How do you rank local high school football programs? By winning, of course. And the countdown continues
Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties high school football all-time rankings.
Here is a 7-part series on how local programs rank all-time based on victories:
Part 1: Teams ranked Nos. 19 to No. 13 – Cramer, Highland Tech, Mountain Island Charter, North Lincoln, Forestview, West Lincoln, North Gaston. https://carolinassportshub.com/how-do-you-rank-local-high-school-football-programs-by-winning-of-course-and-the-countdown-begins/
Part 2: Teams ranked Nos. 12 to No. 9 – Huss, Bessemer City, Burns, East Lincoln. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/how-do-you-rank-local-high-school-football-programs-by-winning-of-course-and-the-countdown-continues/
Part 3: Teams ranked Nos. 8 to No. 5 – Cherryville, Crest, Kings Mountain, East Gaston
Part 4: No. 4
Part 5: No. 3
Part 6: No. 2
Part 7: No. 1
By Richard Walker
High school football first started in Cleveland and Gaston counties in 1910 when old Gastonia High and Shelby High played each other and Lincoln County got its start with Lincolnton High in 1921.
In the years since, it’s become arguably the most popular sporting event in the three-county region.
And since it’s start, our local teams have enjoyed varying degrees of success – from state championship good to winless disappointment.
With the benefit of all-time win-loss records for virtually every school, www.CarolinasSportsHub.com has come up with an all-time ranking of teams in the three-county region.
The method includes adding records of schools that no longer exist, either through consolidation or closure.
For example, Gastonia’s Ashbrook High School traces its history back to old Gastonia High School (which was later renamed Ashley High School) in addition to Lowell Holbrook High School and Highland High School. Gastonia, Ashley and Lowell Holbrook were all-white schools until the 1960s with Highland was an all-black high school until it closed after the 1965-66 school year.
Other schools are combined in the same way.
For instance, the records of old Mount Holly and Stanley High Schools are included with East Gaston since they were the two schools that formed the consolidated East Gaston when it opened in 1972.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a countdown of the 19 current high schools in Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties with records entering the ongoing 2021 season.
Today we look at four more schools that rank Nos. 5 through 8 in the area:
No. 8: Cherryville
All-time record: 356-547-28 (since 1926). Unknown victory total for Chavis, which began play in 1945.
State championships: 1 (1934 WNCHSAA Western)
Conference championships: 3 (1934, 1935 Western, 2013 South Piedmont)
NFL players: none
Noting the Ironmen: The school’s first championship team also gave it a nickname in 1934 as the “Ironmen” finished the season with 11 players, a 7-0-3 record and an old Western N.C. Activities Association state title. Future Cherryville head coach Hinse Quinn scored 66 of Cherryville’s 134 points that year for legendary coach Jack Kiser….
Hinse Quinn’s 1951 team is the winningest in school history with an 11-1 record and two postseason bowl victories (Dairy Bowl and Cherry Bowl)….
While Cherryville has never had a future NFL player, it did have a two-year CFL standout in receiver Stan Crisson, who played at Duke before playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1964 and 1965….
Since going 7-3 in 1953, Cherryville has had two 7-win teams – 7-3 in 1977 under coach Tom Wright and 7-5 in 2018 under coach Tim Pruitt….
In 2003, future Georgia receiver Kenneth Harris set a then-Gaston County-record with 232 yards receiving in a 63-7 win over North Lincoln.
Where they play: Rudisill Stadium.
Bet you didn’t know: One of the first games played at the Rudisill Stadium facility that opened in 1963 was a 14-7 victory for Gardner-Webb Junior College over the Davidson College freshman team in 1964.
No. 7: Crest
All-time record: 432-213-6 (since 1967). Lattimore went 1-5 in 1925 and 1926 for 433 total victories.
State championships: 6 (1994, 1996 4A, 2003, 2004, 2015 3AA, 2014 3A)
Conference championships: 19 (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 Southwestern, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000 Northwestern, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Southwestern Foothills, 2006 Big South, 2013, 2014, 2015 South Mountain, 2019 Big South)
NFL players: Chris Coleman, Brandon Spikes, Jonathan Bullard
Noting the Chargers: Crest went winless (0-9-1) in its first season of 1967 and played its first-year home games at Gardner-Webb’s Spangler Stadium….
Crest had its first winning season in 1971 (5-4-1), first playoff season in 1973 (8-2-1) and first conference champion in 1980 (11-2)….
That 1980 league championship team needed late season help as Burns, which beat Crest at midseason, lost its last two regular season games while the Chargers were winning nailbiters for Crest to claim its first-ever conference title….
