Americus legend Hightower dies; high school coach of Reeves, Gailey

Jimmy Hightower, who led Americus to football state championships in 1962 and 1965 and was the high school coach of Dan Reeves and Chan Gailey, has died.

Hightower’s record in 21 seasons as a head coach from 1960 to 1980 was 155-64-4, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. Hightower also coached at Cedartown (1971), his hometown; LaGrange (1972-79); and Bainbridge (1980) before going to college ball at Georgia Southwestern.

Hightower had his most success at Americus in the ’60s. He was hired at the school in 1954, became head football coach in 1960 and won state titles in football, basketball, baseball and golf.

He was the head coach of future famous head coaches in Reeves (1960 senior season) and Gailey (1967). Reeves played on Hightower’s 1961 basketball state championship team.

Reeves and Gailey were high school quarterbacks under Hightower and later were head coaches in the NFL, Reeves with the Broncos and Falcons, Gailey with the Cowboys and Bills.  Gailey was Georgia Tech’s head coach (2002-07).

“I owe everything I am in coaching to Coach Hightower,” Gailey once said. “He made me want to be a coach.”

Hightower died Saturday. He was 82, according to the Americus Times-Recorder.

6 comments Add your comment


April 2nd, 2013
2:09 pm

Coach Hightower touched the lives of many young men and made the world a better place. R.I.P.

Big Al

April 3rd, 2013
6:33 am

Hightower was one heck of a coach. I was in Dublin High during the early and mid 60’s and we played them every year. It was always one of the few games we lost. In 1963 we made an end run around Hightower and his Americus team. They beat us but lost to Thomasville in the playoffs. Then Dublin beat Thomasville and won the State Championship one game later.

Hubert Green

April 3rd, 2013
7:37 am

RIP coach; you made a difference in young people’s lives.


April 3rd, 2013
12:14 pm

As a game official during his time at LaGrange,I saw no better coached teams than his.My crew worked his games against Max Bass’ Newnan team each year…They were classics.. I’m glad I knew him

War Eagle

April 3rd, 2013
1:34 pm

Jimmy Hightower,Doc Ayers Cedartown, Bill Chappel Dalton, Oliver Hunnicut LaGrange, Max Bass Newnan, Charlie Grisham Carrollton, Wright Bazmore Valdosta, Forgot name Gainsville, Waymon Creel Lakeside,Coach Davidson Morgan County probably had 2000 wins and very few loses, THESE COACHES GUIDED MANY LIVES WITH SUCCESS. All have gone to Coaches Heaven except Coah Ayers,Chappel, Bass

Chico Lynch

April 4th, 2013
7:56 pm

It was a pleasure and honor to coach with Coach Hightower. He taught me a great deal about working with young athletes. He was one of the best.