5 Decades – 30 Top High School Football Quarterbacks

By Maria Oldham

Frequently referred to as the “the field general,” the quarterback is often the player who is not only a leader on the team but an outstanding athlete that can make split-second decisions to lead the team to victory. It is the most esteemed position on the football team but one that attracts the most scrutiny.

Over the past 3 months, a panel of football experts researched and compiled data to select the top 30 quarterbacks to play Chattanooga area high school football in the last 5 decades. The criteria used for the ranking included: 1) high school football performance (passing yards, state championships won, win loss record, etc.)  2) played college football  and 3) football career following college. While too many great quarterbacks to feature in one article, we do proudly present “5 Decades: 30 Top High School Football Quarterbacks.”

1. Steve Sloan, 6’0” – 180 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Bradley Central (’61)

COLLEGE: Alabama

• 1961 TSWA Tennessee All-State QB

• 1st Team All-American at Alabama

• 1965 SEC MVP honors, Academic All-American

• 153.8 passing efficiency ratio at Alabama – the nation’s best in ‘65

• Played on two national championship teams at Alabama

• Atlanta Falcons

2. Bobby Scott, 6’2” – 201 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rossville (’67)

COLLEGE: Tennessee

• All-City Rossville and Georgia All-State in ‘66

• Threw for a career-high 1,697 yards and 14 touchdowns in ‘70 at Tennessee

• M.V.P. in 1970 Sugar Bowl at Tennessee

• Played 14 years in the NFL and USFL: New Orleans Saints, New Jersey Generals, Chicago Blitz

3. Andy Kelly, 6’3” – 230 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rhea County (’87)

COLLEGE: Tennessee

• High School All-American

• TSSAA Class 3A Mr. Football in ‘86 at Rhea County

• Led the Vols to back-to-back SEC Championships (‘89-‘90)

• Ranks second at UT in all-time passing yards (6,397) and TDs (36) behind Peyton Manning

• 15 years in Arena Football League, four of which were with the Nashville Kats

4. B.J. Coleman, 6’3” – 231 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: mccallie school (‘07)


•Two-time TSSAA D-II Mr. Football: winner in ‘05 and ‘06

• Received the Reggie White Player of the Year Award at McCallie (Sr.)

• Threw for 6,871 yards and 52 TDs on 579 of 1,008 passing attempts at UTC

• Currently with Green Bay Packers

5. Marty lowe, 6’1” – 210 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Red bank (’91)

COLLEGE: louisville

• TSSAA Class 3A American General Mr. Football in ‘90 at Red Bank

• Threw for 4,861 yards, completing 416 of 767 pass attempts in his career at Louisville

• 2 years AFL: St. Louis Stampede, Texas Terrors

6. Loran carter, 6’2” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: dalton (’64)

COLLEGE: auburn

• Two-time AA 1st team Georgia All-State in ‘62 and ‘63

• Recorded 3,129 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns in his career at Auburn

• Threw second-longest touchdown pass in Auburn bowl history in 34-10 victory over Arizona Wildcats in ‘68 Sun Bowl

7. gene etter, 5’10” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: central (‘56)

COLLEGE: tennessee

• Earned 10 letters at Central

• Played on two state championship teams at Central coached by his father, E. B. “Red” Etter

• Ran the ball, threw passes, punted, and called plays as a single-wing tailback at UT

8. Dicky clark, 6’3” – 205 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Rossville (’73) COLLEGE: Georgia

• 1st team Georgia All-State QB at Rossville in ‘72

• In ‘75, as a defensive end, Georgia went 9-3 overall and 5-1 vs. SEC teams

• An All-SEC defensive end and defensive captain for the UGA 1976 SEC Championship team

9. Jimmy “wink” baker, 6’2” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: rossville (‘60)


• All-City Rossville and Georgia All-State ‘59

• 2-time Little All-American and All Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year at ETSU

