He was the biggest name in high school coaching in Alabama in the 1960s and 70s. His teams dominated like few have done in the great football history of the state.
Mac Champion passed away this past week. He was a unique man and one of the first cerebral coaches who always seemed to be able to somehow outsmart the opponent. He loved the game and the generations of players that he coached and influenced.
Mac Champion was an All State quarterback at Hayneville in 1952 and 1953. He next journeyed to Auburn University where he was a back up quarterback on Auburn’s 1957 National Championship squad. There he learned the T formation and how to read the outside veer with the fullback.
No coach in the history of Alabama high school football ever had a better beginning to his career than Mac Champion. It was truly a dominating performance. It was obvious that this man from tiny Hayneville knew some things that no other coach had discovered.
In 1962, he was hired as the head coach at his alma mater at age 26. Although a small Class 1A school, Coach Champion led Hayneville to a 39-1 record and won 34 games in a row. His 1963 team went 10-0 and was named state champion by the Birmingham News and the Montgomery Advertiser. In an era where games were often defensive battles, Coach Champion’s 1963 team averaged almost 50 points per game. Hayneville outscored their opponents by a margin of 521-19.
His 1964 Hayneville squad also went 10-0 and was crowned state champions. During his four years as the Hayneville coach, he lost only on one game by one point. Of the 39 victories, he won all but four by at least 3 touchdowns.
The school at Hayneville closed in 1966 and Champion started the Lowndes Academy program from scratch. In four years there, his teams went 36-3, with 2 of the 3 losses coming at the hands of much bigger Lee of Montgomery and Meridian Ms High School. His 1968 team won the AHSAA 1A Championship.
In the fall of 1970, Champion left to coach at Monroe Academy in the first year of the AISA. More domination followed. The Vols won 4 of the first 5 state championships and his 5 year record was 61-3-1. His Monroe Academy teams did not lose a game until August 31, 1973.
In the first 13 years he coached, Mac Champion had an amazing record of 136-7-1, won 8 state titles and had 9 undefeated teams.
Coaching in the era of option football, many considered him to be an offensive genius. Champion would run the outside read play over and over again, blocking it several different ways. In the age of time possession football, his teams would keep the ball for much of the game, frustrating his opponents.
He went on to coach at Homewood, Elba, Morgan Academy, Mary Montgomery and UMS Wright.
In 1986 he took over the Samson football program. In what might be his most amazing coaching job, Coach Champion took over a team that went 0-10 in 1985. In 1987 he lead the Tigers to a 10-0 regular season. Samson finished 13-1, falling to Reeltown in the state title game. He would finish his career by returning to Lowndes Academy for a 6 year stint, and two seasons at Highland Home. His ’93 Lowndes team went 11-2 and made it to the AISA finals.
Mac Champion’s career mark was 255-77-1. In 30 years as a head coach he had only 2 losing seasons.
In spent his later years in his beloved Lowndes County, spending time with family, loving the Lord and Auburn football.
There will always be a debate about who is the greatest coach in Alabama’s long high school football history. But you can’t have the conversation without including Mac Champion.