It was a record that had stood for 60 years – 100 wins, the most in Guntersville football history – set by Hall of Fame coach Joe Chorba from 1948 to 1960.
Now, after all these years, Coach Chorba no longer sits alone when it comes to the most wins in Wildcat history.
Current coach Lance Reese tied Coach Chorba’s long-standing record last Friday night. He will likely surpass it when the Wildcats host Crossville Friday night.
The 100th win came in a 55-0 dismantling of Lawrence County by Guntersville. The score was perhaps fitting on the night of records. It was after all Coach Chorba’s ’55 Wildcat team that was his most fabled, amassing a perfect 10-0 record and claiming a share of the mythical state championship.
The record has been a long time coming for Coach Reese. The Cullman native started as an assistant with Guntersville in 1991 and coached under Phil Lazenby, Jay Brown and Phil Isom as an assistant before taking over the head coach’s job in 2010. Coach Reese was the defensive coordinator on Guntersville’s 2006 team under Coach Isom.
Coach Reese downplayed his own role in getting to the 100 wins.
“Tonight is a testament to the tradition and history that is Guntersville football,” Coach Reese said. “To be mentioned in the same breath as Coach Chorba is a huge honor. This is not about me. A lot of players and a lot of coaches put in a lot of hard work for us to reach this milestone.”
The coach’s long-tenure was evident during the on-field celebration after the game. Friends, family, colleagues and more greeted the coach.
Chris Bryan – who was on Coach Reese’s very first Guntersville team in ’91 – was among those giving the coach a congratulatory hug, Bryan’s son Cole is a senior on this year’s Wildcat team.
The coach said working under Lazenby, Brown and Isom had made him a better coach and he thanked them for their influence in his life. Coach Isom was present at Friday’s game.
Coach Reese also thanked the current assistant coaches. Guntersville has enjoyed remarkable continuity in retaining its coaching staff year after year.
“I enjoy working with our assistant coaches every day,” Coach Reese said. “They don’t just work with me. They are my friends and they are good men.”
Coach Reese’s family shared in his joy on his night of nights, wife Melissa, daughters Laine and Loren, his parents Randall and Sherrie Reese and his son-in-law Aron Moss, who coaches defensive backs and receivers for Coach Reese.
Melissa watched Lance as far back as when he played at Cullman. She has missed just three of his games when he was coaching either as an assistant or a head coach – once when it was stormy and he didn’t want her to go and twice when the girls were in high school and playing in out-of-town volleyball tournaments.
Like a lot of coaches’ wives, it still makes her a nervous wreck to watch one of his games.
Supt. Jason Barnett presented a plaque to Coach Reese at the conclusion of Friday night’s game. As soon as he handed it off, a tremendous yell went up from the players and they enveloped their coach in a mighty embrace.
A couple of Wildcats tried to dump a cooler of water on Coach Reese, but he was nimble of foot and mostly evaded their efforts.
Coach Joe Chorba – the former Crimson Tide player and World War II veteran whom the GHS stadium is named for – will remain a cherished figure in the hearts of the Wildcat faithful. But another coach, Lance Reese, has now joined the pantheon of Wildcat legend.