(Newnan, Ga) – Drake Stadium has been at the corner of Waterworks and Sewell Road since it’s construction in 1966. Over the past 53 years, the stadium has hosted some of the best football players in the southeastern United States. Michael Cheever, Drew Hill and Alec Ogletree, who all played in the NFL called the majestic stadium home during their high school career. Even country music mega-star Alan Jackson, a Newnan graduate, performed here in a benefit concert in October 2001.
The facility was named after legendary Newnan school superintendent Homer Drake, Sr. who worked tirelessly for his community and the entire state of Georgia. He served as the president of the Georgia Association of School Administrators and was a director of the Georgia Education Association. Mr. Drake passed away in 1964 at the age of 63.
The first game at the new stadium was against Dallas High School and the Cougars won with a first-year head coach, Max Bass 19-0. Bass had previously been an assistant coach at Cedartown under Coach Doc Ayers. After they won the 1963 state championship there, Ayers left to join Vince Dooley’s original coaching staff at the University of Georgia and Coach Bass went to the warmer climates of Florida where he became the head coach at the Bolles School (which later would be Chipper Jones high school as well). After two seasons at the Jacksonville school, Bass took the Newnan job.
He would be at Newnan for the next 29 seasons, the only head coach to work the home sidelines at Drake Stadium until he retired in 1994. Coach Bass was the ultimate gentleman coach in the mold of Bear Bryant, with a dash of a colorful reputation. There were stories of lights being turned off in key moments or inoperable locker room door knobs that caused delays, but those just add the legend of his legacy at the stadium. There are not many communities in the state of Georgia that have its roots established in the work of one coach as Newnan, Georgia.
The biggest game at Drake was the 1981 state championship. The Cougars were lighting fast, they were led by Warren Newson and Joe Reese, both had 4.4 speed. As a matter of fact, Coach Bass went on record as saying everyone on the offense ran a 4.8 or better. Also on that team was the 1989 National League Baseball Rookie of the year, Jerome Walton.
After finishing the season 9-1, the Cougars rolled through the playoffs by defeating Morrow, LaGrange (revenge for their only loss of the regular season), Douglas County and Peachtree. That set up the championship game against the undefeated Warner Robins Demons. The Cougar offense that had been compared to a speeding bullet could not penetrate the stout Demon defense, led by linebacker Steve Boswell who would go on to a successful career at the University of Georgia and Eddie Anderson who played in the NFL for 12 seasons. The Demons won that night 21-0 in front of 12,000 fans.
After Bass’ retirement, several coaches have led the Cougars to various levels of success but not to the championship game again. That could change soon as their current head coach, Chip Walker, has won three championships previously at Sandy Creek, he knows the roadmap to success. While Drake Stadium has a rich heritage, there are many more memories and moments to write.