Smart to be inducted into Sports Hall of Fame

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sonny Smart will be inducted into the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 2nd at 6:00pm at the Bainbridge Country Club. Tickets are on sale for $20 each at Grimsley Pharmacy and Parker Paint.

Sonny Smart is a 1970 graduate of Samford University where he was a two-year starter at center for the Samford Bulldog football team. After coaching football one year at his alma mater Houston County High School, he began a ten-year tenure coaching at Holtville High School in Alabama.

Coach Smart was the offensive and defensive line coach at Holtville High from 1972 through 1976. He was instrumental in teams that were 30 – 3 in 1972, 1973, and 1974. Sonny was also the head baseball coach during those years. His baseball teams won two Region Championships and advanced to the State Championship game in 1977 finishing as state runner-up.

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Named head football coach at Holtville in 1977, Coach Smart began rebuilding the Holtville football program. This process included starting a strength and conditioning program and building a field house. Coach Smart led Holtville to Region Championships in 1980 and 1981. In the spring of 1982, Coach Smart also served as the Head Baseball coach and led the team to a State Baseball Championship.

In the fall of 1982, the Smart family moved to Bainbridge, where Sonny accepted a position as defensive coordinator on Coach Ralph Jones’ staff. The Bearcats had an outstanding season in 1982. It was highlighted by a 7-0 shutout of arch rival Cairo to clinch a playoff berth and a 7-6 victory over Gainesville High for the State Championship. In addition to his football duties, Coach Smart also served as assistant principal of Elcan King Elementary and later as principal of West Bainbridge Elementary.

In 1988, Smart was named Bainbridge High School Head Football Coach and Decatur County Athletic Director. He remained in this position until 1995. During his tenure, Bainbridge High moved full time into Region 1AAAA, the largest classification in Georgia at that time and arguably one of the most competitive athletic regions in the country. Bainbridge football advanced to the region playoffs in 1990, 1993, and 1994.

In 1993 Coach Smart led Bainbridge Football to the Region 1-AAAA Championship and to the State Semi-Finals. Sonny was chosen Region Coach of the Year and Athletic Director of the Year in 1993. The Bearcats also had the Defensive Player and Offensive Player of the Year.

Coach Smart accepted the position as head football coach and athletic director at Rabun County High School in 1995 and retired from there in 2005. Sonny led the Rabun football team to the playoffs in 1996 and had an 11- win season in 1998, which was the most wins in school history at that time. The 1998 team advanced to the State Quarterfinals. Coach Smart was named Region 8 Athletic Director of the Year three times and served as Region President for four years.

Coach Smart coached in the Georgia North-South All -Star game as an assistant on the 1990 South Team and Head Coach of the 1999 North Team. He also was selected to coach in the Georgia-Florida All-Star game in 1997. His team won all three of those All-Star games.

Coach Smart resides with his wife, Sharon, in Rabun County.  Since retirement, he has founded the Georgia Mountain Senior Golf Association. Currently, there are 168 members, and they play in over 20 golf tournaments yearly.