Greatest Win Streaks

by b.b. Branton

An undefeated season is every coach’s goal, but string together multiple perfect football seasons with a championship or two thrown in and you have victory streaks for the history books. Spanning the last 100 years, Tennessee state win streaks are peppered with high schools from the Chattanooga area. What follows are the top win streaks from the Chattanooga area. From Baylor’s 25-game win streak in the mid-1940s to Cleveland’s historic 54-game win streak to South Pittsburg’s back-to-back titles in the new millennium, the list includes seven schools that amassed an amazing nine win streaks of 20 or more victories.

Cleveland: 54-game win streak
Sept. 3, 1993 – Nov. 22, 1996

Key Wins

1993
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Sept. 3 / Hixson / 70-0
#15 / Dec.11 / * Brentwood / 26-21
1994
#29 / Dec. 10 / ** Haywood / 7-6
1995
#40 / Nov. 10 / Tennessee High / 33-12
1996
#50 / Oct.18 / McCallie / 48-7
#54 / Nov. 15 / Greeneville / 28-14
* 4A state championship game
** 4A state championship game 

Starting with a 70-0 victory against outmatched Hixson on Sept. 3, 1993, and ending with a 31-7 loss to Anderson County on Nov. 22, 1996, in the second round of the ’96 playoffs, Cleveland attained what was at the time the longest win streak in Tennessee state history. It was later surpassed by Maryville (74).

Cleveland coach Benny Monroe achieved his long-awaited football state championship in 1993, taking the momentum of a championship team to win two more in the 54-game streak. Cleveland’s titles came against Brentwood Academy in 1993 and Haywood in the 1994 and 1995 finals. The Blue Raider stars included all-state running backs Kevin and Keith Cobb and Stepfon Woods, defensive back Dante Hickey, quarterback Cory Prigmore and defensive stalwart Carlos Thompson.

On Dec. 11, 1993, against Brentwood Academy, running back Keith Cobb scored the winning touchdown with 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Blue Raiders claimed the state title, 26-21. This was their first state title game since 1982. Quarterback Cory Prigmore was the game’s Offensive Most Valuable
Player with 195 yards passing and a touch-
down.

Against Haywood in
the ’94 championship game, Dante Hickey was
the star. His third quarter 11-yard run was Cleveland’s only touchdown, but it proved to be enough after Joe Cordero’s extra point as the Blue Raider defense held a talented Haywood team to six points.

The capping win of the streak was against Greeneville on Nov. 15, 1996. Running back Stepfon Woods rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns (one 90 yards and one 47 yards) for Cleveland’s 54th straight win, 28-14.

The win streak ended with a 31-7 loss to Anderson County, the next week, Nov. 22, 1996.

 

Marion County: 2 win streaks

26-game win streak: Sept. 4, 1992 – Nov. 26, 1993
30-game win streak: Sept. 2, 1994 – Aug. 30, 1996

Key Wins: streak 1

1992
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Sept. 4 / South Pittsburg / 14-7
#15 / Dec.12 / *Brentwood / 28-26
1993
#26 / Nov.19 / Gibbs / 39-0
* 2A state championship game
    Key Wins: streak 2
1994
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1/ Sept. 2/ South Pittsburg/ 6-0
#15/ Dec.10/ *Portland/ 43-14
1995
#30/ Dec.2/ ** Humboldt/ 28-7
* 3A state championship game 
** 3A state championship game 

Anchored by a state final 28-26 upset victory against mighty Brentwood Academy in 1992, Marion County posted win streaks of 26 and 30 straight games in a five-year period (1992-96).

The seemingly omnipresent, big rig Marion County diesel horn sounded long into that cold December night in 1992 after the vanquished defending champion, Brentwood Academy Eagles, left their state runner-up trophy on the field. In the game, Guy Hansard scored an offensive and defensive touchdown for Marion County (15-0) and the Warriors ended the Eagles’ 26-game win streak in one of the great upsets in state playoff history.

But far from a one-time wonder, the Purple-clad, horn-blowing Warriors of coach Ken Colquette were in the midst of a 7-year, 70-7 run with four state crowns (1990, ’92, ’94, ‘95).

The 26-game streak came to an end when Kingston edged the Warriors, 7-6, in the 1993 state quarters.

But the run of 30 straight was just around the corner, starting Sept. 2, 1994, against South Pittsburg. There’s nothing better than to start a win streak in your archrival’s stadium. Safety Eric Westmoreland (see page 16) returned a 66-yard interception for the game’s only score, winning 6-0.

On Dec. 2, 1995, Marion County won its fourth state title, winning 28-7 against Humboldt. Westmoreland was the game’s offensive MVP.

The win streak ended with a 12-0 loss to South Pittsburg on Aug. 30, 1996.

