Football in the Family

(above) photo Bill Healy

By Katie Faulkner

Meet a roster full of grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers who share the bond of Chattanooga football camaraderie. Families with a football tradition talk about the life lessons they learned on the field and around the dinner table after practice. From prominent coaching families to NFL legends, these athletic ancestries share what their family’s football culture looks like.

(above) Will Healy coaching at UTC, Chip Healy in the NFL, and John, Lance, and Rob Healy

The Healy Family 

Baylor School & Boyd Buchanan | Three Generations

Bill Healy | Class of 1941 | G | Baylor School Chip Healy | Class of 1965 | LB | Baylor School Rob Healy | Class of 1969 | RB, LB | Baylor School Lance Healy | Class of 1993 | DE | Baylor School John Healy | Class of 1995 | QB | Boyd Buchanan Will Healy | Class of 2003 | QB | Boyd Buchanan

The Healy family football legacy began with two-time All-American guard for Georgia Tech, Bill Healy. His sons, Chip and Rob, both earned All-City honors in football at Baylor. Both went on to lauded college football careers – Chip became an All-American linebacker at Vanderbilt, then went on to play for the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL. Rob followed in his father’s footsteps and played at Georgia Tech as a running back. All of Rob’s sons played too. Lance played defensive end at Baylor, while John played quarterback for Boyd Buchanan. Rob’s youngest, Will, had a successful college football career as quarterback for the University of Richmond and is currently serving as head coach at Austin Peay University, as the second youngest DI head coach.

“Football has always been an important part of our family, and it all started with my dad. It was a game that I loved, and having my father as an example of how to play was important to me. He taught me that effort was the most important thing. He also taught me to have respect for the coaches. I never remember him being critical of my coaches even though I knew sometimes he did not agree with them.” – Rob Healy

“I didn’t start playing football until seventh grade, but it has been a big part of my life ever since. One of the best things my dad did was to allow me to start football when I was ready, not when he was ready. Then, on the way home from practice, we often discussed hustle, toughness, and determination: the intangibles.”  – Will Healy

“I would say that our family’s culture is heavily influenced by football. From practicing field goals in the living room to family chants and cheers for mom’s good meal, our lives have had football intertwined for as long as I can remember.  Fall can’t come soon enough. Go Govs!” – John Healy

(above) Sam Darras, Mike Darras, Chris Darras, Alex Darras

The Darras Family

Notre Dame | Four Generations

Sam Darras | Class of 1940 | G Mike Darras | Class of 1968 | FB, LB Chris Darras | Class of 1988 | TE, DT Alex Darras  | Class of 2016 | QB, K, P

A vital component of the Notre Dame football team, Sam Darras was known as “60-Minute Man” because he filled in for anyone who came out of the game. At that time, there were only 12 players on the team, so being conditioned enough to play both ways and almost any position was invaluable. He was awarded All-City, All-State, and All-Southeast before going on to play for UTC.

Sam’s son, Mike, followed in his father’s footsteps to play football at Notre Dame and earned honorable mention All-City. Mike’s son, Chris, also received honorable mention All-City two of his four years playing and made the All-City freshman team. Alex, the most recent Darras to graduate from Notre Dame, made All-City, All-State, and Best of Preps before going on to play at Sewanee.

“Football is a big part of our family – playing, getting together for games. It’s been part of my life since the day I was born – the Tennessee vs. Georgia game was the day after I was born, and my dad held me while watching the game at the hospital. He wouldn’t leave until the game ended, even though we were released during the third quarter. So, football has been in my blood from the beginning. My dad taught me to remember to always have fun and to show good sportsmanship and respect for my teammates and opponents alike. I played in the yard with my dad until the day he told me that my throwing was hurting his hands.” – Alex Darras

“Our family has played, watched, attended, and discussed football games for all our lives. It has brought us closer together and gives us something to share. My dad, Mike, taught me the many traditions of the game, that you won and lost as a team, and that you’ve got to get up every time you get knocked down. I practiced a lot with my dad at home but also at team practice because he coached me from third to eighth grade. The best advice he ever gave me was, ‘Sports are a lot like life – they take hard work, dedication, and teamwork to be successful.’” – Chris Darras

“We have all enjoyed football on and off the field, and it made us love our school. I learned a lot of things about football and life from my father. We would practice ‘wig-wag’ pass patterns at home in the yard. I remember he told me, ‘Sports get you girls. Don’t miss the bus.’ He also taught me to always thank my blockers when I scored a touchdown.” – Mike Darras

(above) Ted Gatewood III and Austin and his grandfather, Ted Jr.

