GAME CHANGERS | Akron Manchester coach celebrates nearly 400 wins

GAME CHANGERS: Akron Manchester

For almost half a century, Jim France has strolled the halls of Akron Manchester High School, mentoring thousands of students.

"I love the place, and I love the kids," France said. "It's a great community."

France has worked at Manchester since 1971, serving as principal for the last 35 years.

But every autumn weekday at 2:10 p.m., the 74-year-old climbs into his pickup truck and heads to his second office less than a mile down the road.

James R. France Stadium was named after the Panthers head football coach in 1989.

"I've spent as much time here as I do at home," France said.

The Panthers' home turf is named after France for good reason: he's never had a losing season in 46 years as Manchester's head football coach.

"The key here is teamwork," France said. "We don't have a lot of great, great players, but we've got a lot of great kids that love to play football, and they work hard."

France's career of consistency led to an impressive milestone last Friday. The Panthers' win over Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy marked the 382nd win of France's coaching career, passing former Ironton coach Bill Lutz for the most career coaching wins in Ohio high school history.

"It was just kind of, a load had been taken off my shoulders," France said. "I enjoyed the postgame activities and it was just a nice, relaxing evening after that."

France's record-setting success has been a family affair. His sons, Jason and Jeff, are assistant coaches. And his grandson, JoJo, is the starting quarterback.

"He just keeps it simple, and he holds kids accountable for what they're doing here," Jason France said. "And (the kids) respect him, and they come out and they play hard for him."

Jim France's career wins total has since climbed to 383 wins. Manchester defeated Fairless, 38-12, in Region 17 playoff action to extend yet another season for Ohio's all-time wins leader.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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