Jeff Littleton hired as Tift County head coach after 11 seasons with Bearcats

Published 2:31 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

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Jeff Littleton has been hired as the next Tift County High School head football coach. Littleton joins the Blue Devils from Bainbridge High School, where he coached 11 seasons.

I told the kids in Bainbridge, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Littleton said. “I found myself getting comfortable in my shoes there, and thought if I’m going to preach this, I’ve got to do it… I’m excited to be a piece of what’s going on [at Tift County].”

Littleton accrued a 72-36 (.667) regular season record and a 19-10 (.655) playoff record with the Bearcats, leading them to a state championship and five region championships. His region record at Bainbridge was 40-12 (.769), and he won four straight region championships from 2020-2023.

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He is the winningest head coach in Bearcat football history with 91 victories in the regular season and playoffs. He is second* in all-time win percentage at .661 behind Bainbridge’s only other state champion head coach, Ralph Jones, who earned a .692 win percentage from 1981-1987

Littleton’s 11-year stent with Bainbridge is the T-2nd longest coaching tenure in Bearcat history. He matches Spencer Davis’s time (1955-1965) and sits behind Harry O. Shealy, who coached 13 seasons from 1925-1936.

The Bearcats won its second-ever state championship under Littleton in 2018— more than 35 years since the first in 1982. The Bearcats defeated Warner Robbins 47-41 in triple overtime for the title. The game is the longest state championship match in GHSA history and was ranked the greatest Georgia high school football state championship game of all time by Georgia High School Football Daily, the most reputable high school football outlet in Georgia. 

The state champion coached his best stretch of football in the final four years of his tenure. From 2020 to 2023, the Bearcats earned a 29-11 regular season record and went undefeated in 18 region games. They made it to at least the third round of playoffs in three of the four seasons, making it the furthest to the fourth round in 2020.

Littleton, who coached at Cairo before joining the Bearcats in 2013, dominated the Bainbridge rival. He finished with an 8-3 record against the Syrupmakers, outsourcing them by more than 150 points in 11 meetings. His biggest win was in the 2023, crushing Cairo 56-6.

Littleton faced the Tift County Blue Devils twice in his Bainbridge tenure, losing both times. The Bearcats fell to the 7A school 31-14 in 2018 and 24-6 in 2019.

The Blue Devil’s head coaching vacancy was left by previous head coach Noel Dean. Dean announced he would not return as the school’s head coach midway through the 2023 season. He made the decision amid backlash from Blue Devils fans. 

A petition, created by a handful of parents of Tift County players, circulated throughout the community, seeking signatures in support of removing Dean from his coaching duties, according to Phil Jones of

“It became apparent to me that with some of the things that had gone on in our community in the last week and a half, I have some folks who had not expressed the truth on some things,” Dean said on an ITGNext podcast. “Things have become so confrontational that it has just got to the point where it’s so toxic,” 

Dean announced his intentions in a letter to the Tift County School district, and said the decision came “with a heavy heart and a deep sense of gratitude” for the experiences he had during his tenure.

“I will forever treasure the memories, the camaraderies and the growth we’ve experienced as a team,” Dean said.

Dean coached three seasons at Tift County, accruing a 9-22 regular season record. The Blue Devils finished with a 2-8 record under Dean in 2023— they were 1-4 when Dean announced he wouldn’t return as head coach.


*among Bainbridge head coaches who coached for 3+ years