Football Fridays In Georgia's Jon Nelson talks about the next big high school football milestones
As Georgia's high school football season enters mid-October, it's been a meaningful week off the field for some coaches.
GPB Sports' Jon Nelson joined All Things Considered host Rickey Bevington to highlight some career wins and a bit of sports history.
Rickey Bevington: So it's been a busy season in terms of coach career milestones.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, and we can even go back as far as last Friday night, to be honest with the recency of it all. Fellowship Christian's Tim Macfarlane's in his 22nd season, if my math is correct. He won his 200th game last week and really, that only puts him 15th on the active list right now when you've won your 200th game here in the state. We've had other coaches who have cleared the 200 milestone so far this year. There's a coach in Jackson County who, with his next win, will get to 300, so it's been eventful so far.
Rickey Bevington: It really does speak to the passion of high school football coaches that they're sticking around long enough to win so many games. And this isn't even the highest number on the scale so far that we've seen this year.
Jon Nelson: Nope. Coming into this season, Marist's Alan Chadwick had 399 career wins. He's been a head coach at Marist since 1985. When you talked to him before the season, everybody was wondering, "OK, when are you going to get to 400? When are you getting to 400?" And he was "Aw, shucks"-ing about the whole thing. He goes, "I don't know. It might take me five or six games for us to get to 400."
It took him his first game, so he's at 400 right now and he's chasing the state record of 477. Legendary coach Larry Campbell got that at Lincoln County. He started in 1971 as a co-coach, coached for about 40 years and is at 477. And the big question, Rickey, for Coach Chadwick is does he get to 477. He's 74 away right now at 403. He admits he doesn't have any hobbies. He doesn't play golf or anything like that. So, does he stick around to get the record here in the state?
Rickey Bevington: That could take another 10 years.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And considering the success that Marist has had, that sounds about right. They're a defending state champ. You play 10 games if you're in a regular season. You can play as many as 15 if you get to a championship game. So it could be another decade for Alan Chadwick's chasing it since 1985, and he's this close now.
Rickey Bevington: If we compare Alan Chadwick to national coaches, where does he line up?
Jon Nelson: This is the interesting aspect in this. There is a legendary coach in South Carolina by the name of John McKissick. He coached into his 80s and he coached at the one school that he was at for over 60 years. He finished with 621 wins. So you're talking another 218 that Coach Chadwick would have to get to even match McKissick. I don't know if he gets there, but still, when you look at what Alan Chadwick is accomplishing, still in the present tense, that's still pretty strong.
Rickey Bevington: We have a big game on GPB TV tonight, Jon. Who is coaching tonight's Football Fridays In Georgia Game of the Week?
Jon Nelson: It is the Gladiators of Johns Creek and Matt Helmrich, and he has come up from the state of Florida. He was with one of the more storied private school programs — nationally ranked, national recognition — at St. Thomas Aquinas. He's been at Johns Creek for the last couple of seasons. Going up against Craig Bennett from Cambridge — and he gets to be a proud papa on the sidelines. His daughter actually kicks the points after touchdowns for Cambridge, and so it's an interesting dynamic to keep an eye out there. Big game for both of these teams when it comes to the postseason, possibly.
Rickey Bevington: Tune in Friday Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. to watch Cambridge at Johns Creek on GPB-TV. Stream live at GPB.org or on the GPB Sports app.