News

We now have 819 teams &  
174,623 games on AHSFHS.org.


Search Site

AHSFHS Article Series


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





Best Turnaround Coaches

          If you were going to hire a coach to turn around a losing program who would be your first choice? We looked at this question and will give you a list of coaches that have had success at turning losing teams into winning ones immediately.

          The criteria is simple. We took the five year record of each team prior to a coach's arrival at the school and compared it the first five years of the coach at the same school. This should give us a good indication of whether a coach made an impact and not just a great class of players for a couple of seasons.

          In the end we came up with two separate list. One based on winning percentage improvement and one based upon the number of wins the team improved.

Coach Steve Smith following 2009 title game

          Most of the teams are from the modern era (1966-2013) simply because the teams play so many more games with the playoffs than before the playoff era. But, if you survey the lists you will find a few of the coaches prior to 1966.

          By winning percentage improvement Bobby Carr at Edgewood Academy is hands down the leader. In the five seasons prior to his arrival Edgewood went 7-43. Over the next five seasons his teams improved to a record of 49-9. The Wildcats did not qualify for the playoffs in the five years prior to his arrival but made it each of his first five seasons. In his second season he led them to their best record in school history at that time with eleven wins.

          Prior to Bo Bishop's arrival in Excel in 1987 the Panthers had a 12-38 record over the past five seasons. In the five years after he took over as head coach they improved to 53-11 including a 9-5 playoff record and a region championship each season. His teams also won at least ten games in each season.

          Billingsley had fallen upon tough times in the five season before James Carter took the reigns in 1985. In the five seasons prior to his taking the head coaching position the Bears had gone 8-38. Things changed quickly at Billingsley with their new head coach and they began to win the first season going 8-3. Over the next five years they improved to a record of 47-14 winning four straight region championships. They reached the 1A state championship game in 1987 and 1988. 

          In the five seasons prior to Wyman Townsel's arrival in Etowah the Blue Devils struggled with a 9-41 record. All that changed in 1987 when Coach Townsel was named as the head coach. His first five seasons produced a marked improvement for the Blue Devils. He led them to their first playoff appearance in school history in his first season and each of the next four years. Ironically his stay at Etowah was for exactly five seasons and he would leave with a 47-12 record and three region championships. He had been a star athlete for Etowah and also coached at Choctawhatchee high school in Florida from 1965-1974 with a 66-22 record.

          Another coach that turned a program around quickly was Ben Harris at Blount. Coach Harris took over as the head coach of the Leopards in 1988 and proceeded to build a dynasty over the next ten seasons. His teams would win state championships in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 1997. Prior to his arrival the Leopards had made the playoffs twice, losing both games. His playoff record during the next ten seasons was 30-5. Blount won eight region crowns and thirty of thirty-four region games. On a more personal note, Coach Harris is sincerely one of the greatest examples of what a high school coach should be on and off the field.

          Keith Etheridge of Leeds also had great success at turning around a program that had fallen on hard times prior to his arrival in 2006. Leeds had gone 19-34 in the five years prior to his arrival. He quickly turned it around and produced a 57-13 record including two state titles and three region championships. The 57 wins in his first five seasons at Leeds are actually the third most of all-time for a coach in his first five seasons at any school behind Rush Propst's 62 wins in his first five years at Hoover and Don Sharpe with 61 at Andalusia.

          Stan Moss turned Bibb County into a winner in 1979 following eight straight losing seasons including a record of 10-40 the five seasons before he arrived. The Choctaws had qualified for the playoffs only once in the teams history before he took over the reins. His first five teams went 41-10 and 23-3 in region play. He also led the Choctaws to back to back ten win season, the first in school history.

          In the eleven seasons prior to Steve Smith's arrival at Piedmont in 2006 the Bulldogs had one winning season and a single playoff appearance. In his first five years as head coach the Bulldogs went 52-14 and won the school's first state championship in 2009. Four of his first five teams won at least ten games.

         