Future college standouts Chris Coleman (N.C. State), Shamar Finney (Penn State), Ryan Hamrick (N.C. State) and Tim Ramseur (N.C. State and Appalachian State) helped Crest go 15-0 under head coach Mike Stewart and win the 1994 4A state championship….
The Chargers added five more titles, including 2003 and 2004 with eventual Florida national champion and NFL player Brandon Spikes and future world class sprinter Travis Padgett….
Five members of the Harbison family have played a key role in the school’s history – David Harbison, current Missouri associate head coach Charlie Harbison, former North Carolina A&T standout Herbert Harbison, former Gardner-Webb All-American James Harbison and former Northern Illinois and Charlotte 49ers standout Tre Harbison.
Where they play: Sid Bryson Stadium.
Bet you didn’t know: Manteo Mitchell, a 2012 Olympics 1600-meter gold medalist and 400-meter silver medalist, played football at Crest before becoming a standout sprinter at Western Carolina.
No. 6: Kings Mountain
All-time record: 513-440-20 (since 1922). Unknown victory total for Compact, which began play in the 1940s.
State championships: 1 (1956 WNCHSAA Western)
Conference championships: 12 (1955, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1986, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2008 Southwestern, 2017, 2021-spring Big South)
NFL players: Kevin Mack, Tracy Johnson, Calvin Stephens
Noting the Mountaineers: The Mountaineers won their first titles in 1955 and 1956 under eventual Gastonia Ashley/Ashbrook coach Everette “Shu” Carlton with future Duke quarterback George Harris and longtime school rushing leader Ken Baity. The ’55 team won the school’s lone state title by knocking off Valdese in the old Western N.C. Activities Association title game….
Future Clemson national champion and NFL standout Kevin Mack rushed for 1,585 yards in 1979 as the Mountaineers went 8-2 under future longtime college assistant coach Dan Brooks….
Tracy Johnson and Calvin Stephens played in the mid-1980s before playing at Clemson and South Carolina, respectively, and in the NFL under longtime Kings Mountain head coach Dennis Hicks….
The Mountaineers advanced to the 1998 N.C. 3A state title game under coach Ron Massey and featuring the school’s all-time leading rusher Anthony Hillman (5,550 yards) and eventual Georgia standout lineman Kareem Marshall….
Current Kings Mountain coach Greg Lloyd has become the school’s all-time winner in recent years and has guided the Mountaineers to five seasons of 10 or more victories.
Where they play: John Gamble Stadium.
Bet you didn’t know: One of the most well-attended games in stadium history didn’t involve Kings Mountain. In 1976, due to the small size of Gastonia’s Ashley Stadium, Ashbrook moved its home game with Hunter Huss to Kings Mountain. Traffic backed up I-85 for five miles before and after 10,000 jammed into Gamble Stadium for the 14-12 Huss victory.
No. 5: East Gaston
All-time record: 171-347-3 (since 1972). Mount Holly went 241-140-35 from 1922-71 and Stanley went 123-103-15 from 1946-71 for 535 total victories.
State championships: 2 for Mount Holly (1963 2A Piedmont, 1967 2A Western)
Conference Championships: 3 (1978 Southwestern, 1995 MEGA 7, 2006 Big South), 10 for Mount Holly (1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968 Little Six), 4 for Stanley (1955, 1966 Little Six, 1970 Little Four, 1971 Little Five)
NFL players: none
Noting the Warriors: East Gaston was born of the consolidation of longtime rivals Mount Holly and Stanley, who each had enjoyed success. Mount Holly won 10 conference titles and two state titles and Stanley had won four conference titles….
Mount Holly won its first state title in 1963 when the Hawks defeated North Davidson 14-7 in a game played at Mount Holly’s Costner Field only a few hours after the U.S. President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Those Hawks were coached by Delmer Wiles and their top scorer was eventual North Carolina baseball player, Washington Senators minor-leaguer and longtime East Lincoln coach Bruce Bolick….
Stanley’s biggest success came under a former Mount Holly player and coach Dick Thompson and among the top Blue Devils’ players were record-setting halfback Charlie Handsel and eventual longtime college football coach Buddy Green….
Thompson became East Gaston’s first coach and guided the first three Warriors’ teams to a 10-18-1 record….
East Gaston won its first title in 1978 in the school’s seventh year under coach Jerry Adams….
The winningest team in school history was 2006 when the Warriors advanced to the third round of the state playoffs and finished 11-3 overall behind future Northern Illinois standout Jas Hopkins and head coach Greg Lloyd.
Where they play: Arrowhead Stadium
Bet you didn’t know: Until East Gaston opened its on-campus stadium in 1974, Warriors’ home games were split between Stanley’s Community Stadium and Mount Holly’s Costner Field.