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 pat 4 of 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. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/how-do-you-rank-local-high-school-football-programs-by-winning-of-course-and-the-countdown-begins-2/
Part 4: No. 4 – Lincolnton
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.

Von Ray Harris built Lincolnton High’s program into a consistent winner from 1960 to 1987.

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 the first of the area’s “Final Four” schools:

No. 4: Lincolnton
All-time record: 641-385-39 (since 1921). Unknown victory total for Newbold, which began play in the 1940s.
State championships: 2 (1993, 2007 2A)
Conference championships: 19 (1960, 1962, 1965, 1967 Southwestern, 1977, 1980, 1983 Western Piedmont, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 Big Six, 1993, 1994 Western Piedmont, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011 Southern Piedmont, 2016 Southern District 7)
NFL players: Dennis Byrd, C.J. Wilson
Noting the Wolves: Lincolnton began its football program in 1921 and played in the N.C. Open classification playoffs four times in the 1920s….
While the Wolves were almost always competitive, they never won a league title until 1960 – or in the second year of legendary coach Von Ray Harris’ 28-year tenure (1959-86) that ushered in extraordinary stability. Harris led Lincolnton to a 187-96-8 record before his former assistant Richard Smith went 95-59 in 13 years (1987-99) and former Lincolnton player and assistant coach Scott Cloninger went 143-66 in 15 years (2000-2014)….
Lincolnton’s first pro, Dennis Byrd, played fullback and defensive lineman in the early 1960s for the Wolves before becoming an All-American at N.C. State – His No. 77 N.C. State jersey is retired – and a No. 6 overall pick of the 1967 AFL/NFL draft by the old Boston Patriots (now New England)….
Versatile skill players were standouts on Lincolnton’s two state title teams as running back Anwar Wyatt, wide receiver Charles Briggs and quarterback Josh Atkins led the 1993 team and running back C.J. Wilson, wide receiver Demery Brewer and quarterback Adam Thompson led the 2007 team….
Wilson would go on to play cornerback at N.C. State before playing in the NFL….
Another future N.C. State standout, Darian Roseboro, was a fullback-defensive lineman for the Wolves from 2011 to 2014.
Where they play: Battleground Stadium/Von Ray Harris Field
Bet you didn’t know: Lincolnton likely would’ve had a third state title if not for future college and NFL standout Todd Gurley and Tyquan Lewis. Gurley rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns on two sprained ankles in a 39-36 Tarboro win over Lincolnton for the Class 2A 2011 championship at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium.