hamilton has won eight state titles in 46 seasons, but never back-to-back. Silver Lake has finished as state runner-up 10 times, including four straight times from 2002 to 2005.
In Their Own Words: C.J. Hamilton
"I am still the head football coach." —C.J. Hamilton, 13 WIBW News
15. Jim Hightower
W-L record: 447-133-1
Win percentage: .769
Years: 45 seasons (1975-present)
Schools: Catholic High School of Point Coupee (New Roads, Louisiana), St. Thomas More Catholic High School (Lafayette, Louisiana)
State titles: 4 (1978, 2016, 2019, 2020)
Bottom Line: Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower had a long wait between state titles.
Hightower won his first state title in 1978 at Catholic Point Coupee and grinded away for 39 years before winning his second state title at St. Thomas More in 2016.
It was the same year he was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame.
In Their Own Words: Jim Hightower
"I never dreamed of this ever happening. It never entered my thought process. I thought that maybe I’d get into the LHSAA Hall of Fame eventually, because some of my contemporaries were voted into that. But to be in this Hall with Kevin (Faulk), Jake (Delhomme) and Bert Jones, guys like that, is really beyond my wildest dreams." —Jim Hightower, The Acadiana Advocate
14. Jerry Sinz
W-L record: 448-88-0
Win percentage: .835
Years: 46 seasons (1975-present)
Schools: Edgar High School (Edgar, Wisconsin)
State titles: 7 (1979, 1992, 1999, 2001, 2009, 2010, 2016)
Bottom Line: Jerry Sinz
Jerry Sinz took over as Edgar High's head coach in 1975 and won his first state title in 1979, when the team went 12-0.
It was another 13 years before Sinz and Edgar won another state title, in 1992, and they've gone unbeaten and won a state title four more times. Sinz and Edgar have lost in the state championship game six times, including five times where they entered the game unbeaten.
Sinz has been influenced by many famous coaches and says he fashioned his coaching style after Vince Lombardi, Woody Hayes, Lou Holtz, Bill Walsh, Pat Riley, Bill Belichick and others.
In Their Own Words: Jerry Sinz
"Amateur sports give young athletes a healthy way to burn off energy and learn teamwork, discipline, focus and goal setting. It gives parents a healthy family activity to enjoy with the children and it gives communities a sense of pride to support their hometown athletes." —Jerry Sinz, OnFocus
13. Tommy Knotts
W-L record: 452-65-0
Win percentage: .874
Years: 38 seasons (1983-2003, 2005-present)
Schools: Harding High School (Harding, North Carolina), West Charlotte High School (Charlotte, North Carolina), Independence High School (Charlotte, North Carolina), Dutch Fork High School (Irmo, South Carolina)
State titles: 13 (1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2016-20)
Bottom Line: Tommy Knotts
The only break in Tommy Knotts' legendary high school coaching career came in 2004, when he spent one year at his alma mater, Duke, as an assistant coach.
Knotts is essentially the LeBron James of high school football coaches in the Carolinas, having led three different schools to state titles. Even more remarkable is Knotts didn't win a state title until his 14th season.
In Their Own Words: Tommy Knotts
"First of all, I like watching the kids from ninth grade to 12th grade and seeing how they change and how they grow. The personal side apart from it, I like having my own ball of wax to mold how I want to. To do the things I want to and you have to have good people around you to buy into what your vision is. But I like running my own show." —Tommy Knotts, WLXT
12. George Curry
W-L record: 455-107-4
Win percentage: .807
Years: 46 seasons (1967-2008, 2012-15)
Schools: Lake-Lehman High School (Lehman Township, Pennsylvania), Berwick Area High School (Berwick, Pennsylvania), Wyoming Valley West Senior High School (Plymouth, Pennsylvania)
State titles: 6 (1988, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)
Bottom Line: George Curry
George Curry won six state championships and three more mythical USA Today national titles at Berwick High.
Curry famously coached perhaps the most highly recruited high school football player in history, quarterback Ron Powlus, who led them to one of those national titles in 1992 and was the Parade Magazine and USA Today National Player of the Year.
In Their Own Words: George Curry
"In 1971, I remember coming down to Berwick for an interview. I remember people telling me don’t go to Berwick, it’s a graveyard of coaches." —George Curry, Times Leader
11. Bill Castle
W-L record: 460-97-0
Win percentage: .825
Years: 46 seasons (1976-present)
Schools: Lakeland High School (Lakeland, Florida)
State titles: 7 (1986, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2018)
Bottom Line: Bill Castle
Under Bill Castle, Lakeland has had a pair of winning streaks most coaches don't even do once in their careers — a 60-game streak in the early/mid-1990s and a 53-game streak in the late mid/late-2000s.
Lakeland has won two mythical USA Today national titles under Castle, in 2005 and 2006, with a trio of players who went on to win national titles at Florida and play in the NFL, defensive back Ahmad Black and offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey.
