Roswell High School’s football history officially began in the spring of 1950 when Coach Tom Coleman, then a player at Georgia Tech, assembled 26 players for a spring practice and a spring game. Bill McCampbell became head coach and the first full season in 1951 resulted in a 6–2 record in the books, including beating Milton twice. In 1952, after the departure of Coach McCampbell, who left for Marietta High, 19 players assembled under the direction of Coach Kurt Pierce. 1953 saw Coach Lewis Lake take over the helm with only 13 players. In 1954, Coach Bill Yoast began building for Roswell’s first championship team. The 1956 Hornets posted an 8–2–2 record but suffered a tough loss to Monticello in the Class C State Championship.
In the fall of 1961, Coach Ray Sheppard took over the Roswell program before retiring to private business in 1966. His teams compiled a record of 43–16–2. In 1964 and in 1965 they were the 4B Sub region runner-up and they won the 4B Sub region Championship in 1966 with a season record of 10–1–1. Coach Charlie Horne became the head coach of the Hornets in 1967 and his team ended the season with a 9–1 record. Roswell’s shining moment of the decade came in 1968 when the Hornets completed the school’s first undefeated season with a 13–0 record and a Class B State Championship victory over Irwin County.
In 1991 the Hornets returned to playoff action versus Marietta and Coach Manus captured his 100th career victory against Etowah. 1992 brought the Hornets a first-ever top ten ranking in AAAA football after a 7–0 start. They finished the season with a record of 9–2 and once again made the Region playoffs. The 1993 Hornets became the first Roswell football team to reach the AAAA State Playoffs. The Hornets were paired against Milton for the 1st round playoff game. In a heart stopper that wasn’t won until the last second of play, the Hornets advanced in dramatic fashion with a score of 28–27. Roswell was then matched against an undefeated Dunwoody team in the 2nd round of the State Playoffs. On a rainy night and muddy field, the eventual 1993 AAAA State Champions from Dunwoody High School ended the Hornets’ season. In 1994, the Hornets inaugurated their new campus stadium complex in a game against Sequoyah High School. A new era in the new, state of the art “Hornets’ Nest” had begun. The 1996 Hornets recorded Roswell’s second victory in the AAAA State Playoffs with a stunning win over defending State Champs, southwest Dekalb at Memorial Stadium. This victory moved the Hornets in to the final 16 where perennial powerhouse, Clarke Central, in a game played at the Hornets’ Nest, ultimately ended Roswell’s season.
The 1997 season is remembered as Coach Manus’ 24th and final season as head coach. His dedication to the development of his “heroes” both on the field and in the classroom will serve as his greatest legacy for many years to come. He has indeed touched many lives. Long time assistant Coach Tim McFarlin took the helm as the Hornets began their 49th season of football in 1998. McFarlin’s young squad showed great poise as they defeated Marietta for the first time in 10 years and made the first round of the State Playoffs before losing to Brookwood. Coach McFarlin’s 2000 squad had four team members receive scholarships to play at the collegiate level and, his 2001 team sent a record number of nine players to the collegiate ranks – a record that would stand until the 2010 season. The 2002 Hornet team fell short of the State Playoffs by posting a 7–3 record but had another great signing year with four Division I and two Division II signees.
The 2010 Hornets opened the season with tough road losses against Gwinnett County football powers Collins Hill and Peachtree Ridge but went on to post a 5-1 record in Region 6-AAAAA and capture the program’s third Region title since 2000 and ninth title for the program. The Hornets again advanced to the playoffs and defeated Parkview 29-27 in the first round in a thrilling game that was decided by a 52-yard field goal as time expired. The 2010 Hornets also set the program’s all time national signing-day record with 10 players signing letters of intent to play football at the college level.
In February 2011 Roswell High School announced Justin Sanderson as head football coach. Sanderson was hired in 2003 by former head coach Tim McFarlin, and was responsible for coaching the offensive line for the 2006 state championship team. In 2008, Coach Sanderson was promoted to assistant head coach by Leo Barker and named offensive coordinator for the 2010 season. Unfortunately, Sanderson’s two years as head coach were tough years for Roswell Football, as the team suffered losing seasons in both years.
In December of 2012, Roswell High School announced John Ford as the new head coach. Ford was hired in 2008 to work with running backs and was also the special teams coordinator. In 2011-2012, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In his first full year as head coach, he helped 12 seniors from the 2012 campaign sign at the collegiate level, and then coached the 2013 team to a greatly improved 4-6 season. 6 more seniors from that team committed to play ball in college. In 2014, the team returned to it's winning ways by posting a 8-4 record that included a thrilling come from behind victory over arch rival and 5th ranked Milton, and a first round playoff win over Lambert. 5 seniors from the 2014 team committed to play college ball.
For Hornet Nation and Head Coach John Ford, 2015 counts as a storybook season. The expectation was to return to the playoffs, and go “deeper” than the successful 2014 season. Going undefeated, 14-0, against all regional foes and four former state champions, and then reaching the championship game was definitely deeper than expected. From that stellar squad, 8 Hornet seniors have signed on to play college ball in the fall of 2016.
Ford cares about his individual players and believes the way to build a great team is to invest in the individuals that make up the team from a physical, emotional, academic and spiritual standpoint. We look forward with anticipation to another exciting season of Roswell Football!!!