Notebook: More on Georgia’s oldest rivalries

In doing research on the longest continuous active rivalries, GHSF Daily unearthed some trivia. If you missed it from Thursday, the oldest active unbroken rivalry is Trion vs. Gordon Lee, which has been played each year since 1946.

Edit: Here is the list from Thursday:

1946 – Trion-Gordon Lee

1950 – Valdosta-Colquitt Co.*

1951 – Commerce-Jefferson

1951 – Ringgold-Lakeview Ft. Oglethorpe

1952 – Seminole Co.-Terrell Co.

1954 – Bowdon-Bremen

1954 – Fitzgerald-Irwin County

1958 – Miller Co.-Seminole Co.

1958 – Lincoln County-Washington Wilkes**

The longest would’ve been the series between Columbus and Jordan, schools that had played each season since 1938 until last year. The schools moved to different regions in the change to six classifications. Not only was the rivalry interrupted, but both teams also finished 0-10, making it a double shame.

Atkinson County and Clinch County had played each season since 1956 until last season. The football gods apparently don’t like this sort of break in tradition because Atkinson County finished 0-10, and Clinch County had its first losing record since 1985.

Mary Persons and Jackson missed playing in 1970-71 or their streak would go back to 1945.

Metter and ECI have played 75 times, with the series at 37-37-1, according to GHSFHA. They first played in 1926. They did not play each other in 1998 or 1999 or their streak would extend to 1947.

Berrien and Cook missed playing in 1972 and 1973 in a rivalry that is otherwise continuous since 1954.

Gilmer and Pickens have played each season since 1957 – except for 1972, when they were in different subregions. The subregions were redrawn in 1973, and they resumed hostilities.

Metro Atlanta’s most-played rivalry

The most commonly played game between metro Atlanta opponents has been Roswell vs. Milton. They’ll meet for the 59th time on Sept. 20. They started playing each other in 1950 but took a couple of breaks (1964-69, 1998-99).

The six-year hiatus in the 1960s was not voluntary, according to Roswell athletics director John Coen.

“After a bench-clearing fight involving fans from both sides in the 1963 game at Milton, the GHSA suspended both schools from playing each other for those six years,” Coen said.

They played again in 1970, with Roswell winning 41-6 and later claiming the Class A championship with quarterback Jeff Bower (later head coach of Southern Miss).

Metro Atlanta’s oldest unbroken series

The oldest unbroken active rivalry in metro Atlanta is Duluth vs. Norcross. They’ve played each season since 1970. Central Gwinnett and South Gwinnett have played each season since 1957 – except for 1998-99. Marist and St. Pius played each season from 1962 to 2009, but not since. Forest Park and Jonesboro have played each other 56 times starting in 1952, but they’ve not scheduled each other several times, including this season.

Carver’s Jones, Hubbard now NFL teammates

LB Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and OL Chris Hubbard (UAB) played on the same state championship Georgia football team at Carver of Columbus in 2007. Now, they are rookie teammates with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who open their season this weekend. The Steelers also had former Georgia teammates (and state champions) on last year’s roster in DL Cameron Heyward and P Drew Butler, but Butler was released earlier this week. Heyward and Butler played on Peachtree Ridge’s 2006 state championship team.

Brother vs. brother in Walnut Grove-Loganville

Walnut Grove is a 4-year-old school in Walton County that considers tonight’s opponent, Loganville, almost like a big brother. In fact, opposing quarterbacks Josh Laughlin (Loganville) and Tucker Laughlin (Walnut Grove) are brothers. Tucker, a junior, started in the Loganville district but moved to Walnut Grove partly to avoid comparisons with Josh. Tucker lives with his father, Steve. Josh lives with his mother, Jennifer. “All the grandparents are coming in; it’s going to be interesting,” said Daniel Laughlin, an uncle to the boys. “We’re going to have one happy kid and one upset kid.” Daniel Laughlin said that Tucker attended Loganville for a year but moved partly to strike his own path outside his older brother’s shadow.

Brother-to-brother TD pass

Warner Robins QB Caden Johnston threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to his brother, TE Conner Johnston, in a 21-10 victory over Veterans last week. Their father is Skip Johnston, the strength and conditioning and offensive line coach. He is a Sprayberry graduate who played on the Yellow Jackets’ region championship team of 1982.

Warner Robins was part of 1976 rankings upheaval

Until 2006, it had happened only once in AJC rankings history (dating to 1952) that the No. 1-ranked team in the highest classification had lost in consecutive weeks. It has happened three times since (2006, 2007, 2013). What’s odd about the 1976 season is that the eventual state champion that year, Warner Robins, is considered by many to be the best team in state history. It featured James Brooks (NFL) and Ron Simmons (WWE). But that didn’t dawn on the Atlanta Constitution until after Oct. 5, when defending champion Thomasville and then Valdosta lost their No. 1 rankings in consecutive weeks. Valdosta beat Thomasville 29-9 to claim the top spot (Buck Belue was Valdosta’s quarterback), but Valdosta lost 28-26 the next week to Dougherty (Luther Welsh was Dougherty’s coach). Warner Robins, underrated perhaps because it had never won a state title, finally got the No. 1 spot and went on to win its three playoff games by an average score of 43-2.

Propst: Kirkland better than Custis

Colquitt County coach Rush Propst says that Lovejoy running back Jeremiah Kirkland is better than last year’s 2,000-yard rusher, Travis Custis, now at Georgia Tech. Kirkland rushed for 2,000 yards last season too, but for Landmark Christian. He rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries in a victory over Mundy’s Mill last week. The leading rusher was DeRico Tilley with 117 yards on seven carries, one a 75-yard run. Lovejoy travels to Colquitt County today.