The Gatewood Family

Red Bank & East Hamilton | Three Generations

Ted Gatewood Jr. | Class of 1963 | OT, DT Ted Gatewood III | Class of 1983 | C, DT | Red Bank High School Austin Gatewood | Class of 2014 | SR, LB | East Hamilton High School

Coming from a household that held football discussions around the kitchen table, Ted Gatewood III learned from his father’s high school and college playing experience. Taking to heart many of the lessons his father taught, Ted grew into not only a successful defensive tackle and center, but also one of the Chattanooga area’s most successful high school football coaches. He coached his son, Austin, at East Hamilton High School and helped him achieve his dream of playing in college. Austin now attends East Tennessee State University.

“When I was younger, dad and I would go outside and throw the football a lot. When I got to high school, he was my coach, so at home he was my father, and on the football field he was my coach. He let me discuss film or a game with him, but if I didn’t bring it up, we just talked like normal. He taught me that football and life go hand in hand – not everything will go your way, and you have to be able to overcome adversity.” – Austin Gatewood

“Football season in our family has always been a special time of the year. The anticipation for the upcoming Friday night high school games rolled into the Saturday college games, followed by the Sunday and Monday night NFL games. Our entire family has been involved with football: My children served on the sidelines as water boys and girls, and my father helped on the sidelines every Friday night. When I played at Red Bank, my wife was a cheerleader there, and my parents were actively involved in the booster club even after I graduated. My favorite game in high school was the 1982 Oak Ridge game where we were behind at halftime and came back and snapped their 70-something home game winning streak.” – Ted Gatewood III

(above) Dan, Curt, and Wejun with their mother, Adams Robinson, Mike Robinson, and Nic Robinson

The Robinson Family 

McCallie School | Three Generations

Harry “Wig” Robinson – “The Harrycane” | Class of 1942 | RB Monk Robinson | Class of 1949 | RB Wejun Robinson  | Class of 1970 | FB, RB Curt Robinson | Class of 1971 | RB Monk Jr. Robinson | Class of 1974 | OL  Dan Robinson | Class of 1977 | RB, DB Mike Robinson | Class of 1984 | DE George Robinson | Class of 1979 | LB Tommy Robinson | Class of 2001 | LB Russ Robinson | Class of 2012 | DL Adams Robinson | Class of 2018 | LB Nic Robinson | Class of 2021 | DB

The Robinson family has populated the hallways and the football field at McCallie since the early 1940s. Many of their outstanding football careers stand among McCallie’s elite, beginning with famed running back Harry “The Harrycane” Robinson. His brother, Monk, played the same position a mere seven years later. Harry’s sons, Wejun (All Mid-South), Curt (All-City), Dan (All-State, City Scoring Champion), and Mike (All-City), followed in their father’s footsteps. Monk’s sons, George and Monk Jr., played for Pete Potter in the same era as his cousin, Dan. The third generation of Robinsons has been just as successful on the field. Tommy (All-State, #17 Jersey Award), Adams (#17 Jersey Award), Nic “The Crusher,” and Russ Robinson are all members of this well-established family legacy.

“Football doesn’t necessarily build character, but it can reveal it. It’s a tough sport, and if you can rise up to it and embrace it, then you’ve learned something about yourself that you can use later in life.” -Harry “Wig” Robinson

“It seems like there was never another option. We played other sports, but we all played football because that’s who we were. It was kind of in our DNA. We all experienced the Friday night lights and have great memories of it. My mom is a great football fan and knowledgeable about the game. Dad practiced with us anywhere, even on the golf course running routes or practicing our cuts with one brother or another being the tackler. He cared more about instructing us than throwing to us. If he saw you didn’t do something right, he wanted to fix it. He talked to us about specifics on the way home from games also. Sometimes, if it had been an off day, he’d just turn up the elevator music in the station wagon and drive with the windows down. If we got ink on Saturday, he would wake us up with the newspaper in our face.” -Mike Robinson

