Monday, February 16, 2015

A Brief History of Pelham High School Football

SEE updates at the end of this post.

            Supporters of football at Pelham High School were no doubt disappointed by the team’s 3-7 finish in the 2014 season. Yet that record has an historical connection; the school’s very first team also finished 3-7.
           Pelham High School opened in September 1974 and fielded its first football team two years later. The first game was played at Shelby County on Saturday, August 28. The schedule that year included several teams each from divisions 3A, 2A and 1A. Pelham’s three wins all came against 1A opponents: Maplesville, Thorsby and Verbena. The losses included a 35-6 one to a 1A team, Isabella. Pelham’s other lopsided losses that season were all to 3A teams: Shelby County, Childersburg and B.B. Comer.
            David Bailey was the head coach of that first team, and he coached three more seasons. His 1979 team finished 5-5, thus becoming Pelham High’s first team with a non-losing season. In his one year in 1980, head coach Steve Rivers’ team also went 5-5. Pelham did not have a winning season until a 6-4 campaign in 1986 in Billy Tohill’s fourth season as head coach.
            The school’s most successful coach has been Rick Rhoades from the 1996 through the 2000 seasons. He posted a 41-19 record and playoff appearances each year.
                Details of all Pelham High School football teams and many others around the state can be found on the Alabama High School Football Historical Society web site .

UPDATE December 12, 2017: Pelham High School football team finished the 2017 regular season 5-5 and lost 49-14 to Spanish Fort in the first round of the AHSAA Class 6A playoff. Nevertheless, the team improved greatly in coach Tim Causey's third year. In 2015 the team went 1-9 and 2-8 in 2016. Pelham football's all-time record through 2017 is 203-239-0.

UPDATE December 4, 2018: Improvement continued this season as the team finished the regular season 7-3. The Panthers did lose to Hartselle 35-7 in the first round of the playoffs. The season was the first winning one since 2013 and their first seven win season since 2013. 

UPDATE August 30, 2019: At a game against Bibb County Pelham honored 1988 graduate and head football coach at Clemson Dabo Swinney. 

UPDATE November 1, 2019: Pelham finished the season at 3-7, but managed to win three of its last four games. 


  1. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot!

    1. Thanks for your comments! I enjoy doing these random pieces; more to come....