41-year radio voice DeLoach nears retirement

Tony DeLoach, the play-by-play radio voice of Jeff Davis football, is in his 41st and final season of broadcasting high school sports on the radio. DeLoach began his career in Claxton in 1973 and has covered Tattnall County, Toombs County, Vidalia, Pinewood Christian, Bleckley County and now Jeff Davis. DeLoach says he’ll continue to contribute to Tommy Palmer’s Friday night scoreboard radio show and be part of the radio crew on WGNN for the state championship games at the Georgia Dome.

On a corner in Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Add Alexander’s Matthew Combs to the list of Georgia head coaches who are not from the South. He’s a graduate of Buena High in Sierra Vista, Ariz., and the University of Arizona. He joins Steve Horton of Tucson as Georgia’s reps from Arizona. That list was published last week. GHSF Daily is down to only 48 coaches for whom we don’t know their high school alma maters. We’re getting ready to name names.

Briefly …

Bill Ballard of White County got his 100th victory last week. Ballard has coached at Tucker, Peachtree Ridge and now White County, leading each to the playoffs. His record is 100-33. … Tim McFarlin of Blessed Trinity can get his 100th victory tonight at Hart County. McFarlin’s record is 99-43-1. … Wayne County, the No. 8 team in Class AAAA, is ranked for the first time since 1994 under fourth-year coach Jody Grooms. In 2009, Grooms helped Lakeside of Evans to a state ranking for the first time in school history. … Lincoln County coach Larry Campbell had a birthday on Thursday. He’s 65.

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8 comments Add your comment


September 6th, 2013
10:14 am

LaGrange and Newnan started playing back in 1908 per ghsfha, and have played 65 times since. I know that’s not continuous, but it’s still pretty dang impressive, especially since the schools aren’t the same size

Dr. John Trotter

September 6th, 2013
2:04 pm

I believe that the longest and continuous high school rivalry in Georgia is Columbus High School vs. Jordan Vocational High School. Jordan’s name was changed from Secondary Industrial School to J. V. H. S. after the new school building was constructed in 1937 on land donated by industrialist G. Gunby Jordan. The rivalry between C. H. S. (my mother’s and other relatives’ alma mater) and J. V. H. S. (my father’s, my siblings’, and my alma mater) goes back to 1905. I believe the two teams played each other last night…perhaps for the 108th year in a row.

GAE Out of Schools

September 6th, 2013
6:43 pm

Ol Trotter will soon tell us all about how integration has worked wonders…….

General Mills

September 6th, 2013
8:38 pm

Benedictine vs. Savannah High

This is Georgia’s oldest high school football rivalry, and it may be the oddest, too. One of the traditions surrounding this game was the burning of the loser’s coffin by the winning team.

According to author Maurice “Mutt” Sheppard, who wrote Savannah’s Thanks-giving Day Football Classic: Benedictine Vs. Savannah High, students would build coffins representing each school.

Following the game, the winners would parade through town, snake dancing between the stalled cars, and burn the losers’ coffin – sometimes with an effigy of a player inside – at the intersection of Bull and Broughton streets while students from both schools watched.

The game was “the biggest event in Savannah until Georgia high school rule changes resulted in the game being played before Thanksgiving,” says Sheppard, a 1959 Benedictine grad.

For years this was the sporting event of the year, bringing 15,000 fans to Grayson Stadium (now a minor league ballpark) or Memorial Stadium, and everybody dressed for the occasion, men in coats and ties, girls wearing corsages.

“You got involved in that game from the time you were a youngster in grammar school,” says Albert “Whitey” Moore, a Savannah High grad. “Kids around town would ask one another which team you were for and you’d better get the answer right, depending on who was talking.”

Sometimes it was hard to get the answer right even within the confines of your own family. Whitey Moore played for Savannah, but his three brothers went to Benedictine.

“We weren’t Catholic, but it was a good school and my brothers wanted to go to Benedictine. I just had an inclination to continue in the public schools,” he says.

He actually played in the 1952 game against his younger brother, Charlie Moore. Whitey was a senior on the offensive line, and Charlie was Benedictine’s sophomore quarterback.

“They beat us 6-0 that year and Charlie scored the winning touchdown,” Whitey says. “I was disappointed that we lost, but brotherly love won out and I was proud that he scored the game’s only touchdown.”

Integration, busing and redistricting have changed the dynamic and demographics of the game, but the two schools – with rare exceptions – still have an appointment on the football field every fall.

It was always a regional game, with bragging rights and league trophies on the line. But as Benedictine keeps its student body to around 315, Savannah High’s numbers have shifted around. So, for many years it became a non-region affair, but still the big money game. This year (because schools may move up in Georgia High School Association classification) Benedictine is playing in Region 3-AAAAA with Savannah.

“The game lost a lot of its luster due to re-classification over the years, but it was great in the mid-’80s when I was playing. Now that we’re in the same region, perhaps there is more meaning to the game again,” says Benedictine head coach Mark Stroud.

Even in the 1980s, says Savannah head coach David Jackson, “You knew it was gonna be a fight in the trenches the minute you hit the field until the end of the game. It was intense. We played little league with those guys across the field. They were our teammates in other circumstances. But on that football field, the competitive nature of human beings came out in a big way.”


September 6th, 2013
8:50 pm

Being from Savannah, I always heard the oldest rivalry was Benedictine vs. Savannah High. There is a reference to it and other long time rivalries in:

Bee Hive Haired cashier at Dooleys Den

September 6th, 2013
9:37 pm

Hillbillly activity


September 9th, 2013
3:13 pm

Colquitt County and Valdosta will have their 101st meeting this year at Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium. No two teams in Georgia have played more times!


September 9th, 2013
6:22 pm

Greene County and Morgan County series goes back to 1917 !!!!!