Turnaround Coaches (percentage)
5 Previous Seasons First Five Seasons
Coach Team Won Lost Pct   Won Lost Pct Improved
Bobby Carr Edgewood Academy 7 43 14.0% 49 9 84.5% 70.5%
Wyman Townsel Etowah 9 41 18.0%   47 12 79.7% 61.7%
Stan Moss Bibb County 10 40 20.0%   41 10 80.4% 60.4%
Johnny Wright Dora 8 42 16.0%   44 14 75.9% 59.9%
James Carter Billingsley 8 38 17.4%   47 14 77.0% 59.7%
Bo Bishop Excel 12 38 24.0%   53 11 82.8% 58.8%
Mark Freeman Bessemer Academy 7 40 14.9%   41 18 69.5% 54.6%
R.L. Watson Baldwin County 9 42 17.6%   39 16 70.9% 53.3%
Leavy Boutwell Geneva 11 39 22.0%   42 14 75.0% 53.0%
Charles Butch Toner Rogers 6 44 12.0%   35 19 64.8% 52.8%
Kenneth McKinney Lamar County 10 37 21.3%   45 17 72.6% 51.3%
John Montgomery Pickens County 5 46 9.8%   36 23 61.0% 51.2%
Ben Harris Blount 11 38 22.4%   49 18 73.1% 50.7%
Oliver Woodard Cullman 17 31 35.4%   42 7 85.7% 50.3%
Howard Byars South Lamar 10 31 24.4%   44 15 74.6% 50.2%
Steve Smith Piedmont 15 35 30.0%   52 14 78.8% 48.8%
Lou Scales Alexandria 7 30 18.9%   29 14 67.4% 48.5%
Todd Watson Foley 14 37 27.5%   42 14 75.0% 47.5%
Joey Jones Mountain Brook 16 35 31.4%   50 14 78.1% 46.8%
Keith Etheridge Leeds 19 34 35.8%   57 13 81.4% 45.6%
Dwight Tew Slocomb 11 41 21.2%   40 20 66.7% 45.5%
Joe Wilson Opelika 16 34 32.0%   43 13 76.8% 44.8%
Robby James Faith Academy 16 32 33.3%   44 13 77.2% 43.9%
Mike Bates Marion County 9 39 18.8%   35 21 62.5% 43.8%
Steve McCord Marbury 13 35 27.1%   39 17 69.9% 42.6%
Lynn Wright Pickens Academy 17 36 32.1%   42 15 73.7% 41.6%
Kenneth McKinney Stevenson 23 26 46.9%   53 7 88.3% 41.4%
Fred Schoenrock Demopolis 17 30 36.2%   45 13 77.6% 41.4%
Larry Patterson Arab 12 38 24.0%   34 18 65.4% 41.4%
Will Randolph Tarrant 20 36 35.7%   47 14 77.0% 41.3%
Richard Gilliam Montevallo 12 31 27.9%   38 17 69.1% 41.2%
Laron White Tanner 18 34 34.6%   44 15 74.6% 40.0%
Rush Propst Hoover 26 26 50.0%   62 7 89.9% 39.9%
Nurmi Nelson Gadsden 17 23 42.5%   32 7 82.1% 39.6%
Steve Savarese Daphne 24 27 49.1%   56 9 86.2% 39.1%
Wayne Grant Pike County 19 33 36.5%   49 16 75.4% 38.8%



Turnaround Coaches (wins)
5 Previous Seasons First 5 Seasons Wins
Coach Team Won Lost Won Lost Improved
Bobby Carr Edgewood Academy 7 43   49 9   42
Bo Bishop Excel 12 38   53 11   41
James Carter Billingsley 8 38 47 14   39
Johnny Wright Dora 8 42 44 14 39
Wyman Townsel Etowah 9 41   47 12   38
Ben Harris Blount 11 38   49 18   38
Keith Etheridge Leeds 19 34   57 13   38
Steve Smith Piedmont 15 35   52 14   37
Johnny Wright Dora 8 42   44 14   36
Rush Propst Hoover 26 26   62 7   36
Kenneth McKinney Lamar County 10 37   45 17   35
Joey Jones Mountain Brook 16 35   50 14   34
Mark Freeman Bessemer Academy 7 40   41 18   34
Howard Byars South Lamar 10 31   44 15   34
Steve Savarese Daphne 24 27   56 9   32
Leavy Boutwell Geneva 11 39   42 14   31
John Montgomery Pickens County 5 46   36 23   31
Stan Moss Bibb County 10 40   41 10   31
R.L. Watson Baldwin County 9 42   39 16   30
Wayne Grant Pike County 19 33   49 16   30
Kenneth McKinney Stevenson 23 26   53 7   30
Spence McCracken Lee Montgomery 24 25   53 12   29
Don Sharpe Andalusia 32 13   61 3   29
Charles Butch Toner Rogers 6 44   35 19   29
Dwight Tew Slocomb 11 41   40 20   29
Todd Watson Foley 14 37   42 14   28
Fred Schoenrock Demopolis 17 30   45 13   28
Robby James Faith Academy 16 32   44 13   28




David Parker
  AHSFHS.org
  dparker@ahsfhs.org






Great Moments in Alabama High School Football History

Hamilton shutout an amazing 14 consecutive opponents from 1928-1930. A atreak that will never be matched in modern football.