• ETSU Athletic (‘78) and Rossville High School Sports (‘95) Halls of Fame

• Semi-pro: Chattanooga Cherokees, played for Montreal in CFL and Denver in AFL

10. toppy vann, 5’11” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: rossville (‘53)

COLLEGE: georgia tech

• Played football, basketball and baseball at Rossville

• All-City Rossville and Georgia All-State in basketball and football in ‘50, ’51, and ‘52

• Second team All-SEC at Georgia Tech

• Played for Vancouver, British Columbia Lions in CFL

11. hal ledyard, 6’0” – 185 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: chatT. city (‘49)


• Lettered at UC (now UTC) in 1952

• Member of the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame

• Member of two CFL Grey Cup Championship teams (‘61, ‘62)

• Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 9th round (104th overall) of the ‘53 NFL Draft

• 1 year NFL with the 49ers, 9 years CFL with the Omaha Rough Riders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 2 years ORFU (Ontario Rugby Football Union)

12. billy baker, 5’11” – 190 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: rossville (‘56)

COLLEGE: furman

• Won the Tom McCann Award (best player in Chattanooga) in ‘55

• QB of the ’54 and ’55 championship teams at Rossville

• Set single-game conference records for most pass attempts, completions, pass yards, and total offense while at Furman

• Finished 5th in the nation in passing (1957) while at Furman

13. denny painter

HIGH SCHOOL: central (‘67)

COLLEGE: vanderbilt

• Captain of the ‘66 Civic Bowl winning team at Central

• While at Vanderbilt, he became one of four Chattanooga area quarterbacks (Billy Spears, Toppy Vann, Bobby Scott) to go on to defeat Alabama at the collegiate level

• Bobby Scott (also profiled) and Denny Painter were teammates on the 1961 Little League Baseball World Series Championship Rossville – Fort Oglethorpe team

14. LArry shelley

5’10” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: central (’73) COLLEGE: memphis state

• Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) 1st Team All-State playing under E.B. “Red” Etter at Central in ‘65

• Named to Kick Off Magazine’s “Top 100 Backs” within High School All-Americans

15. freddy rohrdanz

HIGH SCHOOL: brainerd (‘70)


• TSWA All-City at Brainerd in ‘69

• Quarterback for the undefeated (10-0-0) Brainerd ’69 team

• Ranks among the top quarterbacks for total yards and yards per completion in
a single season at MTSU


16. jacob huesman

6’1” – 210 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: baylor school (‘10)


• Totaled 2,828 yards of total offense, including 1,750 rushing with 25 touchdowns as a senior at Baylor

• TSWA D-II 1st team All-State at Baylor in ‘09

• TSSAA D-II Mr. Football finalist as a junior at Baylor

• Baylor went 17-7 in his two years as QB

• TSSAA D-II Mr. Football as a senior at Baylor

• Currently playing at UTC

17. will healy, 6’0”–170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: boyd-buchanan (‘03)

COLLEGE: richmond

• Two-time TSWA All-State, two-time All-State Honorable Mention, four-time All-Region at Boyd-Buchanan

• Holds Chattanooga-area career passing record (7,700+ yards)

• Team captain of Richmond’s ‘08 FCS National Title team

18. terrell robinson

6’3” – 195 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: south pittsburg (‘10)


• Tennessee Mr. Football Division I-A “Back of the Year” award winner at South Pittsburg

• TSWA All-state Tennessee QB selection; led South Pittsburg to the I-A title game

• Chattanooga Times Free Press Best of Preps Player of the Year

• Threw for 1,687 yards, rushed for 1,322 yards and scored 46 total TDs as a senior at South Pittsburg

• Currently playing at UTC

19. dennis bradshaw

HIGH SCHOOL: rossville (‘77)

COLLEGE: memphis

• All-State Georgia Honorable Mention at Rossville in ‘76

• All-North Georgia Football Team at Rossville in ‘77

• Went on to play quarterback collegiately at the University of Memphis

20. Bill Romans

6’2” – 170 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: brainerd school (‘67)