(above) Gerald Ware in first two photos and Eddie Ware

The Ware Family

Howard & Red Bank | Two Generations

Eddie Paul Ware | Class of 1966 | RB, KR | Howard Gerald Ware | Class of 1991 | RB, SS, KR | Red Bank

No matter if it was the elder or the younger Ware, you didn’t want to face him on the field. Both breakout stars in their own right, this father/son duo was made for the record books. Eddie Paul Ware is considered one of the top running backs in Howard’s school history. People have called him a “bruising back with speed to burn.” His son, Gerald, holds a similar pedigree at Red Bank. Named to the school’s all-time football team for offense, his leadership and skill was known both on and off the field. Following his impressive career at Red Bank, he went on to play at the University of Tennessee.

“My parents moved us to Red Bank when I was in seventh grade. I played football in middle school, and then joined the JV team when I got to high school. I had no idea I was going to play varsity football – all 145 lbs. of me – but coach Weathers came to introduce himself to the team and said, ‘We’re kicking you up to varsity.’ He taught me a lot about leadership. He said, ‘You know, Gerald, kids will follow you. The example you set, and how hard you work. You lead by example.’ My success as an individual came from the success we had as a team.

My dad was a superstar when he played for Howard. One thing I would hear all the time – people would describe how fast he was. They would say the play would start, you’d blink, and he’d be scoring. People called him ‘Fast Eddie.’ His teams were undefeated for very long streaks. In fact, I believe they had one of the longest winning streaks in the country. I grew up hearing about him all the time: how fast he was, how strong he was, how great he was. I think to some degree, that’s why he didn’t talk about it so much. When he came to games, he would let me shine. His presence would be known, but he didn’t hover, and he allowed me to be myself and have my own experience. He’d say, ‘I had my time, and now you’re having yours.’ He didn’t have any expectations and never put pressure on me.” – Gerald Ware

(above) Pete Potter, Jud and Ralph Potter

The Potter Family

McCallie & Red Bank | Three Generations

Pete Potter | Class of 1949 | HB, DB | Red Bank Ralph Potter | Class of 1981 | QB, FS | McCallie Jud Potter | Class 2013 | G | McCallie

If you know football in Chattanooga, you know the Potter family. Pete Potter, a prolific high school football coach for 29 years, boasted a career record of 208-92-4. He began his career as coach of the Brainerd Rebels, leading the team to an undefeated (10-0) season in 1969 that resulted in the team being named No. 3 in the final state poll. Three of his teams won bowl games, and during his time as a coach at McCalllie, he won nearly three times the number of games he lost.

The coaching spirit was passed down to his son Ralph, who began his career in the early 90s. Through time spent at Baylor, Brentwood Academy, and McCallie, he has coached his way to a pair of state runner-up finishes, and a Division II-AA state championship.

Ralph’s son, Jud, played for him in high school, making it clear that each generation has learned from the previous, not only the way to play the game, but also how the game teaches you to be a better person.

“My dad was a high school football coach in Chattanooga for nearly 30 years. Growing up, I always had a great deal of admiration for him, and I learned a lot of what coaching meant from him. When I became a coach, I took on that role with my own son, Jud. He played for me and was a great lineman. He had many other interests, but he knew how much football meant to me, and how special it was to be able to pass on what I had learned from my father, to him. I wanted him to play because I think football is a sport that demands a lot mentally and physically and develops qualities in boys that I wanted him to have.” – Ralph Potter

“Growing up, football always defined the calendar and the work week for the whole family – everything revolved around Friday night. No vacations in the fall, things like that. But I’m extremely appreciative of what it has taught me. I learned from my dad, and I know he got this from his dad, that it’s more of an attitude of mental toughness. Both of them always used their time coaching to help other people and have an impact on the community. They were there for people who not only needed role models, but also just needed to see kindness demonstrated from adults. My dad taught me that you have to live up to your own standards if you want to help others live up to theirs. I’ve watched him walk this fine line his whole life between kindness and support and discipline and consequence. I think that’s something that’s very intrinsically related to coaching.” – Jud Potter

