Outside the Lines: A look back in AHSAA state final history

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Eighty-two years ago today, history was made in the third-annual Alabama High School Athletic association boys basketball state championship.

A young, 24-year-old head coach named Dick Webb became the first head coach in AHSAA basketball history to win two state championships, doing so in back-to-back years. His Simpson Purple Tornados held off a late rally by the Sidney Lanier Poets to win Simpson&8217;s third-consecutive title, 31-25, at the Central YMCA in Montgomery on March 7, 1925.

Since this win, numerous coaches have won multiple championships and in back-to-back years, most recently by Homer Davis, Jr., who led his R.C. Hatch Bobcats to a repeat title in Class 2A Thursday night.

Webb was John Carroll&8217;s Marty Smith or Calera&8217;s Robert Burdette of the time. His coaching resume surpassed the others, compiling a 47-7 record in his brief two-year career as athletic director and basketball coach.

He was the beloved professor who went from dissecting frogs in the classroom to dissecting an opponent&8217;s defense on the court. His teams outscored opponents 2,406-956 according to volumes two and three of the Simpson School yearbook, the Echo.

In his first season as head coach, Webb led his team to a fourth place finish in the national tournament in Chicago. The Echo credits Webb with building a team &8220;not just on boys, but on good material. The team knew basketball, and played it with a machine-like precision and decision.&8221;

Prior to taking over the program at Simpson, a preparatory school for Birmingham-Southern College, Webb served as principal and head basketball coach at Sheffield High for he 1922-23 season. He began his career in education in 1921 as a science teacher at Simpson for one year, before the short stint at Sheffield.

Webb moved to Ensley after the &8216;25 season to take over as coach and teach physics, never to return to the state final. He left the coaching field behind him in 1941 to become an industrial engineer at U.S. Steel and started selling insurance at night, what eventually became Dick Webb Insurance Agency.

Today, my great-grandfather&8217;s coaching legacy has been lost, even to his family, as he is remembered best as a father and businessman