Members of the Jackson County High School Athletics Hall of Fame
1930 Basketball Team
The 1930 Braselton High School Basketball team is remembered as one of the best teams in the history of Georgia High School basketball and one of the best of all time in the country. Coming of a runner-up finish in the 1929 State Tournament by one point to Vienna, the B’s took the court with a vengeance in 1930 compiling a 34-0 record thru the State finals. After defeating Lagrange to win the State title, the team was invited to participate in the National High School basketball tournament in Chicago directed by Amos Alonzo Stagg. Braselton advanced to the quarter finals by defeating Kavanaugh High school of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky and South High School of Minneapolis, Minnesota, before falling by 1 point to St. Johns High School of Delafield, Wisconsin. During the season, the team dominated its opponents by an aggregate score of 1,038 points to 470. The team had several players who received individual honors including A.P. Rice and Estel Archer who were all state, Grady Thrasher second team All American, and Jack Boggs All American and 1st team National tournament team. The team was inducted into the Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
1951 Basketball Team
The 1951 Braselton Boys basketball team is remembered for its hustle, grit, exciting play, and winning the State Championship. The team lost only one game to eventual 9th District Champion Statham during the regular season but did defeat them at home later in the year to run their record to 30-1. After advancing to the State tournament as 9th District runner-up, the team pulled off four upset victories in route to Braselton’s second state title. They defeated undefeated Rosemont in the State Championship game 57 to 49 in front of over 3,000 fans in Macon, including most of the Braselton Student body and town that made the 100 mile trip to see the team play in the finals. A reporter asks Coach J.W. “Frog” Jackson how he planned to beat the unbeatable to that point Rosemont team. He responded “by out running and out shooting them”. The team’s final 36-2 record is tied for the most wins in a season in Braselton basketball history with the 1930 team.
1964 Basketball Team
The 1963-64 Jackson County High School Boys Basketball team will be remembered as arguably the greatest pre-integration teams in Georgia High School Basketball History and one of the best in any era… During the 1961-64 seasons, the Panthers compiled a stunning 124-13 record including 4- 8C Region Titles. They team also had an 8-4 record in the State tournament during that time span finishing the 1962 Season as State Runner up. The Panthers were undefeated at home during this 4 year run.
The 1964 team posted a record of 33 wins against one defeat on their way to winning the State Championship. The Panthers defeated West Haralson, Jones County (OT), Calhoun Count, and Aidan 68-62 in the Championship game to secure the State Crown. During the Championship season the Panthers defeated many larger schools with the average margin of victory in double digits. Included in those victories was a 26 game win streak that saw a 73-47 victory in Braselton over Hart County the 1964 AAA State Champions. The Panthers lone loss came at the hands of Dawson County 79-73. Jackson County would avenge that loss with a 91-63 victory in the Region Championship game to earn their 4th consecutive trip to Macon
1986 Football Team
The 1986 Panther Football team will be remembered for its toughness, never say die attitude, and teamwork. The 86 team was the first team that was truly representative of all of Jackson County with players as both starters and reserves from each community throughout the County. After a tough start, the team rebounded winning 5 of 6 games to qualify for the State playoffs. The team traveled to Buford and upset the #1 seed from 8A south to secure the programs first playoff berth and victory. They advanced to the second round before falling in the Region final to eventual final four participate Commerce. The team finished 8th in the final 1986 standings in Class A. The 86 Panthers won with defense, great special teams, and a ball control offense. During the season, the team united the Panther nation and provided a level of excitement never before seen that put Jackson County on a path of success in football for next several years. Historically, the team is still the best statistical defensive team in school history yielding an average of 9.7 per game. Several players on the team also played and starred in other sports with 2 members of the team making all state honors in football in their careers. The JCCHS Hall of Fame Committee is proud to add all players and coaches of the 1986 Panther Football team to the Hall of Fame.
Ryan was a 2010 graduate and a 3 sport letterman in wrestling, track and field, and football for the Panthers. His notable high school achievements in wrestling include; qualifying for the Georgia State tournament four times, winning 2 area and sectional titles, and a State title in 2009. He holds several career records including victories, pins, overall career record, and best winning percentage. In football, Ryan was a starter for 3 seasons earning All- Region in 2008 & 2009 and made the All-Northeast Georgia team in 2008. He was selected team Captain for his senior season in 2009. In track, he competed in several relay events and the high jump while helping the team to set a new school record in the 4X800 relay in 2007. As an outstanding student and athlete, Ryan received a nomination to the United States Air Force Academy where he graduated in 2016.
