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A Century of Champions

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Traditions & Spirit

A History of LaGrange High School Football

“The tradition and excellence that is LaGrange High football has been built, re-defined and enhanced for over 100 years by some of the greatest coaches in the history of high school football in the Peach State,” says Scott Sickler, LaGrange football historian. “LaGrange football is, simply put, a cavalcade of legends."

LaGrange Football traces it's history back to 1903 when the school first opened.  Teams from 1903-1915 were coached by students and volunteers.  Organized Athletics came to LaGrange in 1916 Henry E. Newton Jr.  was named the First Coach of the then "LaGrange Blue Veterans" football team (Newton also coached Baseball).  In the century that has followed Granger Football has built a Championship Tradition.    

Legendary Championship Winning Coaches


Bernie Moore

Tatum Gressette

Skeet Johnson

Oliver Hunnicutt

Gary Guthrie

Steve Pardue

In the over One Century of LaGrange Football State Championships have been won by six different coaches. Further many of the men who strode the Granger sidelines now reside in various Halls of Fame.

Bernard "Bernie" Moore - Coach Moore lead the Grangers to the 1921 State Championship during his tenure. He later coached at The University of the South (Suwanne) and was at Louisiana State University as head football coach from 1935-1947 where he won back-to-back SEC titles his first two seasons as head coach, he also served as Track Coach winning a National Championship. He became the second Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference in 1948. The Track Stadium at LSU is named in his honor and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1952.

Tatum Wannamaker Gressette, Sr. - Famed among University of South Carolina fans as "Tiger Killer Tatum" he had an impressive career as a college athlete for the Gamecocks.  While he only served as the Head Coach for four seasons, in three of those he won state titles.  He was later the Football Coach and Athletic Director of The Citadel in Charleston, SC.  He is a member of The Citadel and South Carolina Sports Halls of Fame.

George Saynor "Skeet" Johnson - A standout baseball player at the University of Georgia, Johnson coached baseball and football at LaGrange High School. In his tenure as head coach, 1927 to 1936, his teams won multiple North Georgia Titles, precursors to modern Conference and Region Titles. Further his 1930 team, which was the first team known as "The Grangers," captured the State Title. He left teaching and went into private business in 1936.  He was the founder of the Johnson Agency,  and later director of Lions International.

William Oliver Hunnicutt - A legend among legends in Granger history he was born and raised in Macon, Georgia. In college he was a standout player and three‐year letterman at the University of Georgia. During his Over a 32‐year football coaching career at Gainesville (two years) and LaGrange High Schools, he posted a 185‐97‐22 record. His teams won multiple region titles and state titles in 1955 and 1958. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1961.

Gary Guthrie - Coach Guthrie took the helm in 1984 and led the Grangers to region titles in ’85, ’86, ’89 and an undefeated GHSA 4A and USA-Today national championship season in 1991 in what was simply a magical season for LaGrange.  LaGrange remains one of only four Georgia teams recognized as National Champions (Valdosta, Thomasville, and Warner Robins are the others).

Steve Pardue - Coach Pardue, an assistant to Guthrie on the ’91 state and national championship season, was named Head Coach following Guthrie's departure. His tenure from 1994-2010 was the most successful run in over 100 years of LaGrange football. Pardue's teams won state titles in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Two of Pardue’s teams — 2001 and 2004 — were nationally-ranked.

LaGrange’s ’04 champions are counted as one of the greatest single teams in Georgia High School football history. They were one of only 11 teams in GHSA history (1947-present) to have won every game in a season by at least 11 points. Pardue’s ’04 GHSA 3A state champions were nationally-ranked in six polls and named as the Georgia High School Daily newsletter as the GHSA 3A Team of the Decade.

Other Coaches of Note

LaGrange has had other coaches in it's history who made a major impact on the history of both LaGrange Football and at other schools.

Amos Milton Teasley Jr. (1940-1941) served as the Head Coach at Union College in Jackson, TN and on the staff at the University of Georgia.

Kimsey Stewart (1943-1944) is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (inducted 1961 in the same class as Oliver Hunnicut).  He complied a 125‐38‐5 record as a high school football coach while leading Spalding and Griffin to championships in the 1950.

Alfred "Al" Mariotti (1945) only served as head coach for a single season, but worked on Coach Hunnicut's staff as an assistant and was head basketball at LaGrange from 1951-1962 winning the State Championship in 1952 and state runner up three times.  He was later the basketball coach at LaGrange College from 1962-1974.  The gym at LaGrange College bears his name.

Jimmy Hightower (1971-79) is a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.  He is best known for his great success at Americus High School in the 1960s with Dan Reeves and Chan Gailey, later NFL greats.  

Danny Cronic (1980-83) coached the ’83 Grangers to a 14-1 record.  That season included a win over then National No.1 Clarke Central High School, coached by Billy Henderson, at Callaway Stadium.  A game still ranks as one of LaGrange’s all-time greatest wins.   Cronic went on to coach at East Coweta and was the founding coach at Reinhardt College.

Granger Accomplishments

In the history of LHS Football there have been wins, championships and a host of stand out players.  One Hundred and Sixty Eight Grangers have been named to All-State Teams, over 200 have played football at the collegiate level, and 13 have gone on to play in the National Football League; including Tyrone Poole who played in Superbowl Winning teams with the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.

With 758 official wins at the end of the 2015 Season, LaGrange is  among the Top 50 winningest high school football programs in the USA (among 13,000 teams) and one of just four schools in Georgia (Valdosta, Warner Robins and Thomasville others) to ever have claimed a high school football national championship.

It is based on this history that when someone asks "What is a Granger?" the answer is, "A Granger is a Champion."