In Their Own Words: Bill Castle
"Go ahead and say it, I am 73 [in 2019]. Obviously, I do [still love coaching]. If I didn’t, I would have long been gone. You got to have a passion. You got to have a passion about something, and that is my passion." —Bill Castle, The Ledger
10. Philip Haywood
W-L record: 465-148-0
Win percentage: .912
Years: 47 seasons (1975-present)
Schools: Prestonburg High School (Prestonburg, Kentucky), Belfry High School (Belfry, Kentucky)
State titles: 7 (2003, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019, 2021)
Bottom Line: Philip Haywood
Almost a half-century into his coaching career, Philip Haywood's teams are playing some of the best football he's ever coached.
Haywood didn't win his first state title until his 20th season, in 1983, then won four consecutive titles from 2013 to 2016 and again in 2019 and 201.
Why would anyone on such a hot streak think about retiring?
In Their Own Words: Philip Haywood
"Our philosophy here since I've been here [at Belfry since 1984] is we wanna get a little better each day." —Philip Haywood, WYMT
9. Corky Rogers
W-L record: 466-84-1
Win percentage: .847
Years: 49 seasons (1968-2016)
Schools: Robert E. Lee High School (Jacksonville, Florida), The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Florida)
State titles: 10 (1990, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011)
Bottom Line: Corky Rogers
Corky Rogers won 10 state titles at Jacksonville's elite Bolles School from 1989 to 2016. During that stretch, Rogers became the winningest coach in Florida high school football history in that stretch.
The best player Rogers ever coached didn't come from that time though. That would be four-time All-Pro safety Leroy Butler, whom Rogers coached at Robert E. Lee High in the late 1980s.
"To me, where it started was the classroom. It didn’t start on the field," Butler recalled in the Florida Times-Union. "Kids picked on me because I wore hand-me downs. He saw that I’d be upset and told me to come to his office and shut the door. 'You’re not in the school fashion show. No, you’re here to get a free education and hopefully get out of the projects. You’re here to learn and hope you learn enough to go to college.' What can a kid say to you after that? I thought, hmm, that’s a good point. If I ever get in the [NFL] Hall of Fame, he’s on the short list to introduce me."
In Their Own Words: Corky Rogers
"When I tell my players to never miss a practice and never miss a workout and to be totally devoted to the team, I better be doing it, too." — Corky Rogers, Orlando Sentinel
8. Gary Rankin
W-L record: 466-78-0
Win percentage: .856
Years: 41 seasons (1982-present)
Schools: Smith County High School (Carthage, Tennessee), Riverdale High School (Murfreesboro, Tennessee), Alcoa High School (Alcoa, Tennessee)
State titles: 17 (1994, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Bottom Line: Gary Rankin
Gary Rankin won four state championships at Riverdale High before coming over to Alcoa High in 2005.
Since coming to Alcoa, Rankin has won 12 state titles, including six consecutive to start his career there and five consecutive from 2015 to 2019.
Rankin, at 66, is one of the youngest coaches on this list, and Alcoa has shown no signs of slowing down. It leaves one to wonder how far he might be able to climb on this list.
In Their Own Words: Gary Rankin
"I’ve never said that we’re going to win the state championship next year, but I have said that I think we’ll be one of the teams that will be in the running for it." —Gary Rankin, Knox News
7. Jim Roth
W-L record: 471-64-2
Win percentage: .876
Years: 39 (1984-present)
Schools: Southern Columbia Area High School (Catawissa, Pennsylvania)
State titles: 12 (1994, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2015, 2017-21)
Bottom Line: Jim Roth
No team in America has dominated its competition on the level of Southern Columbia Area High School and longtime head coach Jim Roth over the last decade.
The Tigers closed 2019 on an 81-game winning streak and won three straight state titles from 2017 to 2019.
The Tigers also had a run of five consecutive state titles from 2002 to 2006.
In Their Own Words: Jim Roth
"Like everybody you’re going to look at wins and losses, and it's obviously important to us, winning football games. We evolved over time to the point where we just try to do the right things on a daily basis and then the wins and losses take care of themselves. So it’s been an evolution in the way you look at things and the way you coach. Success now for us is probably how well we maximize a particular team’s potential, how well that team comes together and we get the most out of them. Some people say it’s all about helping kids develop and turning them into young men and teaching them proper values. That’s something that’s just part of the overall picture when I say about trying to do the right things." —Jim Roth, PA Football News
6. Larry Campbell
W-L record: 477-85-3
Win percentage: .847
Years: 42 seasons (1972-2013)
Schools: Lincoln County High School (Lincolton, Georgia)
State titles: 11 (1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 2005, 2006)
Bottom Line: Larry Campbell
Larry Campbell retired in 2014 how he'd spent the previous 42 seasons as Lincoln County's head coach — surrounded by greatness.
