SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Head football coach for B.B. Comer Memorial High School, Mike Battles Sr., will not be returning for the 2018-2019 season.
Coach Battles has resigned from the head football coach and athletics director position. Battles will still be a teacher at the school until the end of the year.
“I was told by the principal that I would not be rehired as the football coach for next year,” said Battles. “My wife and I talked it over, and I’m not saying I will retire, but there is a possibility I will.”
In his two years as the head football coach at B.B. Comer, his win/loss record was 7-23. The Tigers scored 541 points, and had 1119 points scored against them.
According to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society, Before he was the coach for B.B. Comer, Battles played football at Southern Miss, where he attended from 1967-1969. He then began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Lincoln High School in 1970. In 1973, he began his career as a head coach, landing the position at Pell City High School. The Panthers finished 5-5 that season.
His coaching career took off when he became the head coach at Irwin County High School in Georgia in 1975. The Indians went 13-0 on the way to a state title the first season. Battles stayed at Irwin County for four years, finishing with a combined record of 30-15. He spent the 1978-1979 season as head coach at Walter Welborn High School in Anniston, Alabama. The team had a winning season leading to the playoffs, finishing 12-7-1.
The next coaching job for Battles was for the Pascagoula High School Panthers in Mississippi for one season in 1981. The team finished 5-7 and lost in the first round of the state playoffs. He returned to Walter Welborn for the 1982 season and remained there for 11 more seasons. The Panthers had a combined record of 21-5 during the 1988-89 seasons. These were Battles’ only back-to-back 10-win campaigns at Welborn.
Battles moved to Hueytown High School in Alabama following the 1992 season. The Golden Gophers finished 19-15 with a semi-final appearance in the 1995 state playoffs. He moved again in 1996 to Gautier, Mississippi. This was the first football team for the school, but that did not seem to matter as the Gators finished 9-0, playing a JV schedule. The next year’s team went 10-0 before losing in the first round of the state playoffs.
In 1998, Battles went to Biloxi High School. In the four seasons he was there, the Indians had a 17-28 record and one playoff appearance in 2001. He returned to Walter Welborn in 2002 for two years. His overall record at Welborn was 115-55-1 with 11 playoff appearances. In 2004, he moved to Handley, where he stayed for 11 years. The Tigers compiled a record of 88-45 with Battles. The 15-0 Tigers won the 2011 State Championship by defeated Madison Academy 20-14.
He took over the football program at B.B. Comer in 2015, where he has been until this year.
Battles is only one of a few coaches who have unbeaten regular seasons in three different states: 13-0 at Irwin County, Georgia; 9-0 and 10-0 in Gautier, Mississippi; and 10-0 at Handley, Alabama.
He is a 32-year coaching veteran in Alabama with a record of 214-135-1. He has compiled a playoff record of 25-16 while his teams are 97-66 in area and region play. His record in other states is 71-48-1, giving him an overall record of 285-183-2 in 42 years as a head coach.
He was named the Class 4A Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association in 2010. He was the coach of the 2012 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
Coaching football runs in the family as his son, Mike Battles Jr. is the head coach of Bibb County High School, and won the 100th game of his coaching career in 2011.
The Tigers will be looking for a new head coach soon. “We will post the position probably towards the middle of this month,” said Principal Judson Warlick. “We would definitely like to get a new coach in before the spring.”
Battles will continue to run the weight program until the new coach starts at B.B. Comer.
“I have coached for five decades. I agree that it’s time for a change here,” said Battles. “I don’t know what my future holds, but I would like to coach two more years. There were things I wanted to accomplish that I haven’t yet. If I don’t get a job, then I won’t.”
Special thanks to David Parker of the Alabama High School Football Historical Society for information on this story.