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AHSFHS Article Series

   The best of the best in Alabama High   
  School Football over the past 100 seasons.

Alabama High School Football Head Coaches

Nolan Atkins

Nolan Atkins was born August 8, 1936 in Webster County, MS and graduated from S.D. Lee High School in Columbus, MS. He earned a bachelors degree from Mississippi State and a Masters degree from Livingston University.

He spent the first four years of his career as an assistant coach at Alcorn County, MS; Robins High School in Tampa, FL; and Escambia County High School in Atmore. In 1966, he moved to Sweet Water and was named head football coach and athletic director.

Sweet Water had not been the football powerhouse that it is known as today but all that would soon change following his arrival. Their best seasons up to 1966 had been a two-year stretch under Fred Ramsey in 1953-54. The Bulldogs went 9-1 in 1953, and 8-2 in 1954. After those seasons, Sweet Water struggled until Atkins arrived.

His teams improved their record every year from 1966 to 1969, and the Bulldogs achieved their first undefeated season in school history in 1969 and reached the State Championship game before losing to Excel in the finals.

In 1970, the school board closed Sweet Water and coach Atkins went to Florida for one year. After an uproar from local residents the school re-opened the following season and their coach returned. Beginning late in the 1972 season until the middle of the 1975 season his teams won 33 consecutive regular season games but could not get through the playoffs and win their first State Championship.

That all changed in 1978 and 1979 with back-to-back titles. The 1978 team finished 13-0 and in the championship game the Bulldogs defeated West Jefferson 34-0. The 1979 team upped it to 14-0 defeating Carrollton 35-0 in the title game.

Then in 1980, the high school was closed again. Atkins went to Thomasville for that season, but when Sweet Water reopened in 1981, he came back and led a group that had not been in athletics for a year to an 8-2 season. Atkins and Sweet Water would once again win the State Championship in 1982 following a 9-1 regular season. The Bulldogs defeated Calera 14-7 in the title game.

In 1986, Atkins won his fourth and final State Championship at Sweet Water following an 8-2 regular season. The two losses came to Thomasville and Livingston, which were 4A teams, whereas Sweet Water was 1A. The Bulldogs defeated Courtland in the State Championship game 26-14.

In seven years as baseball coach at Sweet Water his teams won six State Championships (1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1989 and 1990) and was runner-up the another season while posting a 130-40 overall record. In 1982, he was the head coach of State Championship teams in both baseball and football.

Atkins remained at Sweet Water a total of 23 seasons and left with a 216-50-5 record. In 1992 he took the head coaching job at Sumter Academy in the AISA for two seasons and would coach at Patrician Academy for three seasons. Finally in 1996 Atkins would hang up the cleats as a high school head coach for good with an overall coaching record of 270 wins, 67 losses and 5 ties.

Coach Atkins was selected as the Coach of the Year by the ASWA in 1986. He was elected to the AHSAA Hall of Fame in 1991. He was also honored by his selection to the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2003, the football stadium at Sweet Water High School was named in his honor.

Alabama Record:  271-67-5   80.2%
Other States Record:  0-0-0   
Overall High School Record:  271-67-5   80.2%

Back to Coaches List

 Season Total   Playoffs   Region/Area Record 
 Team   Season   Class   W/L/T   PF  PA   W/L/T   PF  PA   Region   Title  W/L/T   PF  PA 
Patrician Academy
Patrician Academy1996 AISA-AA7-43301380-11522West3-19664
Patrician Academy1995 AISA-A12-1420662-13220West#6-021826
Patrician Academy1994 AISA-A11-24051562-111749West#6-017062
 3 Years30-711553604-31649115-1484152
Sumter Academy
Sumter Academy1993 AISA-AAA7-42761220-1020West
Sumter Academy1992 AISA-AAA8-33451320-12124West
 2 Years15-76212540-221440-000
Sweet Water
Sweet Water1990 2A4-6234206R11-37397
Sweet Water1989 2A10-34031042-16128R1#4-015520
Sweet Water1988 2A10-2292881-11421R1#4-013724
Sweet Water1987 1A9-2372520-11417R1#3-01400
Sweet Water1986 1A13-24161325-011353R1#3-014819
Sweet Water1985 1A8-33411400-12022R1#3-01330
Sweet Water1984 1A12-34321344-19428R12-110726
Sweet Water1983 1A8-32571570-13037R1#4-012323
Sweet Water1982 1A13-14871464-09837R1#5-022032
Sweet Water1981 1A8-221568R14-17629
 10 Years95-273449122716-644424333-51312270
Thomasville1980 3A8-32061070-107R1#5-112470
 1 Year8-32061070-1075-112470
Sweet Water
Sweet Water1979 1A14-0448814-011730R1#5-013318
Sweet Water1978 1A13-04881084-015648R1#5-020632
Sweet Water1977 1A9-22571170-1721R1#4-012450
Sweet Water1976 1A8-2-1245940-1013R1#3-0-19436
Sweet Water1975 1A12-23631243-18241R1#3-09742
Sweet Water1974 1A11-1292771-13716R1#1-0228
Sweet Water1973 1A11-1346901-14527
Sweet Water1972 1A10-1-14011301-13547
Sweet Water1971 1A6-4173141
Sweet Water1969 1A11-13701521-14830
Sweet Water1968 1A7-2-1295109
Sweet Water1967 1A6-3-123783
Sweet Water1966 1A5-4-1167162
 13 Years123-23-54082146815-752727321-0676186
 29 Years271-67-59513341635-19115665874-7-52596678

Other States
 Season   W/L/T   Playoffs    
Jay, Florida
1 Year6-4-00-0 
Totals Alabama and Other States
30 Years277-71-50-0 

Records reflect scores in our database. Some records may be incomplete. We have chosen to publish this information in hopes our visitors will participate in assisting us to complete every school.
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Great Moments in Alabama High School Football History

Robby James has won nine AISA State Championships during his career at Catherine Academy, Morgan Academy and Marengo Academy.