In the span of any given offseason, a state is sure to lose at least one football coaching legend. That's a sheer numbers issue, with young coaches coming in to take the place of retiring famous names every year.
Yet, this offseason was a bit more tragic that usual in Georgia, where a whopping seven former state champion football coaches passed away from the time after the 2010 season wrapped up to the time when practice for the 2011 season kicked off.
As chronicled by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Georgia High School Football Daily, that seven-part list is highlighted by Luther Welsh, who finished as the fourth most-winning coach in Georgia high school football history. Welsh, who coached at Thomson (Ga.) High, won state titles in 1984, 1985 and 2002.
While Welsh may have been the most notable name on the list, particularly given Thomson's regional title under his guidance in 2010, former Washington (Ga.) Wilkes High coach Charlie Davidson won more state titles than any other recently deceased head man. Davidson won titles in 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1967.
Meanwhile, Bill Saunders left the earth as the most legendary coach in the Savannah region, helping Savannah (Ga.) Country Day School earn the program's only state title in 1969, which remains the only Georgia state title ever won by any Savannah school, according to Georgia High School Football Daily.
The sundry accomplishments of the other four men who are no longer with us are almost too lengthy to list as well, and it does a disservice to try and encapsulate them all, so it's best to check out this more lengthy story here. Still, in the interest of getting them at least some share of the recognition they deserve, here are all seven of the deceased Georgia state champion coaches, along with the schools they led to state titles.
• Luther Welsh, Thomson High (1984, 1985, 2002)
• Branch Bragg, Rome (Ga.) Coosa High (1961, 1969)
• Thomas Bunch, Lincolnton (Ga.) High (1962, 1963)
• Bill Conley, Lovett (Ga.) High (1970)
• Charlie Davidson, Washington-Wilkes High (1960, 1963, 1966, 1967)
• Bill Saunders, Savannah Country Day School (1969)
• Weyman Sellers, Athens (Ga.) High (1955, 1969)