Campbell's exit brought out players from his five decades and 11 state titles at Lincoln County. It was a group that included star pupil and former NFL All-Pro running back Garrison Hearst, among others.
The story of the day was told in a beautifully written article by The Augusta Chronicle's Wayne Staats.
In Their Own Words: Larry Campbell
"Any of you guys can imagine 44 years of trying to raise other people’s children and neglecting your own." —Larry Campbell, The Augusta Chronicle
5. Phil Danaher
W-L record: 490-118-4
Win percentage: .800
Years: 47 seasons (1974-2021)
Schools: Dilley High School (Dilley, Texas), Hamshire-Fannett High School (Hamshire, Texas), Calallen High School (Corpus Christi, Texas)
State titles: None
Bottom Line: Phil Danaher
Phil Danaher is one of several coaches who have managed to ascend the ranks of the all-time winners without ever winning a state title.
Danaher has been at Calallen since 1984 and made it to seven state semifinals and two state championship games.
Before Danaher's arrival, the school went 28 years without a playoff appearance.
In Their Own Words: Phil Danaher
"You make your football team better in the spring and summer, not the fall. We do the same thing every year to get better." —Phil Danaher, That David Hopkins
4. Robert Hyland
W-L record: 478-107-2
Win percentage: .814
Years: 50 (1971-present)
Schools: St. Mary's Springs Academy (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
State titles: 17 (1983, 1984, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Bottom Line: Robert Hyland
Bob Hyland was a star offensive lineman at North Dakota State and won a national championship there in 1969, just a few years before he took over as St. Mary's head coach in 1971.
Hyland went 1-15-2 in his first two seasons, then things picked up just a little bit.
His time since then is the stuff of legend. He's working on a state title in his fifth consecutive decade.
In Their Own Words: Robert Hyland
"When we started winning, it was unique. [The community] did a lot of things to show its appreciation, and we were just able to continue." —Robert Hyland, Total Packers
3. Mike Smith
W-L record: 506-100-2
Win percentage: .832
Years: 51 (1971-2021)
Schools: Hampton High School (Hampton, Virginia)
State titles: 12 (1975, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1995, 1006, 1997, 1998, 2005)
Bottom Line: Mike Smith
The 2010s were the first decade Mike Smith didn't win at least one state title as Hampton High's head coach since the 1970s and Smith retired after the 2021 season.
The Crabbers won their first title in 1975 and five more in the 1980s, but the 1990s put Hampton High on the map thanks to quarterback Ronald Curry — a two-sport star in football and basketball who won a pair of national titles for Hampton and is in the discussion of most highly recruited high school athletes of all time.
In Their Own Words: Mike Smith
"Sure, I do [get excited about the first day of football practice]. It's like the first day of deer-hunting season, when I'd go to my grandfather's and couldn't sleep the night before. I used to be that way with football, but I slept well last night, though. You still love it, but I guess you just handle it a little differently." —Mike Smith, Chicago Tribune
2. John T. Curtis Jr.
W-L record: 603-75-6
Win percentage: .881
Years: 52 (1969-present)
Schools: John Curtis Christian School (River Ridge, Louisiana)
State titles: 26 (1975, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2018)
Bottom Line: John T. Curtis Jr.
John T. Curtis Jr. has been the head coach at the school his father founded since 1969 and could overtake John McKissick as the winningest coach in high school football history in a few seasons.
The school has produced a steady pipeline of NFL products for the last three decades and won a national title in 2012. In 2021, Curtis became just the second head coach in football history, on any level, to pass the 600-win mark and has a shot at taking over the No. 1 spot of all time if he decides to coach until either 2024 or 2025.
In Their Own Words: John T. Curtis Jr.
"You have to guard getting bogged down with too much information. You can get overwhelmed. You have to focus on what is pertinent and what will help you make the right call." —John T. Curtis Jr., FNF Coaches
1. John McKissick
W-L record: 621-156-13
Win percentage: .794
Years: 63 seasons (1952-2014)
Schools: Summerville High School (Summerville, South Carolina)
State titles: 10 (1955, 1956, 1969, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1998)
Bottom Line: John McKissick
The first coach to win 600 games in the history of football, on any level, John McKissick's career was the stuff that books and movies are made of. Literally.
American novelist and South Carolina native Pat Conroy worked McKissick into arguably his most famous novel, "The Prince of Tides" and actually gave him dialogue in another novel, "South Broad." McKissick's mention in "Tides' also made its way into the Oscar-nominated film version starring Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand.
McKissick won 10 state titles and spent his entire 63-year career at Summerville High. He died in November 2019, at 93 years old.
In Their Own Words: John McKissick
"I don’t ever just pitch winning. I pitch all the other things — behavior, good student, being a gentleman — and if character is there, then the winning will be there." —John McKissick, Reuters
Related:Best High School Football Coaches Today