BUFORDGAWOLVES Posted May 8, 2018 Report Share Posted May 8, 2018 CCredandgold (2413) 136 months 57 minutes ago Reply Quote Well it must of been the milk cartons! Thanks for asking about my school's history in football. People in their late 40's and mid 50's can appreciate what a football town Athens was back in the early 80's with the success of both UGA and Clarke Central, all in part to two great coaches, Vince Dooley and Billy Henderson. Clarke Central's success started with a state championship victory in 1977, over a Valdosta team led by QB Buck Belue. Coach Henderson had built a football juggernaut in just six seasons after the merger of Athens High School (whites) and Burney-Harris High School (blacks) which formed Clarke Central in 1970. Coach Henderson not only built a stellar football program, but he united a community that was going through major changes. Clarke Central would strike gold again two years later in 1979 with another state championship win over Tift County. This win pretty much put Clarke Central on the Georgia High School Football landscape. Nothing but state championship appearances would be expected from here on out. Clarke would make the playoffs the next 5 years straight, with (3) Region Championships, and would reach the state finals again in 1984, but lose to Valdosta 14-7. Then came 1985, probably the best team ever at Clarke Central, a team that would field (33) eventual scholarship winners, (3) NFL stars in Willie Green - WR, Chuck Smith - DE, and John Kasay - K, and their now current head coach David Perno who played fullback. The tight end was Derek Dooley...and the list goes on and on. Clarke would go 15-0 that season and defeat Warner Robins 21-7. The Gladiators would reach the state championship again the following season in 1986, but bow out to Valdosta 28-0. Clarke would reach the state championship game two more times during Coach Henderson's tenure, in 1989 & 1992 but lose both games to you guessed it, Valdosta. Coach Henderson would coach until the 1995 season. During his 23 years as head coach, Coach Henderson won 3 State Championships, 12 Region Championships and make 18 state playoff appearances. After Coach Henderson's departure in 1996, Athens had started to change in many ways. More kids were electing to play at other schools like nearby Oconee County, Athens Christian and Athens Academy. When Coach Henderson retired, Clarke was still very competitive, but you could see some slipping happening. Now as the 2000's approached, even more school options became available for Athens kids. Players started heading for Prince Avenue Christian, North Oconee, Jefferson...all to get a chance to play. Clarke went from dressing out between 90-100 kids to barely dressing out 50. Coach Leroy Ryals brought back some energy from 2007-2012, reaching the state championship in 2009, losing to Sandy Creek in The Dome 29-15. Ryals would leave, but not before getting the numbers back up and getting the enthusiasm back. Clarke stayed competitive and then turned to David Perno. Perno took over in 2016, and brought back some of the stuff he learned playing for Coach Henderson. Not so much the X's and the O's...but the desire, the passion, and the will to do what it takes to win. Clarke has reached the playoffs in both of Coach Perno's first two seasons, and appear to be trending upward. Still GREAT to be a GLADIATOR! RIP Coach Henderson...or as most everyone that new him would just call him, BILLY! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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