A 2011 Graduate with a 4.0 GPA, Brittany was the model of a scholar athlete. She qualified for State in Cross Country all four years of her high school career and was selected All-State her junior and Senior years. She set school records in the 5K and 3200m. Upon graduation, Brittany received a scholarship to Brenau University and become one of the most celebrated athletes in school history. She was the first runner to represent the University at the NAIA Nationals in her freshmen year. She was named to the Southern States Athletic Conference All- freshman team, as well as, the SSAC All-Conference team three times in college. In 2013, Brittany won the 10,000m and 5000m SSAC Championship. She holds several Brenau University and SSAC records for distance running in track and field and cross country. Brittany was named SSAC and NAIA athlete of the week multiple times during the college career.
James Gurley was principal of JCCHS from 1980-2001, the longest tenure of any principal in Jackson County School system history. During his tenure, Mr. Gurley helped start new sports programs including; track, tennis, golf, volleyball, slow pitch softball, soccer, wrestling, and fast pitch softball. James was a tireless worker for his students and helped JCCHS make the transition from a rural high school of 300 students to over 1,700 at the time of his retirement in 2001. During this time, JCCHS played in 4 different GHSA classifications. He also advocated and raised money for new facilities for students including sports venues and other extracurricular activities. James was a tireless worker, a leader with integrity, and a loyal Panther.
Nikki Sosebee was a 2004 Honor graduate of JCCHS where she received 10 Varsity letters in basketball, slow-pitch softball, and track. Her basketball career at JCCHS includes a career total of 1,511 points, which is second all-time in scoring for the Panthers. She was on 3 state playoff teams during her career. Her honors include being named to the Atlanta Tip off club Second team All-State team in 2003, named Honorable Mention All- State in 2004, and the Atlanta Tip off Club Prep team of the year in 2004. In softball, Nikki holds numerous Panther records including homeruns, doubles, triples, and a career batting average of 523. Due to her leadership qualities, she was named Captain of the softball team for three seasons and the basketball team for two seasons. After graduation, Nikki attended Piedmont College where she was a standout basketball player. She was named to the Great South Conference All Freshman team in 2005, All Conference team all 4 years, and was the Great South Conference Player of the Year in 2004. Nikki will be remembered for her determination, work ethic, leadership, and athletic ability which made her a great ambassador for JCCHS.
Arlen Berryman was a standout basketball player at Braselton High School playing on the 1945 9th District Championship team and graduating in 1948. Arlen played for the legendary Jack Boggs and Herman Braselton during high School. After graduation, he competed in industrial and open basketball leagues throughout Georgia playing with and against some of the best players in the southeast. He is considered by many to be the best all-around player to ever play at Braselton or Jackson County High School. Arlen also worked with the local West Jackson area high school and youth players helping develop their basketball skills for over 2 decades. He drove the bus for the Braselton & Jackson County High School basketball teams for almost 20 years, did scouting for several coaches during this era, and even coached the team for one season. Mr. Berryman is revered by members of the early 60’s championship era teams as one of the driving forces behind their development and success in basketball. Arlen’s five children all played basketball for Jackson County.
D.L. Hitchcock served as JCHS principal and Head boy’s basketball coach from 1958-1963. He also served as the girl’s basketball Head Coach three seasons from 1959-1961. Coach Hitchcock’s boy’s teams compiled an impressive five year record of 124 wins and 17 losses. The Panthers were undefeated at home for four seasons from 1960-1963. His teams also won four Region 8C South sub-region titles a, 3 8C region titles, and finished the 1962 season at State Runner-up. “Red’s” final team went 30-1, losing in overtime in the first round of the State tournament. Jackson County also defeated the #1 ranked State Champion AA Hart County Bulldogs 78-56, in Braselton, to open the 1963 season. His vision, drive, and determination led to the building of a new gymnasium for Jackson County High School. Thru donated materials and fundraisers, the facility was completed in the fall of 1961 with no tax money being used for the construction. The facility is still in use today and is a credit to Coach Hitchcock’s leadership. After leaving Jackson County, he served as Principal for Central Gwinnett High School and finished his educational career as Superintendent of Barrow County Schools. Coach Hitchcock is remembered by his players and a self-less leader who inspired his students to excel in life.
