Mike Battles, Sr. truly spent a lifetime coaching high school football. His career spanned 3 states, 47 years, state championships and undefeated regular seasons in all 3 states. His influence was so great that one school hired him to lead their program three different times.
A native of Sylacauga, Battles lettered three years playing football at Southern Miss from 1967-69 playing under Than Vann and P.W. “Bear Underwood. He started his coaching career as an assistant at Lincoln High school in 1970. His first head coaching job was at Pell City where he went 5-5 in his only season there in 1973.
In 1975, Battles went to Irwin County High School in Georgia. His first team won all 13 games and the Georgia state championship. He spent four seasons in Georgia before returning to Alabama to become the head coach at Walter Wellborn. He would coach at the school three different times. In his first stint with the Panthers, he went 12-7-1 but made the playoffs one season, a difficult thing to do in the late 70’s.
In 1981, he decided to try Mississippi and landed the head job at Pascagoula High School where he went 5-7. The following season he returned to Walter Wellborn. Coach Battles would stay for 11 seasons. In 1988-89 the Panthers had back to back 10 win seasons, going 21-5. He had only one losing season, his last at Wellborn in 1992.
The next stop for Coach Battles was Hueytown High School. His teams there went 19-15, but made it all the way to the semi finals in 1995. He then returned to Mississippi, starting the program at Gautier with a JV team. His first varsity team went 9-0 before losing the first round of the playoffs. He stayed in the state, moving to Biloxi High School for four seasons.
His final tour of duty at Walter Wellborn was in 2002 and 2003. In 15 seasons with the Panthers, he teams went 115-55-1 with 11 playoff appearances. In 2004 he took on the job at Handley High School for 11 years. From 2007-2011, his Tiger teams won at least 10 games each season. It culminated in 2011, where his team went 15-0 and defeated Madison Academy for the 3A state football championship.
In 2015 he took over the program at B.B. Comer, which was suffering for success. He kept them alive, winning 7 games over three seasons. He retired following the 2017 season, after nearly a half century coaching high school football.
Coach Battles influenced many young men, had many players go into coaching and become a coaching legend in our state. He was the ALFCA and ASWA Coach of the Year in 2010 and coached in the 2012 Alabama- Mississippi All Star game.
The Alabama Football Coaches Association is proud to present its Lifetime Achievement Award to Coach Mike Battles.