Who’s won the most? Shelby hosts Reidsville on Friday in a clash state’s two winningest programs

By Richard Walker

When Shelby hosts Reidsville on Friday in the Western N.C. 2A semifinals, it’ll match the two winningest programs in state history based on overall wins and state championships.

It’ll also be the fifth time the two schools have clashed on the football field, with all previous meetings also in the postseason.

Jim Taylor is Shelby’s all-time winningest coach with a 201-54-2 record from 1977 to 1997.

Shelby lays claim to the most documented victories in state history with 827 wins since its first team in 1910.

Reidsville is second with 750 victories since 1927.

But Reidsville lays claims to most state titles in a determination that some would consider complicated and/or inaccurate.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association credits Reidsville with 19 state titles and Shelby with 11. Both programs rightly claim more.

Reidsville is recognized for winning state titles in 1930, 1931, 1932, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1943, 1945, 1950, 1954, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020-21. That doesn’t count two other regional titles – in 1963 and 1970 – in the days in which the state didn’t crown a single state champion.

The argument can be made that the Rams played in the postseason as far as they were allowed to play in each of those seasons as the state crowned two, three, four and even five “regional” state champions in that era.

Shelby’s argument is even stronger, as the NCHSAA doesn’t recognize seven other title the Golden Lions have won – six in the old Western N.C. Activities Association and one when the NCHSAA did a “runner-up” playoff system in the early 1980s.

The Golden Lions won a Western Conference WNCHSAA title in 1947 and won or shared outright WNCHSAA titles in 1968, 1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976. The WNCHSAA operated from 1931-76 before those schools joined the NCHSAA. And the NCHSAA Division II title came when Shelby won that Western 3A title in 1984 when the state held playoffs for each of the conference runner-up teams in the 4A, 3A and 2A classifications that didn’t make the then-called Division I state playoffs.

Gerald Allen coached Shelby to five old Western N.C. Activities Association titles during his 1956 to 1976 head coaching tenure. Here he’s celebrating the Golden Lions’ 1972 title.

In addition to victories and titles, both programs also can lay claim to future NFL players and legendary coaches.

Each has produced four future NFL players in Nick Sacrinty, Jim Duncan, Na Brown and Jerome Simpson for Reidsville and Johnnie Hudson, George weWatts, Tommy London and Robert Williams for Shelby. Hudson is the first NFL player ever produced by N.C. as he played in the NFL’s first season of 1921.

Both programs also have had extraordinary coaching continuity and coaching success.

Reidsville first head coach, L.J. “Hap” Perry, guided the Rams to a 140-40-12 record and eight state titles from 1927-45 before later becoming the first full-time executive director of the NCHSAA and later a 1992 inductee into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

Bob Sacrinty (24-14-4 from 1963-66) and John Morris (42-32-2 from 1967-73) also won state titles before current coach Jimmy Teague (325-55 from 1992-2008 and 2012-21) added nine more titles. (Eventual Crest state championship-winning coach Mark Barnes coached Reidsville to a 23-12 record from 1989-91.)

Overall, the Rams have had nine head football coaches since 1927.

Shelby has had eight head coaches since 1924, with Casey Morris (144-96-19 record from 1924-32 and 1936-55), Gerald Allen (175-49-14 from 1956-76), Jim Taylor (201-54-2 from 1977-97), Chris Norman (147-39-1 from 1998-2010) Lance Ware (99-25 from 2011-18) and Mike Wilbanks (32-5 since 2019) accounting for the state titles.

When they two programs have met, Shelby has gotten the better of their matchups with three victories in the four previous meetings.

Jimmy Teague, who once coached at Charlotte’s Garinger High School, has guided Reidsville to 325 victories and 9 state titles.

In 2005 in the Class 2AA state championship game at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium, Shelby won 26-18.

In 2007 in the Class 2AA state championship game at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium, Reidsville won 28-20.

In 2013 in the Class 2A Western final at Reidsville, Shelby won 49-3 one week before claiming a state title.

And in 2014, in the Class 2A Western third round game at Reidsville, Shelby won 17-7 two weeks before claiming a state title.