James Brown served as teacher, coach and administrator for the Jackson county School System for 40 years (1958-1998). Mr. Brown was a teacher and Coach at Bryan High School from 1958-1968. During that time his Boys Basketball Team was runner-up for the State Basketball Championship in 1967. After segregation ended in Georgia, Mr. Brown served as a teacher and coach at Benton Elementary School from 1968 to 1980. Between 1980 and 1998, Mr. Brown served as a teacher, coach and administrator for Jackson County Comprehensive High School where he was named Star Teacher in 1981.
A 1979 graduate of Jackson County High School, Cheryl lettered for 4 years in basketball and 2 years as a starter in baseball for the Panthers. She is the only female ever to letter in Jackson County as a Varsity baseball player. Cheryl was also known for her heads up play on the basketball court and led her team in scoring for 3 seasons averaging 15 points per game for her career. Her career games played 93 and points scored 1,424 still rank in the top three all time for girls basketball at Jackson County. She was named All Region in 1978 & 1979. Cheryl attended Truett McConnell College on a basketball scholarship and graduated from North Georgia College where she played softball. She continued her athletic career after college traveling the United States playing competitive softball for 12 years, winning both championships and individual honors. She has given back to her community of Braselton by coaching youth league teams in both softball and basketball , as well as, supporting youth programs thru her business sponsorships. Cheryl will be remembered for her competitive spirit, athleticism, and as a great teammate.
Mrs. Florine had a 30 year career with the Jackson County School System. Her tireless work and dedication to Jackson County Panther Athletics was unequaled. Keeping the athletic venues at Jackson County High School ready for fans and players alike was Mrs. Florien’s vocation and avocation. Along with her husband Mr. R.L. and sister in law Ms. Jesse, Mrs. Florine could be found most every night after a game getting the school back in shape for the next day or following Monday.
Mrs. Florine will be mostly remembered for the hospitality that she provided for many years to coaches, athletes and officials on game nights. She was well known throughout the area for her cooking abilities. Officials and visiting coaches would always ask about Mrs. Florine, is she cooking, what is she going to have for dinner? She would always provide some type of meal after most Home football and basketball games for the coaches and their families while she cleaned the gym and locker rooms.
O’Dell Collins was a football star for the JCCHS Panthers from 1990-1992. During his three varsity seasons, the Panthers achieved a combined record of 21-9-1. During his senior season, the Panthers were 8-2-1 and reached the State playoffs, also achieving a top 10 ranking in AA during the season. O’Dell’s Panther records include; being the all-time leading rusher with 2,820, single season leading rusher with 1,370 yards, and career touchdowns with 35. He was selected to the All Area, All Northeast Georgia, and All State teams in 1992. After graduation, Odell attended Merced Junior College in California where he broke the California career rushing record with 3,570 yards and touchdowns with 35, in two seasons. He was also named Central Valley Conference Player of the year in 1994 and Junior College All American. O’Dell returned home to play for the Georgia Bulldogs, lettering for two years. He went on to play professionally for the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets and played in the Canadian Football League for two seasons. O’Dell was inducted into the California Community College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He is remembered not only for his exploits on the field but his friendly demeanor and pride in being a Panther.
Jason Powers was a 3 time GHSA State wrestling champion for the Panthers. He lettered four years in wrestling, three in baseball, one year in track from 2000-2003. Jason was State Champion in 2001 & 2002 for AAA in the 103 pound weight class. He competed his senior season in AAAA in the 112 pound class where he also won a State title. Jason also excelled in the classroom as a 3 time Academic All American and was Salutatorian of the 2003 graduating class. Jason other honors include being named Gainesville/Hall county Male student athlete of the year in 2002, All State All Classification Wrestling team in 2002, and being named Mr. JCCHS by the faculty and staff in 2003. Being a true Panther, he returned to Jackson County Comprehensive High School in 2007 as the Head Wrestling coach.
Mr. Leigh began working for the Jackson County School System in 1979 when Jackson County High school was relocated from Braselton to Gordon Street. He spent the next 35 years being dedicated to Jackson County High School and as a role model to students, Faculty and staff. No matter whether the task was large or small, Mr. Leigh did it all with pride and dedication. Whether it was prepping the field for Athletic games or repairing broken doors, Mr. Leigh wanted to inspire in the students that “There is no substation for hard work” (Thomas Edison). “Hard work and helping others is my main focus in life”, says Mr. Leigh Mr. Leigh and is a shining example of Panther Pride.
