MONTGOMERY –In Coach Wayne Grant’s first tenure as head football coach Pike County High School, he taught the players how to become a champion. When he returned a second time after a six-year hiatus, he did it again.
His extraordinary ability to mold youngsters into greatness is a chief reason he is one of 12 individuals being inducted in the Class of 2017 at this year’s banquet March 20 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6:30 p.m.
A native of Jack in Coffee County just outside Troy, Grant graduated from Zion Chapel High School in 1972 and Troy University in 1976. He was an outstanding football player at both institutions. He also holds a master’s degree in biology education and AA certificate in biology from Troy.
He began his teaching and coaching career at his alma mater at Zion Chapel in 1976, serving as a varsity football assistant. He spent 1977 at Louisville High School in the same position. In 1978 he went to Lowndes Academy as head coach and compiled a 7-3 record. In 1979 he returned to college, completing his master’s degree.
His career took off in earnest in 1980 when he accepted an assistant football coaching positon at Pike County High school. After two years, he was promoted to head coach. He would spend a total of 19 years in that job, first a 10-year term and then returning later for an additional nine years. The result was a record of 197-52 and five state championships.
His second year at Pike County he also served as junior high school coach, producing a record of 7-0. It was a sign of things to come
Over the next 10 years he had nine winning seasons, including five with 10 or more wins. The 1988 and 1989 teams both finished with 13-2 records and back-to-back state championships – the first in Pike County High School history.
In 1992 he moved to Talladega High School where he remained for six years, compiling three winning seasons and an overall record of 27-37.
After a year at Goshen as an assistant, he returned to Pike County. All nine of his teams had winning records, with six of them winning 11 or more games. The 2003 and 2006 state champion teams finished with 14-1 records. The 2005 team ran the table at 15-0. Coach Grant’s overall record for the second stay at Pike County was 100-19.
His AHSAA totals were 231-93, 11 seasons with 10 or more wins, 11 region championships and 19 postseason appearances. His playoff record was 44-14. He also coached in three all-star games, winning all three.
Brundidge Mayor James R. Ramage III said that when Coach Grant came to the city in 1980, it was after a difficult transition period in the 1970s. He said the community was “together but really we were still separate.” Grant helped change that.
“His leadership qualities were soon appreciated as he became the head football coach and our school took pride in the product they saw on Friday nights. Our entire school system began to raise the bar of achievement not only on the field but also in the classroom. This pride took roots in our town as we became one in support of our school.
“During Coach Grant’s tenure, our community’s discipline issue in our youth began to improve. The chief of police and I have discussed many times that we did not and still do not have the problems some communities are experiencing in this area. We have seen many of our students that were lost socially and behind in their education began to take pride in themselves and make good decisions for their future. We now have a large group of students and players that are productive citizens became they crossed Coach Grant’s path.
“The impact that Coach Wayne Grant had on Brundidge cannot be expressed in a letter, but I hope it gives the sense of what this man has done for our school and city. We see the results every day as we interact with his former students, some doctors, lawyers, teachers, members of our armed forces, and, of course, our citizens that make our city function.”
Dr. Clint T. Foster cited Grant’s influence on students in the classroom:
“I have had the opportunity to serve with Coach Grant in many capacities. First and foremost, he was an excellent science teacher. He, along with other science teachers, played a significant role in a plethora of students, including myself, to pursue science careers at every level, [including] medical research-oriented doctors, nurses and other related fields.
“Secondly, I had the opportunity to participate in football under his leadership. As an athlete I learned early to respect others and have the same respect for my school and community. Growing up in a small town with limited resources, it was easy to find trouble. More specifically, it was easier to follow in the footsteps of older individuals and give in to drugs and alcohol. Football in Brundidge was sub-par at best and had limited interest from student-athletes and the community. Simply put, we were the laughing stock of football in the entire state…. Coach Grant and his staff changed the complexity of football and other athletics in Brundidge. Since the tenure of Coach Grant as athletic director and head football coach, Pike County High School has been recognized and respected by every classification throughout the state in football and athletics.”
Wednesday: Sixth & seventh installments of the Hall of Fame series: Austin Basketball Coach Bob Harpe and Benjamin Russell Football Coach Danny Horn.