 

South Pittsburg: 26-game win streak

Aug. 31, 2007 – Nov. 21, 2008

Key Wins
2007
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Aug. 31 / Marion Co. / 47-19
#15 / Dec. 7 / *McKenzie / 52-20
2008
#20 / Sept. 26 / Tyner / 28-21
#26 / Nov. 14 / Friendship
    Christian / 28-12

* 1A state championship game

Though South Pittsburg already had three championships under its belt, 2007 was the year that kicked off an unbroken 26-game win streak. The high-powered South Pittsburg Pirates of coach Vic Grider won 15 straight games that year on the way to the school’s fourth state championship.

A convincing 47-19 triumph against archrival Marion County opened the season and set the tone for the championship campaign. In the playoffs, the Pirates defeated 5-time state champion Trousdale County, 2006 state runner-up Friendship Christian, Gordonsville, and No. 2-ranked Hampton before making it to the December 7 championship game against No. 3 McKenzie. There, running back Robert Robinson rushed for 204 yards and four touchdowns to beat McKenzie 52-20 for the title. Robinson was the game’s Offensive Most Valuable Player, while teammate David Jones was the Defensive Most Valuable Player with six tackles, one quarterback sack and a forced fumble.

In 2008 the win streak continued as the Pirates won 11 straight. On Sept. 26, 2008, quarterback Terrell Robinson threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns against Tyner for the Pirates’ 20th straight win in two years. Against Friendship Christian on Nov. 14, David Jones rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-12 playoff win and the team’s 26th straight win. The win streak ended the following week with a 13-6 loss at Trousdale County in the state quarterfinals, but not before this South Pittsburg team had carved a name for itself in state records.

 

Howard: 24-game win streak

Sept. 30, 1960 – Oct. 19, 1962 

Key Wins

1960
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Sept. 30 / Council  / 20-6
#10 / Sept. 15 / Clarksville / 20-0
1961
#19 / Dec. 19 / *Holloway / 89-0
1962
#24 / Oct. 12 / Pearl / 18-13
* Inaugural Pioneer Bowl (@ Howard)

Howard football coach George “Chubby” James and his staff instilled in their players the attitude of winning. During James’ first five seasons (1959-1963) at Howard, the Hustlin’ Tigers were 46-0-3 – including 24 straight wins – before suffering a defeat in mid-season 1963.

The Tigers won three undisputed state championships (1960-61-62) and two bowl games, rolling past teams across a four state area, including the full span of Tennessee, from Memphis Melrose High School to Nashville Pearl and cross-town rival Booker T. Washington.

The win streak started with a 20-6 victory against Council (Huntsville) on Sept. 30, 1960, and ended with a 20-20 tie at home against Stephens-Lee (N.C.) on Oct 19, 1962. Top players included quarterback Thomas Gordon and halfback Marvin Nicholson in 1960, halfback Noel Thompson and quarterback Johnny Moore from the perfect 11-0-0 season of 1961, and halfback Major Bowles, quarterback Reuben Turner, tackle Melvin “Big Daddy” Smith, center William “Little Bill” Davis, and fullback Clevon Thompson in 1962.

The Hustlin’ Tigers knew how to win big, posting 89-0 against Holloway in the inaugural Pioneer Bowl in 1961 and 35-0 against Booker T. Washington in 1962.  But the key wins were closer games. In 1961, the Tigers came from behind to beat Stephens-Lee on October 19. Trailing 14-0 in the first quarter for the first time all season, Howard halfback Major Bowles made scoring runs of 85 and 90 yards to lead the comeback win, 24-14. The next year, in a similar comeback against Nashville Pearl, Clevon Thompson’s 19-yard scoring run in the third quarter proved to be the winning marker after trailing 13-12 at halftime. The win streak ended the next week with the tie with Stephens-Lee, though Howard’s unbeaten streak continued until Oct. 18, 1963.

 

Baylor: Two Record Win Streaks

Key Wins: Streak 1
1943
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Oct. 8 / Red Bank / 14-0
1944
#15 / Oct. 6 / Columbia Military 
Academy (CMA) / 58-7
1945
#20 / Sept. 28 / Hurt School / 45-6
#25 / Nov. 2 / CMA / 25-13
  Key Wins: Streak 2
1973
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Sept. 7 / Kirkman / 37-0
#13 / Dec. 7 / *Hillcrest / 6-0
1974
#20 / Oct. 25 / Clarksville NW / 16-13
#22 / Nov. 8 / Red Bank / 31-28 (5OT)
*AAA state championship game

From Billy Brooks and Gordon Pettus of the mid-1940s to Clay Gibson and Andy Rutledge of the mid-1970s, the running game was the key to a pair of Baylor 20-plus win streaks. Defense was also a key to both eras as guard Joe Steffy, a future Outland Trophy winner at West Point (college football’s best lineman), anchored the Baylor defense of the ‘40s, while his counterpart, Scott Price, was an all-city and all-state defensive back in 1973. The Red Raiders of coach Humpy Heywood in the ‘40s won 25 straight while the Baylor Raiders under coach E. B. “Red” Etter came close to that record with a 22-game win streak in the 1970s.

