Class of 2008
Johnny Bailey was a three-sport letterman and quarterbacked Ardmore High School to a state championship in 1961. Over his football career with the Tigers, Ardmore went 31-2-1. In 1961, he ran for 22 touchdowns and passed for eight more. He also scored on five PATs and passed for four more. He was All-County, All-Wheeler Basin Conference and All- State.
The 1961 Ardmore team went undefeated at 9-0, scoring a record 443 points and giving up only 12 points. He also quarterbacked the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1960 and was coached by the legendary Eugene Cooper.
During Ardmore's first eight games in 1961, the team scored 362 points and out of those 362 points, Bailey and teammate Rayburn Quinn scored 272 of those points. His senior year, Bailey ran 22 touchdowns, accumulating 588 yards in touchdown runs only.
Coach Cooper once described Bailey as "a ball handling wizard who can run and pass with the best in the state."
"Playing football for coach Cooper back in those days was hard work," said Bailey. "He was really a stickler and believed in his players being in good shape with lot of conditioning. I had some good coaches back then. Not only did I have coach Cooper, I had Bobby Wood and Paul Hargrove as my assistant coaches. Those coaches and a lot of good players and that made playing football a lot easier." Bailey recalled that at Ardmore, Cooper had his teams ready to play every game.
"We had to," he said. "We were playing against some mighty good opponents and players such as Red Yarbrough (Elkmont) and Johnny Malone (Tanner)," he said.
"We were a lot like the University of Oklahoma in those days. When we came out on the field we were there to wear the other team down. We were there to play to the very end," he said. Johnny also played guard and forward in basketball where he was All Wheeler Basin Conference and All-County, leading the Tigers to the Wheeler Basin Championship.
Bailey went to Florence State on a scholarship and was the starting quarterback as a freshman. An injury forced him to the defensive unit his final three years where he played linebacker and safety. In 1969-70, Bailey returned to Ardmore High School where he assisted Cooper in football and coached the junior high boys basketball team.
Today, Bailey is retired still living in Ardmore with his wife, Gail. He has four children. He may be best remembered of late for helping develop Bay Hill along the Tennessee River in southwest Limestone County.
A friend of Bailey's, teammate Raymond "Frog" McLemore, said Bailey's love of athletics started as he played neighborhood games of baseball, football, and basketball in his hometown of Ardmore. "His first encounter with organized ball came in 1952 when he was a member of the first youth baseball league team coached by "Bug" Hodges and Frank Brock," he said. "His passion for sports became more evident in junior high as he excelled in football, basketball and track."