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J.T. Curtis Approaches Top of All-Time High School Coaching Victories List

The late John McKissick, the legendary South Carolina high school football coach, is the only coach at any level of American football with 600 career wins. 

That will almost certainly change this fall, as John Curtis Christian School (Louisiana) head coach J.T. Curtis is just two wins away from 600. 

Curtis, who began his head coaching career in 1969, enters the 2021 season with a lifetime mark of 598-71-6. That puts him 23 wins behind McKissick, who has held the top spot on the all-time coaching wins list for decades.

Hampton (Virginia) High's Mike Smith, who has been the Crabbers' head coach since 1979, will reach 500 career wins with his next victory. He'll be just the third coach to reach that milestone. 

Robert Hyland of St. Mary’s Springs (Wisconsin) and Phil Danaher of Calallen (Texas) are fourth and fifth in all-time wins, respectively, and both are still at the helm at their programs. In fact, six of the top 10 coaches in career wins will look to add to their totals when the high school season kicks off in the fall. 

Five coaches with more than 400 wins won state championships during the 2020-21 high school football season.

Jim Roth of Southern Columbia won his fourth straight Pennsylvania state championship in 2020, his eleventh overall. With 456 wins, Roth is now ninth in career coaching victories. Coming into the 2021 season, Southern Columbia is on a 60-game win streak, the second longest active streak in America.

The other 400-win coaches who won state championships last season are Gary Rankin of Alcoa (Tennessee), Jim Hightower of St. Thomas More (Louisiana), David Gentry of Murphy (North Carolina), and Tom Knotts of Dutch Fork (South Carolina).

Here is the full list of career coaching wins. 

All-Time High School Football Coaching Wins

*Active High School Head Coach

No. 1 John McKissick (South Carolina) 621-156-13

No. 2 *J.T. Curtis – John Curtis HS (Louisiana) 598-71-6

No. 3 *Mike Smith – Hampton HS (Virginia) 499-98-2

No. 4 *Robert Hyland – St. Mary’s Springs (Wisconsin) 482-106-2

No. 5 *Phil Danaher – Calallen (Texas) 480-116-4

No. 6 Larry Campbell (Georgia) 477-85-3

No. 7 Charles “Corky” Rogers (Florida) 466-84-1

No. 8 *Philip Haywood – Belfry HS (Kentucky) 457-141

No. 9 *Jim Roth – Southern Columbia HS (Pennsylvania) 456-63-2

No. 10 George Curry (Pennsylvania) 455-99-5

No. 11 *Gary Rankin – Alcoa HS (Tennessee) 453-77

No. 12 *Bill Castle – Lakeland HS (Florida) 450-95

No. 13 Jack Henzes (Pennsylvania) 444-168-8

No. 14 John Herrington (Michigan) 443-112-1

No. 15 *Jerry Sinz – Edgar HS (Wisconsin) 442-85

No. 16 *Jim Hightower – St. Thomas More (Louisiana) 440-128-1

No. 17 *C.J. Hamilton – Silver Lake (Kansas) 439-94

No. 18 Dick Tighe (Iowa) 432-167-8

No. 19 (tie) Al Francassa (Michigan) 431-117-7

No. 19 (tie) *Jerry Pezzetti – Ankeny Centennial HS (Iowa) 431-167-1

No. 21 *Larry “Bud” Wright – Sheridan HS (Indiana) 429-204-2

No. 22 (tie) *David Gentry – Murphy HS (North Carolina) 426-197

No. 22 (tie) *Tom Knotts – Dutch Fork HS (South Carolina) 426-64

No. 22 (tie) G.A. Moore (Texas) 426-92-9

No. 25 Curt Bladt – Harlan HS (Iowa) 418-63

No. 26 (tied) *Dave Gutshall – Dorman HS (South Carolina) 414-140

No. 26 (tied) *Randy Allen – Highland Park HS (Texas) 414-90-6

No. 28 Jack Holley (North Carolina) 412-96-9

No. 29 *Bill Hurst – Centreville Academy (Mississippi) 409-131

No. 30 Jim Render (Pennsylvania) 406-141-6

No. 31 (tie) Pete Adkins (Missouri) 405-60-4

No. 31 (tie) Bob Milloy (Maryland) 405-124-1

No. 33 Robert Paroli (North Carolina) 403-206-13

No. 34 (tie) Ricky Black – Jackson Prep (Mississippi) 401-79

No. 34 (tie) Jim France – Akron Manchester HS (Ohio) 401-129-4

No. 36 (tie) *Dudley Hilton – Bell County HS (Kentucky) 399-127

No. 36 (tie) Bob Ladouceur (California) 399-25-3

No. 38 (tie) Gordon Wood (Texas) 394-93-15

No. 38 (tie) Sid Otton (Washington) 394-131

No. 40 *Ken Leonard – Sacred Heart-Griffin HS (Illinois) 393-79

No. 41 *Reno Saccoccia – Steubenville HS (Ohio) 392-77

No. 42 Ron Stolski – Brainerd HS (Minnesota) 389-183-5

No. 43 Willie Varner (South Carolina) 383-132-10

No. 44 Ron Holtman (Missouri) 381-103-4

No. 45 Frank Lenti (Illinois) 374-77

Related: Top 50 High School Football Programs by All-Time Wins

Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert


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