James Leigh is dedicated family men who, along with his wife Elizabeth, have raised their family in Jackson County.
James Leigh has touched the lives of so many through his work at Jackson County High school and his support of the athletic programs. Mere words cannot express how much he has meant to this high school and community. Thank you for your time, effort, and dedication to Jackson County Comprehensive High School and Panther Athletics.
A four sport varsity athlete in softball, basketball, track, and cross country, Carly led the Panthers to State in every respective sport in which she participated. It was in track and cross country, however, where she distinguished herself as one of the most accomplished athletes in Jackson County history. In cross country, she qualified for state all four years and earned the Region title in 1998. At state, Carly was runner-up and finished 5th the following year. In track, Carly won the region title twice in the 1600m and was crowned the Region Champion in the 3200m event three of the four years she competed, with a runner-up performance her senior year. At state, she finished no lower than 6th in either event and won the State Championship in the 3200m in 1999. At the end of her high school career, Carly held seven school records including; the 3200m, 1600m, 4 x400m relay, 4x800m relay, the sprint medley relay, the distance medley relay, and the 5k in cross country. Under graduation she was awarded an athletic scholarship to the University of West Georgia.
Mrs. Gee was a pioneer in coaching and education during her 30 year career. Sarah began her career in coaching at Jefferson High School in 1957 as the girls’ varsity coach. She moved to North Jackson elementary in 1960 before joining the faculty at Jackson County High & Elementary School in 1963. She coached middle school girls for three years and Jr. Varsity for 2 years before taking over as Varsity Girls coach in 1968. Sarah has the distinction of being the first female high school varsity coach in Jackson County. Sarah coached at the varsity level for six years, all winning seasons, and won three straight 8A North sub-region titles from 1971-73. After leaving coaching at the high school level, she continued to assist with player development, help other coaches, and support Panther athletics. After Jackson County High School was moved to Jefferson in 1979, Sarah took a leading role in helping develop and improve the athletic program at Jackson County elementary school. Perhaps her greatest legacy will be the hundreds of students she has mentored during and after her teaching career who hold her in the highest regard. Mrs. Gee is a true legend in Jackson County and it is with great honor that she is inducted into the JCCHS athletic Hall of Fame.
Cory was a 1993 graduate of JCCHS where he excelled in Football and Track. He was a member of three straight winning football teams from 1990-1992 and helped lead the Panthers to an 8-2-1 record in 1992 including the state playoffs. Cory held the Panther single season football records for over 20 years in receiving yards, receptions, and Touchdown receptions and still holds the career record for receptions in a game with 10. He was the first player in Panther history to both rush for 100 yards and have 100 yards receiving in the same game. In track, he qualified and placed in the State track meet in the 100m, 200m, and Long Jump in his senior season. For all his athletic accomplishments in high school, Cory is remembered by the faculty as a model student with outstanding character and was named Mr. JCCHS in 1993. He signed a full football scholarship with West Georgia University where he was a three time Gulf South All Conference defensive back and Two time NCCA All American. Cory is not only one of the best athletes to ever play at Jackson County but one of the schools most outstanding Alumni.
Steve was a 1976 graduate from Jackson County High School in Braselton where he was a 2 year letterman in basketball and baseball. He led the Panthers in scoring his senior season in basketball and was a starting pitcher in baseball. Steve was named Most Athletic by his senior class and was chosen as Mr. JCHS in 1976. He attended Huntington College on a basketball scholarship and after graduation, started his coaching career in high school basketball. His overall record from 1985-2015 was 490-290. In 2016, Steve recorded his 500 victory as a high school head coach making him one of a select group of coaches to reach that milestone. His teams over that span have won 6 Region basketball titles in three different classifications, made the final four 5 times, and have been the GHSA State runner-up 3 times. Steve has been named Region coach of the year 7 times, been the head coach of three GHSA all-star teams, and was voted the Atlanta Tip-off club high school girls basketball Coach of the year in 1999. Coach Sweat is a high school coaching legend in Georgia and Jackson County High School is proud to have him as an Alumni.