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December 2, 2005John McKissick already is the all-time winningest high school football coach in history.
But, Saturday afternoon, the 79-year-old mentor at Summerville, S.C., has a chance to add another jewel to his remarkable 54-year coaching resume.
If the Green Wave prevails in its Class 4A-Big 16 title game against Gaffney, McKissick would become the first mentor to guide state championship teams in six different decades.
McKissick, who turned 79 in September, started coaching at Summerville in 1952 and has won 10 state crowns and at least one in five straight decades. His last title came in 1998 when the Green Wave finished with a 15-0 record.
This season, Summerville takes a 12-2 mark into the finals which gives McKissick an all-time best 531 wins while losing 126 with 123 ties. No coach on any level--high school, college or professional, has won as many games.
The sustained level of success, winning and titles, is a remarkable feat for a coach who started at Summerville two years after legendary Penn State mentor Joe Paterno began his Nittany Lion stint as an assistant coach.
There have been only a few high school coaches, in any sport, who have won state titles in five different decades.
One is the late Ralph Tasker, who died in 1999--one year after he retired after a boys basketball coaching career which started in 1941 and ended in Hobbs, N.M., with 1,122 victories. Tasker's teams won 11 state titles in five different decades with the final being in 1988.
Cleaning out the notebook:
(1) One of Ohio's winningest all-time coaches has retired. He's Al Hetrick, who coached at Versailles High since 1968. The 65-year-old Hetrick sported a record of 334-95-4 with six state championships, three state runnersup and 18 conference championships.
(2) Two more coaches last weekend joined the 300-victory career plateau. They were Bob Schneider at Covington (Ky.) Catholic and Vinny O'Connor at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, N.Y.
(3) Jake Sharp, a University of Kansas recruit at Salina (Kan.) Central, capped an unbeaten state title season with two single season state records: 63 TDs and 3,297 rushing yards in 13 games.
(4) Delone Carter of Copley, Ohio, earned state Mr. Football honors after posting impressive numbers in 12 games this season. The University of Syracuse recruit rushed 302 times for 2,788 yards and scored 49 touchdowns. Carter, incidentally, played behind the 2004 Mr. Football Tyrell Sutton in 2002-03 while attending Hoban High in Akron. Sutton was one of the nation's top freshman running backs this season at Northwestern University.