How do you rank local high school football programs? By winning, of course. And the countdown concludes
Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties high school football all-time rankings.
Here the seventh part 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. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/how-do-you-rank-local-high-school-football-programs-by-winning-of-course-and-the-countdown-begins-3/
Part 5: No. 3 – South Point. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/how-do-you-rank-local-high-school-football-programs-by-winning-of-course-and-the-countdown-continues-2/
Part 6: No. 2 – Ashbrook. Link: https://carolinassportshub.com/how-do-you-rank-local-high-school-football-programs-by-winning-of-course-and-the-countdown-continues-3/
Part 7: No. 1 – Shelby
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 the all-time winningest school:
No. 1: Shelby
All-time record: 816-305-41 (since 1910). Cleveland Training School has a documented 58-41-2 record from 1953-66 though its program began in 1931 for 874 documented victories that is first in N.C. high school football history.
State championships: 18 (1947 WNCHSAA Western, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976 WNCHSAA, 1984 Western 3A Division II, 1986, 1987 3A, 1998, 2013, 2014, 2015 2A, 2005, 2007, 2016, 2018, 2019 2AA), 2 for Cleveland (1956, 1957 NCHSAC 6-man)
Conference championships: 39 (1944, 1947 Western, 1954, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1995, 2006, 2007, 2018, 2019, 2021-spring Southwestern, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 Southern Piedmont, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Midwest, 2009, 2016 South Mountain), 2 for Cleveland (1956, 1957 Tar Heel)
NFL players: Johnnie Hudson, George Watts, Tommy London, Robert Williams. For Cleveland: Bobby Bell, Mel Phillips
Noting the Golden Lions: Johnnie Hudson in 1921 became the first N.C. high school product to play in the NFL. Also a former two-sport N.C. State athlete, Hudson also played on Shelby’s first professional baseball team in 1923….
Shelby’s first title team in 1944 was coached by the legendary Casey Morris and its captains were eventual Shelby football coach Gerald Allen and eventual Shelby assistant coach Bobby Reynolds….
Cleveland Training School won back-to-back N.C. High School Athletic Conference 6-man state titles behind quarterback Bobby Ball. An eventual Outland Trophy winner as a defensive lineman at the University of Minnesota, Bell was a Super Bowl champion and eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer as a Kansas City Chiefs linebacker….
With Gerald Allen as head coach, Shelby won old Western N.C. High School Activities Association titles in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976….
Other state championship-winning coaches for Shelby were Jim Taylor, Chris Norman, Lance Ware and current Shelby coach Michael Wilbanks….
Former Cleveland Training School star Mel Phillips, who played in the NFL, and former Shelby High standout Jim Washburn, each spent more than 40 years in coaching, many of those years in the NFL.
Where they play: Blanton Memorial Stadium
Bet you didn’t know: Shelby’s first African-American star, Marcus Mauney, rushed for a then-Cleveland County record 3,809 yards from 1968 to 1970, helping the Golden Lions to state titles in 1968 and 1970 and a state runner-up finish in 1969 before playing defensive back at West Virginia for then-Mountaineers head coach Bobby Bowden.