The two games against Columbia Military Academy (CMA) in the ‘40s were key wins for Heywood’s team. On Nov. 3, 1944, Gordon Pettus scored on a 95-yard kickoff return and Paul Kelly scored twice, as Baylor won the Mid-South Conference game 58-7. The next year, Baylor beat CMA 25-13, extending its win streak to 25. The win streak ended the next week with a loss at Louisville Manual, 20-13, on Nov. 10, 1945.

The 1973 Raiders ploughed through their own share of tough wins. In their Dec. 7 game against Hillcrest, with star running backs Andy Rutledge and Clay Gibson injured, Baylor relied on its defense to win the first state and national title. One scoring pass was all that Baylor needed, winning 6-0. The final game of the win streak was against Red Bank on Nov. 8, 1974. Nine thousand fans saw Baylor win its 22nd straight game in five overtimes. The win streak ended with a 26-20 home loss to Dalton, on Nov. 15, 1974.

 

Brainerd: 22-game win streak

Sept. 8, 1961 – Aug. 30, 1963 

Key Wins
1961
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Sept. 16 / East Ridge / 12-0
#10 / Nov. 24 / *Spring City  / 14-7
1962
#11 / Aug. 31 / **Marion Co. / 20-0
#21 / Nov. 22 / ***Madison / 14-7
1963
#22 / Aug. 30 / Marion Co. / 20-0
* Rockwood Jaycee Bowl ** first home game on campus *** Clinic Bowl (Nashville)

Highlighted by two bowl wins, the Rockwood Jaycee and the Clinic Bowl, the Brainerd Rebels won 22 straight games in a span of three seasons, a state-best record at the time.

After an opening game tie, 7-7, at Marion County on Sept. 1, 1961, the Rebels ignited their victory streak, posting their first-ever win at East Ridge (12-0) on Sept. 8, 1961. Ironically, the win streak ended nearly two years later (Sept. 6, 1963) with a loss to the East Ridge Pioneers, 13-7.

In between, it was a dream come true for Brainerd’s first senior class—a class which in two years never tasted defeat.

In that inaugural 1961 season, coach Ray Coleman molded talented players into a strong team that played all games on the road (10-0-1) due to no on-campus stadium. The two “home” games were played at Engel Stadium.

The high-water mark of 1961 came in the game against City High. Larry Reese ran 52 yards for a first-quarter score, and the Rebel defense held City to 83 total yards to post a 7-0 win before 6,000 fans at City High’s Memorial Field.

The Rebs came out of the gate fast in 1962, posting a 20-0 win against Marion County in the new Brainerd football stadium. That season, Coleman took his team all the way to the Clinic Bowl in Nashville, beating Madison 13-7. Halfback Gary Tucker scored on a 13-yard run with 53 seconds remaining to cap a perfect season at 11-0-0.

In all, a stubborn defense posted seven shutouts in those 22 wins across three seasons. All-state Jim Clark (tackle) and all-city performers Mike Crowe (guard) and DeWayne McCamish (end) were among the top defenders.

Red Bank: 20-game win streak

Aug. 26, 2000 – Sept. 21, 2001

Key Wins
2000
Win / Date / Opponent / Score
#1 / Aug. 26 / Brentwood Acad. / 34-7
#15 / Dec.2 / *Riverdale / 27-7
2001
#20 / Sept. 14 / Cleveland / 23-7
* 5A state championship game

Coach Tom Weathers led his nationally-ranked Lions from a 5-6 record in 1999 all the way through an undefeated season to the state title in 2000.

All-state running back Gerald Riggs was the main Lion in 2000 as he led Red Bank to a 15-0 season and the school’s first football state championship. Riggs was the championship game Offensive Most Valuable Player with 209 yards and three touchdowns in the snow-covered 27-7 triumph against Riverdale. He was later named the 5A Mr. Football Back of the Year.

Starting with a convincing 34-7 defeat of Brentwood Academy to open the 2000 season, the 20-game win streak went from Aug. 2000 to Sept. 2001. Against Brentwood, running back Jamichael McGoy rushed for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while quarterback Fred Holder threw for 97 yards and another two touchdowns – a great start to the championship season after losing to Brentwood in the 1999 opener.

The Lions posted their first 10-0 regular season mark in a decade in 2000 and then went 5-0 in the post-season to claim the title. The streak continued into the beginning of the 2001 season. On Sept. 14, 2001, Gerald Riggs rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns against Cleveland for Red Bank’s 20th straight win. The win streak ended the following week in an 18-13 loss to McCallie.