Georgia high school football lost a friend and a legend last month with the passing of Luther Welsh, who won a region title at Thomson in 2010, the final season in a coaching career that began in 1955.
Welsh’s Thomson teams claimed state titles in 1984, 1985 and 2002. His 333 victories rank fourth among Georgia head coaches all-time. (Chris Kane of News Channel 6 put together a retrospective video on Welsh last month that we recommend.)
Welsh’s death was the most prominent of a former head coach this past off-season. Here are six more Georgia coaches who have passed on this year, all with GHSA state titles to their credit, some that you might not know.
*Branch Bragg: Bragg started Coosa’s football program in 1956 won state titles at the Rome school in 1961 and 1969 and had a career record of 166-43-8 in 20 seasons. In 1961, Bragg’s Coosa team defeated Thomas Bunch’s Lincolnton team 21-0 for the Class C title at Sanford Stadium, the last time a high school state final was played there. Bragg died Feb. 18 in Rome, less than two months before Bunch. Bragg was 82.
*Thomas Bunch: Bunch won state titles at Lincolnton in 1962 and 1963 and mentored Larry Campbell. “He meant all the world,” said Campbell, who succeeded Bunch as head coach 40 seasons ago and won 11 state titles of his own. “I don’t know if there’s a finer person that I ever met.” Bunch died April 7 in Lincolnton, his hometown. He was 90.
*Bill Conley: Conley coached at Lovett for 14 seasons and led the Lions to their only state championship in school history. Conley was head coach at the school from 1963 to 1976 and had winnings records in nine of the 14 seasons, compiling an overall record of 93-49-5. His 1970 team went 14-0 and defeated Savannah Country Day 14-6 in the state championship game. Conley died July 23 at his home in Jasper. He was 80.
*Charlie Davidson: Davidson built a dynasty at Washington-Wilkes in the 1960s, winning Class B titles in 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1967. He was the third coach in GHSA history to win four titles after Wright Bazemore and Bill Corry. Davidson left for Darlington, a Rome private school, in 1971 and retired after the 1984 season. Davidson was inducted into the Georgia Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005. Davidson passed away July 4 in Rome. He was 88.
*Bill Saunders: Saunders came to Savannah Country Day School in 1959, when it was changing from an all-girls school to co-educational. He built the athletics program and won a state title in football in 1969. No other Savannah team has ever won a football state title in the GHSA. His career record was 171-67-7. “He is Country Day athletics,” SCD athletics director Lamar Kirkley said to the Savannah Morning News. “Without him, Country Day athletics would not be what it is today.” Saunders died Feb. 8 in Slidell, La. He was 85.
*Weyman Sellers: Sellers, a former star player at the University of Georgia, won state championships at Athens High in 1955 with Fran Tarkenton and in 1969 with Andy Johnson. He also coached at Jonesboro (1973-1981), Pebblebrook (1983-85) and Lithia Springs (1986). Sellers was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010. His career record was 203-142-8. Sellers died Jan. 6 in Fayetteville. He was 85.
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