(above) Matt, Jake, Wes, and Johnny Stone, Matt Stone, Jake Stone, Wes Stone

The Stone Family

South Pittsburg | Three Generations

Johnny Stone | Class of 1972 | SE, DE Donnie Stone  | Class of 1974 | OL, DL Jim Morrison  | Class of 1988 | WR, DB Todd Morrison  | Class of 1990 | FB, DB Wes Stone | Class of 1995 | C, DE Roger Mayfield Jr. | Class of 1997 | TE, DE Matt Stone  | Class of 2000 | FB, MLB Jake Stone  | Class of 2013 | QB, FS Jared Stone | Class of 2021 | OG, MLB

Whether playing in the game or coaching on the sideline, the Stone family has had a hand in all five of South Pittsburg’s state championships. Johnny Stone was on the 1969 state championship team; his brother Donnie was a state runner-up in 1974. The second generation saw just as much success. Cousin Jim Morrison played on the state runner-up team in 1985, and again in 1986 alongside his brother, Todd. Then Wes Stone snagged the second state title in 1994, followed just five years later by his brother Matt’s 1999 state championship win. During the span of Wes and Matt Stone’s tenure, cousin Roger Mayfield Jr. carried on the tradition of playing for the pirates. In 2007, Wes was an assistant coach of the fourth state champ team. Now, third generation Jake Stone has been on the 2010 state championship team (while his uncle Wes was coaching), bookended by two state runner-up finishes. His younger brother, Jared, who’s a sophomore now, is on his quest to nab the next. Now, Jake is the head middle school coach, mentoring his brother in the Stone tradition of state titles.

“The birth of my two sons, Wes and Matt, gave me the opportunity to support for them when they played. They were taught team commitment and that quitting was not an option. I implanted the dream of winning a state championship in both of them, and each did so. That dream has been passed to my grandsons as well.” – Johnny Stone

“My family lives and breathes football. Dad always pushed me to work out and get stronger and faster. That same advice still pushes me today. He also taught us to never accept losing. It should hurt but if it does then you will work harder to not lose again. Now it’s about enjoying watching my kids grow up and learn sports. At end of the day life is all about family. Spend as much time with your kids as you can and enjoy the ride.” – Matt Stone

“I was an assistant coach at South Pittsburg in 2007 and 2010 when we won two state titles, and finished state runner-up in 2009, 2011, and 2013. I left for a few seasons, but returned last season when my son, Jared, was a freshman, so we could have that experience together. I want to instill the ‘no quit’ mentality and love of Pirate football in him that my dad instilled in us.” – Wes Stone

“My dad has always encouraged me to push myself and never quit, especially in football. His motto has always been, ‘If you start something, don’t quit until you reach your goal.’ Life is tough, and we all will have certain issues that arise, but I can always refer back to the message my dad instilled in me, to overcome any obstacles I come across.” – Jake Stone

(above) Drew Lyness, The Fairbanks family, Kell Harvey, Skipper Fairbanks, Ben O’Neal

The Fairbanks Family

Red Bank | Three Generations

Skipper Fairbanks | Class of 1952 | QB, LB Gene Fairbanks | Class of 1958 | QB Randy Fairbanks | Class of 1974 | QB Mark Harvey | Class of 1975 | FB Jeff Fairbanks | Class of 1982 | QB Paul McGinnis | Class of 1993 | QB Kell Harvey | Class of 2003 | QB Drew Lyness | Class of 2006 | C Ben O’Neal | Class of 2008 | C, LS

Skipper Fairbanks, his three daughters, three sons-in-law, five grandchildren, and one grandson-in-law have all graduated from Red Bank High School. Woven into the tapestry and history of Red Bank, the Fairbanks’ family tree has grown strong branches across the football field. The family bonds forged on the field range from playing together to coaching each other to refereeing beside one another. Skipper served 20 years as the Red Bank Middle School head football coach where he coached Kell and Ben (grandsons), Paul (grandson-in-law), and coached with Drew (grandson). About five years before he began coaching, Skipper supported Jeff (grandson) during his playing years. Skipper, Gene, Randy, Bill, Mark, and Kell have all officiated football for decades, creating yet another perspective to fortify their football bonds.

