High-SchoolFootball: Coach J.T. Curtis

Coach J.T. Curtis of John Curtis (River Ridge, La.) in now in the exclusive 500-win club and has led his  Patriots to 23 state titles over the years.  Patrick Semansky/APCoach J.T. Curtis consoles his team after losing the Class 2A championship in New Orleans in 2010. He has coached his team to 23 state titles over the years.
There are now two members of the exclusive “500 Club.”

With a 49-6 win over Clark (New Orleans) on Thursday night for John Curtis Christian School (River Ridge, La.), head coach J.T. Curtis became just the second coach in high school football history to reach the 500-win threshold. Curtis joins John McKissick of Summerville (Summerville, S.C.) as the only coaches at any level -- high school, college or professional – to have amassed as many wins. McKissick, 85, has won a record 592 victories since 1952 entering his team's home game Friday against Beaufort (Beaufort, S.C.).

In the fall of 1969, after taking over for his father as head coach, the Patriots went 0-10. Only six players showed up to his first practice that summer. Since then, Curtis hasn’t had another losing season. The staggering success he and his teams have sustained over the years is well supported by the numbers. Now in his 43rd year at the helm of the program, his Patriots have won at least 10 games and made the playoffs for the past 35 seasons in a row. They have won 23 state titles, with the first coming in 1975, just six seasons removed from that winless first campaign. In each decade since 1980, he has led the Patriots to at least six state titles.

Curtis and his resilient team, school and community were the focus of a 2007 book that detailed their unique experience in recovering from the resonating influence of Hurricane Katrina (you can read an excerpt of the book here).

It’s always been a family affair in the winning program, as the 15-person coaching staff is stocked with eight family members. Curtis is also the school’s headmaster and an ordained minister in the tradition of his father, John, Sr., the school’s founder. A man of many leadership roles, you can find Curtis preaching on campus on Sundays or hosting a popular Friday night football television program that airs in New Orleans.

A legendary coach and leader added to his legacy on Thursday night, joining one of the most prestigious coaching clubs.

All-time career coaching wins leaders

October, 26, 2011
Most coaching wins in American high school football history (as of Oct. 27, 2011)

592 -- John McKissick, Summerville (Summerville, S.C.), 1952-active
500 -- J.T. Curtis, John Curtis (River Ridge, La.), 1969-active
455 -- Larry Campbell, Lincoln County (Lincolnton, Ga.), 1972-active
425 -- G.A. Moore Jr., Aubrey (Aubrey, Texas) (earlier Texas schools; Celina, Sherman, Pilot Point, Bryson), 1962-70, 1972-active
425 -- Mike Smith, Hampton (Hampton, Va.), 1971-active
413 -- George Curry, Berwick (Berwick, Pa.) (other Pa. schools; Plymouth, Wyoming Valley West, Lehman, Lehman-Lake), 1967-2008
412 -- Jack Holley, Wallace-Rose Hill (Teachey, N.C.) (other N.C. schools; Tabor City, Hallsboro, South Columbus, Harrells Christian Academy),1964-2010
405 -- Pete Adkins, Jefferson City (Jefferson City, Mo.) (also Centralia, Mo.), 1951-94
405 -- Charles “Corky” Rogers, Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.), 1968-active
402 -- Robert Paroli, Seventy-First (Fayetteville, N.C.) (earlier N.C. schools; Fayetteville Douglas Byrd, Burlington Cummings, Wilson Fike, Jacksonville, Benson), 1958-active
400 -- Al Fracassa, Brother Rice (Birmingham, Mich.), 1963-active
395 -- Gordon Wood, Brownwood (Brownwood, Texas) (earlier Texas schools Victoria, Stamford, Winters, Seminole, Roscoe, Haskell, Rule), 1940-85
390 -- Dick Tighe, St. Edmond (Fort Dodge, Iowa) (earlier Iowa schools Iowa Falls, Webster City, Carroll Kuemper Catholic), 1954-active
385 -- John Herrington, Harrison (Farmington Hills, Mich.), 1970-active
383 -- Willie Varner, Woodruff (Woodruff, S.C.), 1954-96
381 -- Ron Holtman, Marquette (Alton, Ill.) and Mary Institute-Country Day (St. Louis, Mo.), 1955-2004
379 -- Bob Lutz, Ironton (Ironton, Ohio), 1969-active
377 -- Bob Ladouceur, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.), 1979-active
375 -- Victor Paternostro, Pope John XXIII (Sparta, N.J.), 1968-2010
374 -- Phil Danaher, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas),1974-active