COLLEGE: auburn

• Led Brainerd to a 9-1-1 season in ‘66

• Threw for 1,067 passing yards and 14 TDs at Brainerd in ‘67

• 1st Team TSSAA All-City Chattanooga in ‘67

• 3rd team TSWA All-State Tennessee at Brainerd in ‘67

• Recruited to play quarterback at Auburn

21. rusty kidd

6’3” – 195 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: baylor school (‘65)

COLLEGE: tennessee

• Lettered in football his So., Jr. and Sr. years at Baylor

• Captain of the track, football, and basketball teams his senior year at Baylor

• Won the Doug Milton Football Award at Baylor in ‘64

• Member of the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame

• Went on to play at the University of Tennessee

22. stan nix

6’0” – 180 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Ooltewah (‘86)


• Represented Ooltewah as the quarterback in the ‘86 TN-KY All-Star Game

• First Ooltewah QB to play in college

• At UTC he had 221 passing yards against Furman in ‘87, a record not beaten until Jacob Huesman played as a freshman at UTC in 2012

23. kurt barnes

6’1” – 190 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: chatT. valley (‘82)

COLLEGE: georgia, mtsu

• TSWA All-State at Chattanooga Valley in ‘81

• Signed with Georgia in 1982 as quarterback and punter

• Transferred to MTSU from Georgia where he played as a Blue Raider

24. quincy prigmore,

6’1” – 215 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: cleveland (‘92)

COLLEGE: Tennessee

• Recorded 24 TDs as a senior at Cleveland

• TSWA All-State at Cleveland in ‘90

• Blue-Chip All-American at Cleveland in ‘91

• Played at the University of Tennessee for four seasons

25. danny sandlin

HIGH SCHOOL: brainerd (’66)


• Played basketball, football, and baseball at Brainerd

• Led Brainerd to a 10-1-0 record in ‘64

• Played college football at MTSU

26. Rick Townsend

6’2” – 198 lbs

HIGH SCHOOL: Dalton (’70)

College: Tennessee

• 1st team All-State Georgia AAA as a QB at Dalton

• Was a barefoot kicker with Tennessee, All-America ‘72-’73

• Kicked for the New York Giants in the NFL

27. Johnny Moore

HIGH SCHOOL: howard (‘61)

COLLEGE: Florida A&M

• Played linebacker in addition to quarterback at Howard

• Quarterback of the undefeated 11-0-0 ‘61 Howard team

• Played in the first Pioneer Bowl in 1961 at McCallie’s Alumni Field, where Howard won 89-0 and continued its 40-game win streak

• During his time on the field at Howard, his team scored 382 points and only gave up 55

28. fred shropshire

HIGH SCHOOL: howard (‘68)

College: Western Kentucky

• Passed for nearly 1,000 yards (941) and 13 touchdowns in one season at Howard

• Led Howard’s last undefeated team (10-0), which scored 353 points and gave up only 53

• Was named “Most Athletic,” “Mr. Howard,” All-City and All-HIL (Hamilton Interscholastic League) during his senior year

29. Benji McConkey

HIGH SCHOOL: Dalton (’94)

COLLEGE: Georgia Military College

• Georgia All-State at Dalton in ’93 and ‘94

• Led Dalton to a two-year record of 25-2

• Went 12-1 in ’93 and 13-1 at Dalton in ‘94

• Received a scholarship to play at Georgia Military College

30. Caleb Callahan, 6’2” – 205 lbs.

HIGH SCHOOL: Northwest Whitfield (’05)

COLLEGE: Troy University

• Georgia All-State at Northwest Whitfield in ‘04

• Georgia North-South game selection at Northwest Whitfield in ‘04

• Tennessee-Georgia All-Star game MVP at Northwest Whitfield in ‘05

• Led Northwest Whitfield to a 38-35 win over rival Dalton in ‘05

• Led Northwest Whitfield to a first round state playoff upset of North Clayton in ‘05