“Without sports, our family dynamics would be a little different. Red Bank football started it all the way back with my grandfather, Uncle Mark, and my dad. And it just bled into the lives of me and my cousins. We are all doing different things with our lives now, but I am so thankful for the impact that sports had on our lives then, and the impact it has on our lives now. I’m very proud to have followed in my grandfather’s footsteps and become a coach. He actually gave me my first coaching job – he took a chance on an 18-year-old college freshman, and I will forever be grateful for that. My first year coaching with him was his last before he retired. That’s a really awesome thing to always remember.” – Drew Lyness

“My father, Buster, was a very quiet man, but he attended all of my games and always encouraged me to do my best. I took from that a desire to always help others succeed. I am immensely proud of the fact that all of my children and grandchildren have gone to Red Bank, and so many have found success in the football program.” – Skipper Fairbanks

“Mom and dad were always there at the end of practice, not to hover or coach, but dad just wanted to be a part of it. We’d talk about what he saw. He had played and officiated. He taught me to always focus on work ethic and to lead by doing your best and giving everything you’ve got. It’s not always about how well you played, but the type of effort you put forth. And that applies to life.” – Kell Harvey

(above) Rex Davis, Caleb Davis, Jason Davis, Jeremy Davis, Delane Davis

The Davis Family

Boyd Buchanan | Three Generations

Rex Davis | Class of 1951 | G, LB Delane Davis | Class of 1980 | QB, RB | Boyd Buchanan Jeremy Davis | Class of 2004 | G, LB | Boyd Buchanan Jason Davis | Class of 2005 | LB | Boyd Buchanan Caleb Davis | Class of 2015 | G, LB | Boyd Buchanan 

For the Davis family, football has always been in their blood. Patriarch Rex Davis played for his high school in Arkansas, making it to the state championship game his junior year. Rex’s son, Delane, was a member of the very first Boyd Buchanan varsity football team and helped launch the program that his own sons would play for decades later. While his team may not have experienced a playoff game, they can lay claim to playing in the first football game Boyd Buchanan ever won.

Delane’s two older sons, Jeremy and Jason, played alongside each other at Boyd Buchanan – literally. Both were linebackers who enjoyed sacking quarterbacks in tandem. Their teams made it to three straight state championship games in a row, with one ending in victory. Delane’s youngest, Caleb, played multiple seasons before an injury sidelined him. Though he had to hang his cleats, he still made it to a state final – in robotics.

“I was on the first varsity team that Boyd Buchanan ever had – we were outnumbered and outsized in just about every game we played. My dad always taught us, ‘The true test of character is not how you act when you win, but how you react when you lose. Keep trying your best in the face of disappointment or adversity.’ He was my school principal from kindergarten to twelfth grade, and we lived next to the school, so the ball fields and gym were our playgrounds. Dad played with us every chance he got, and he never missed a Friday night game – he always said that night was reserved for football.” – Delane Davis

“Football was a part of my family growing up, but my dad never pressured us to play. I think that’s why I really enjoyed playing. I never felt I had to live up to someone else. When we played in the yard as kids, he was all-time quarterback for me and my brother. He’d always say, ‘If you can touch it, you can catch it.’ As a linebacker, I didn’t have many passes thrown to me, but I never dropped an interception. It was special for me and my brother to play at Boyd Buchanan with the history of our dad on the same field. We had always heard stories of how good of a running back he was – how he could turn on a dime and how he was nominated for the Scrappy Moore award. His generation began building the program. We played on a field surrounded by big concrete bleachers he and his teammates had to stack during football camp. He always taught us that football was about having fun. If it ceased to be enjoyable, then it wasn’t worth playing.’ – Jeremy Davis

(above) Charles Rogers, Al Rogers, Colton Rogers, Christian Rogers

The Rogers Family

Silverdale Baptist & Ooltewah | Three Generations

Charles Rogers | Class of 1960 | RB, DT | Ooltewah Al Rogers  | Class of 1986| TE, FB | Ooltewah Colton Rogers  | Class of 2014| TE, DE, LB | Silverdale Baptist Christian Rogers  Class of 2017 | TE, LB | Silverdale Baptist

