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 the sixth 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
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 No. 2 winningest school:
No. 2: Ashbrook
All-time record: 334-230-9 (since 1970). Gastonia Ashley went 242-189-35 from 1910-69, Holbrook went 91-168-12 from 1927-69 and Highland went 162-121-21 from 1930-65 for 829 victories.
State championships: 2 (1974 4A, 2002 3AA), 1 for Gastonia (1925 Open), 1 for Highland (1946 NCHSAC)
Conference championships: 17 (1970 Division 7, 1971, 1972 Division 8, 1973, 1974 Division 10, 1978, 1982 Western, 1985, 1986, 1990 Southwestern, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 MEGA 7, 2004, 2005 Big South), 2 for Gastonia (1942, 1944 Western), 4 for Ashley (1960, 1964 Western, 1967, 1968 Division 7), 7 for Highland (1931, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1951 Piedmont Athletic Association), 1 for Holbrook (1969 Little Five)
NFL players: Frank Tate, Sean Boyd
Noting the Green Wave: The first Ashbrook team in 1970 went 10-1 with Gaston County’s first NFL player Frank Tate and eventual Texas Rangers minor leaguer Wade Frye on the roster. Frye, a quarterback, passed for 1,040 yards….
Ashbrook’s 2002 team won 3AA state title with kicker Julian Rauch scoring the winning point in last four playoff games. Rauch in 2007 would become more famous for his game-winning field goal in Appalachian State’s historic 34-32 win at Michigan – and Rauch also won three NCAA FCS football titles at Appalachian State….
Gastonia won its first conference title in 1942 behind future Oklahoma All-American tackle Wade Walker. It also was the first Green Wave team to beat nearby rival Charlotte Central….
Highland won a 1946 state championship with eventual Ashley and Ashbrook assistant coach Bob Mason as a standout tackle. Among the other former Highland standouts were lineman Thomas Gunnings, who is the grandfather of current Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Taylor Moton, and current Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton, who was Highland’s last quarterback in 1965….
Lowell Holbrook has six winless seasons in its 34-year history. But in the Lions final year of 1969, it went 10-2 and won its first league title.
Where they play: Ashbrook Stadium/Bill Eccles Field
Bet you didn’t know: In an era where segregated schools rarely shared fields, Highland used the old Gastonia High stadium to host its 7-6 win over Raleigh Washington in the 1946 N.C. High School Athletic Conference football championship game. It’s the same facility that also hosted the 1935 American Legion World Series won three games to none by Gastonia Post 23 over Sacramento, Cal.