There are plenty of stories on the Internet announcing the possible retirement of Summerville (S.C.)
coach John McKissick. But there are also plenty of stories on the Internet about the existence of Bigfoot, and the salient truth about both topics is this: Don't believe it until you see it.
According to his Wikipedia page, McKissick was planning to retire following the 2011 season. However the Charleston Post and Courier reports that McKissick begins his 61st year as head coach of the Summerville Green Wave and he is closing in on an all-time milestone. After an 8-5 season in 2011, McKissick is just six wins away from career victory No. 600.
How amazing is 600 wins for a high school football coach? Consider that McKissick became the nation's all-time winningest coach when he won his 406th game. That was back in 1993. He's added nearly another 200 wins to that total - a lifetime of wins for most coaches.
Consider that he has nearly 100 more wins than his nearest competitor, Curtis (River Ridge, La.) coach John Curtis, who surpassed a milestone of his own last year when he became just the second coach to win 500 games.
Consider that McKissick has been coaching one year longer than he's been married. And this year he will celebrate 60 years of marriage to his wife Joan.
Finally, consider that McKissick has coached long enough to quiet one skeptic who never thought he had a chance of winning 600: himself. After cracking a vertebra and having a pacemaker inserted about eight years ago, McKissick speculated on the rest of his career in an interview with USA Today.
"I'll be here as long as I can give them a good day's work," he told USA Today writer Jennifer Kushlis in 2005. "But I wouldn't imagine, with my health, I'll make it to 600 wins."
But it's hard to keep a good man down, and McKissick has a chance to win No. 600, possibly as early as Sept. 28, just three days after his 86th birthday. That would mean a win over No. 1-ranked Goose Creek on Sept. 7 as well as a victory over West Ashley, a team that defeated Summerville last season.
A more realistic date would be Oct. 12 at Beaufort or possibly Oct. 19 at home against Colleton County (Walterboro). Since McKissick has had just two losing seasons in his 60 years of coaching, it's not hard to believe that win No. 600 is only a few months away.
McKissick easily tops the list of the active winningest coaches heading into the 2012 season. Here's a list of the top 10 and how their teams should fare for the upcoming season.1. John McKissick, Summerville (S.C.)
594-143-13, beginning 61st year (8-5 last year)
The Green Wave begin the season ranked No. 17 in the state according to the MaxPreps Freeman Ratings, so an 11th state championship for McKissick is unlikely. However, the Green Wave reached the third round of the playoffs last season and could contend for McKissick's 35th career region title. Feature story2. J.T. Curtis, Curtis (River Ridge, La.)
44th year, 506-54-6 (14-0)
The most serious threat to McKissick's all-time record, Curtis has coached 17 fewer seasons but he is within 88 wins of McKissick's total. After a 14-0 season in 2011, Curtis is favored to win another state championship this year. The Patriots begin the season ranked No. 6 in the MaxPreps Preseason Xcellent 25 Rankings
. Consistency is the word to describe coach Curtis. His teams have won 24 state championships since 1975 and has won at least 12 games in 25 seasons since 1975. Feature story3. Larry Campbell, Lincoln County (Lincolnton, Ga.)
41st year, 459-79-3 (12-1)
With an average of more than 11 wins a season for his 40 years as head coach, Campbell could become the third coach to hit 500 wins sometime around 2015. His 2011 squad helped add to the total with 12 straight wins last year before falling to Savannah Christian in the third round of the playoffs. A Class A school in Georgia, Lincoln County is favored to win the
A Region 7 championship again this season.
4. Mike Smith, Hampton (Va.)
42nd year, 426-69-2 (9-3)
The Hampton Crabbers last won a state championship in 2005 but they have been in the mix ever since and figure to be again this year under Smith, who has won 12 state championships in his tenure. Hampton reached the second round of the playoffs last season, falling to Norcom. Expect Hampton to win at least eight games this season. The Crabbers have not won fewer than eight games at any time in the past decade.5. George Curry, Berwick (Pa.)
43rd year, 413-91-5 (did not coach in 2011)
A coaching legend at Berwick, where he guided the Bulldogs to three mythical national championships, George Curry comes out of retirement on a one-year interim basis to replace Gary Campbell, who stepped down after last year's 9-3 campaign. Curry previously won 387 games at Berwick before leaving in 2005. He coached three seasons at Wyoming Valley West (26-8) and retired in 2008. Curry's grandson C.J. is reportedly a quarterback candidate for this year's squad.6. Corky Rogers, Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.)
42nd year, 411-71-1 (13-1)
Rogers could move into fifth place on the all-time coaching wins list, depending on how his team does compared to Curry's Berwick squad. Rogers currently ranks seventh all-time with the recently retired G.A. Moore of Texas sitting in between Smith and Curry with 423 career victories in 45 seasons (423-97-9). Rogers was one of three coaches last year to surpass the 400-win milestone. His Bolles squad captured the Florida Class 4A championship. Winners of five state championships since 2004, Bolles is a favorite again in the state thanks to 12 returning starters.7. Al Fracassa, Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
53rd year, 405-115-7 (10-4)
It looked a little touchy as to whether or not Fracassa would get to win No. 400 last year as his squad finishied with a 1-3 conference record. But Brother Rice won six straight games to finish the season and won the Michigan Division 2 state championship. The Warriors begin the season ranked No. 5 in the state and Fracassa has 12 starters back from last year's championship team.
8. Robert Paroli, Seventy-First (Fayetteville, N.C.)
55th year, 403-210 (4-7)
Needing just one win to reach the 400-win milestone last season, Paroli's squad lost its first four games of the season before getting the memorable victory with a 24-14 triumph over E.E. Smith (Fayetteville, N.C.). Paroli added three other wins last year to put him just behind Fracassa, who passed Paroli on the all-time list last season.9. Dick Tighe, St. Edmond (Fort Dodge, Iowa)
59th year, 391-152-8 (9-2)
Only McKissick has coached high school football longer than Tighe, who could become just the 11th coach in high school football history to win 400 games. He is just nine wins away from the milestone, a win total his squad achieved last year in reaching the postseason. A state title contender again this year, St. Edmond ranks No. 7 in Iowa Class A to start the season. The march toward No. 400 begins Friday against Bishop Garrigan (Algona).10. John Herrington, Harrison (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
43rd year, 386-88-1 (10-1)
After winning the first 10 games of the 2011 season, Harrison's season came to an early end in the playoffs with a loss to Fracassa's Brother Rice team. Harrison figures to be in the mix again this year, considering Herrington has won at least 10 games in a season in 24 of his 42 seasons. He's also produced 13 state champions during that streak with nine undefeated seasons.Bonus: Bob Ladouceur, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
34th year, 384-24-3
If not for the return of George Curry at Berwick, Ladouceur would rank No. 10 among active coaches for career wins despite coaching 10-20 fewer seasons than his colleagues. Among coaches with at least 300 wins, only Ladouceur has a winning percentage better than 90 percent (.936). Since 1984, Ladouceur has won fewer than 11 games only once (8-3-2 in 2004) and he has put together 19 unbeaten seasons. To put McKissick's record in perspective, however, Ladouceur, who has averaged 12 wins a season, would need to average 12 wins a year for the next 18 years to pass the Summerville coach.