While the gear, positions, and teams have changed over time, football remains a constant in the lives of the Rogers men – it has solidified bonds and imparted life lessons for decades. Charles Rogers was a member of the first Ooltewah varsity football team and served as captain during his years. His son Al earned All-District there during his playing years. When the opportunity to coach the beloved game presented itself to Al at his alma mater, he leapt at it. Today, he coaches at Silverdale Baptist, where, in 2013, he had the honor of coaching sons Colton and Christian to a record of 11-2, the best-ever for the school. Colton was named District Defensive Player of the Year, All-District, and was chosen to play in the TN/GA all-star game during his time at Silverdale. Christian put up some impressive stats as well; he was named All-District as both a linebacker and a receiver, and he received the Best of Preps honor his senior season.

“I was on Ooltewah’s very first football team. We had one coach, a basketball guy, and one assistant who was a teacher. I was the captain of the team, and I got an award each year. Senior year, it was sportsmanship. My son followed in my footsteps and played for Ooltewah when he was in school. I was working for the railroad, so I stayed really busy, but I would always try to be off on Fridays to see Al’s games if I could.” – Charles Rogers

“My dad is from the generation of doing more and talking less. So I didn’t receive much verbal advice, but his hard work ethic helped me get through tough practices and off-season training. I’ve tried to pass that on to my sons. They both played for me at Silverdale. Since I was their coach, I would talk about practice with them and get their opinions. They gave me a lot of great advice that I used. After games, though, I tried to act as the supportive dad, not the critical coach. Though things have changed since my dad and I played, I still think football is the best team sport out there teaching brotherhood, loyalty, tenacity, and toughness both mentally and physically.” – Al Rogers

“Football has brought our family closer together. Playing for my dad was an incredible experience, and I was even able to play with my younger brother when I was a senior. That was nice because it gave my dad another son to yell at [laughs]. When we would leave practice, we’d talk about life, school, girls – just about everything except football. I think this was his way of making sure he didn’t ‘force’ football on us.” – Colton Rogers

(above) Humpy, Barry, Barrett, & Robert, Barry Heywood, Humpy & Barrett, Robert Heywood

The Heywood Family

Baylor School | Three Generations

Coach Humphrey “Humpy” Heywood | Class of 1925 | G Dr. Barry Heywood | Class of 1952 | C | Baylor School Barrett Heywood | Class of 1985 | LB | Baylor School Robert Heywood | Class of 1990 | DT, OT | Baylor School

As Baylor’s head football coach from 1930 to 1960, Humphrey “Humpy” Heywood had an amazing record. He racked up five undefeated and untied seasons (1940, 1944, 1947, 1955, and 1960). His career record at Baylor was 161-20-8, which remains the “winningest varsity football record in Baylor history.” Baylor’s Heywood Stadium, named in his honor, opened in 1971.

Humpy’s son, Dr. Barry Heywood, played for him at Baylor on teams that went a combined 22-4-1 and won city and Mid-South championships in 1950. Barry would later play for Vanderbilt. He served as the football team physician for decades.

Barry’s eldest son, Barrett, began his career under Red Etter and then played for coach Mike Stewart his senior year. From his sophomore through senior year, the Raiders were 15-15 and reached the playoffs once. His brother, Robert, played for coach Fred Hubbs during his career. The Raiders were district champs his senior year, finishing 10-3 and advancing to the third round of the state AAA playoffs.

“My father coached at Baylor, so we lived on campus. We’d come home from class and go right back out and watch practice. He always tried to keep football on the field, but we did talk about practice sometimes, and we would work on how to block and tackle. It seems like we spent more time on how to line up and form than anything else.

Dad would scout other teams in preparation, and I can remember one weekend, about 1950, he got us all up early and loaded us in the car. We drove through the snow to Knoxville to watch the Tennessee vs. Kentucky game. At that time, Bear Bryant was coaching at Kentucky, and dad knew that Central High School’s coach, Red Etter, used a lot of Bryant’s trick plays and such. So we scouted them out from the source!” -Dr. Barry Heywood