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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Examining HS Football Programs with Most Wins in Country

Bluebirds Still Stand Second in Country for All-Time Wins

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior running back Larry Wilson (21) tries to break a tackle in a junior varsity game last year against Simon Kenton while Justin Merkle (74) and Chas Sand (15) get in position.
The current coaching staff and players do not place a huge emphasis on it.

But it means a lot to the community. The Highlands Bluebirds football team is one of just 11 programs in the country with 801 or more wins in program history.

Highlands still ranks second in the country for most wins in program history. The Bluebirds closed the gap to 23 wins behind the country's leaders in the Valdosta (Georgia) Wildcats after the 2014 season. The gap stayed at 23 when both teams won eight games each in 2015. But Valdosta gained 11 wins on that lead last year expanding the margin to 34 wins.

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Each member of the top 10 teams in the country with the most victories in program history has a unique story. A few have never won a true playoff-format state championship.

1. Valdosta (Georgia) Wildcats
Overall Record: 913-221-34
2016 Record: 14-1

The Wildcats won the Class 6A state championship last year good for the 24th in program history with a 17-7 victory over Tucker behind the guidance of first-year Head Coach Alan Rodemaker. But that marked the first state championship for Valdosta since 1998.

Georgia expanded from six to seven classes last season and Valdosta did not move up to Georgia's largest Class 7A. The Wildcats played in the rugged Region 1-AAAAAA for years against teams like in-county arch-rival Lowndes.

Valdosta had won three region crowns during the championship drought. The Wildcats own 42 total region championships and six national championships with the most recent one coming in 1992.

2. Highlands Bluebirds
Overall Record: 879-243-26
2016 Record: 3-8

The Bluebirds have 23 state championships in school history with the most recent one coming in 2014 with a 21-point come-back against Owensboro. They have the second-most state titles in Kentucky history after Louisville Trinity took over the top spot with its 24th crown in December.

Highlands will be looking to rebound from a 3-8 campaign last year, which marked its first losing season in 60 years dating back to a 4-5-1 mark in 1955. The Bluebirds still have just nine losing seasons out of 102 in school history.

3. Louisville Male Bulldogs
Overall Record: 869-325-49
2016 Record: 10-3

The Bulldogs are led by Highlands alum Chris Wolfe. The Bulldogs won their seventh state championship two years ago with a 41-14 win over Lexington Lafayette.

Like many schools in the Jefferson County Public School System, Male struggled for a long time against Louisville private football powers Trinity and St. Xavier. One or the other claimed the state championship in the largest class every year between 2001 and 2012. But the Bulldogs stopped that run eliminating both in the Class 6A playoffs 2013 before losing to eventual state champion Scott County, 24-10 in the state semifinals.

Highlands and Male have played four times in school history splitting the meetings. Male won the last meeting in 2002, 35-24.

4. Mayfield Cardinals
Overall Record: 861-253-32
2016 Record: 13-1

The Cardinals are tied with St. Xavier and Beechwood for third with 12 state championships in Kentucky history. Mayfield shot for a fifth consecutive state championship this past fall but the eventual Class 2A champion Christian Academy of Louisville ended that bid with a 48-24 win over the Cardinals in the state semifinals.

One can't mention the Cardinals without mentioning the likes of Jack Morris and son Joe Morris. The duo has been a part of the program for nearly six decades. In 24 seasons between 1969 and 1992 as the head coach of the Cardinals, Jack Morris led the Cardinals to a record of 254-50-2 with four state championships. That included a 31-game winning streak between 1977 and 1979.

Joe Morris took over the program in 1999 and has thrived with a 212-46 record in 18 seasons. He has surpassed his dad with six state championships.

Highlands and Mayfield have never played each other. The Cardinals had been a playoff nemesis to Beechwood before moving up to Class 2A in 2015. Mayfield has won all seven meetings against the Tigers in school history.

5. Massillon (Ohio) Washington Tigers
Overall Record: 861-286-36
2016 Record: 8-3

Massillon has a lot of history with 23 state championships. The last one came in 1970 during the poll era in Ohio. The Ohio High School Athletic Association did not put in the playoff system until 1972.

Since then, the Tigers have been state runner-up three times most recently to Cincinnati St. Xavier in 2005. Cincinnati Moeller beat the Tigers in the state championship games in 1981 and 1982.

One former head coach is former Ohio State, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Paul Brown. Brown led the Tigers from 1932 to 1940 guiding Massillon to an 80-8-2 record with six state championships and a 35-game winning streak. The current head coach is former Cincinnati LaSalle Head Coach Nate Moore.

6. Mount Carmel (Pennsylvania) Area Red Tornadoes
Overall Record: 834-314-57
2016 Record: 5-6

Mount Carmel is located 88 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The Red Tornadoes own five Pennsylvania state championships in school history. The most recent one came in 2002.

7. Easton Area (Pennsylvania) Red Rovers
Overall Record: 828-350-52
2016 Record: 6-6

Easton is located 55 miles north of Philadelphia along the Delaware River. The Red Rovers earned mythical sate championships in 1939, 1958 and 1968 before the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association instituted the state playoffs in 1988. Easton has gone to the state semifinals four times since then with the most recent trip coming in 2004.

Easton has long rivalry with the Phillipsburg (New Jersey) Stateliners from across the Delaware River. Easton leads the all-time series, 63-42-5. The Red Rovers have won five of the last six meetings.

8. Hampton (Virginia) Crabs
Overall Record: 825-265-45
2016 Record: 12-2

The Crabs have been to the Virginia playoffs 35 times in school history. They own a state-record 17 state championships including four straight between 1995 and 1998. Their last crown came in 2005.

9. Canton McKinley (Ohio) Bulldogs
Overall Record: 819-349-42
2016 Record: 6-5

The Bulldogs, like the Stark County rival Massillon Tigers, have a storied tradition. The school became the lone high school in the city with the merger with Timpken High in 2015. Massillon leads the all-time series, 64-51-5.

McKinley plays its home games at the renovated Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium next to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is home of the NFL's annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

The Bulldogs owned seven Associated Press poll state championships prior to the current playoff format Ohio started in 1972. Since then, McKinley won state championships in 1981, 1997 and 1998 and finished runner-up in 1977, 1985 and 2004.

10. The Muskegon (Michigan) Big Reds
Overall Record: 818-279-43
2016 Record: 12-2

Muskegon has played in the Michigan state championship nine times in school history winning five crowns with the most recent one coming in 2008. The Big Red lost 29-28 to Orchard Lake St. Mary's in the Division 3 title game last year.

Muskegon is located along the shores of Lake Michigan in western Michigan not far from Grand Rapids.

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