Granger royalty: David Traylor is still going strong over 40 years into his coaching career at LaGrange High

Published 6:10 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

David Traylor is a Granger through and through. A native of Athens, Traylor has called LaGrange home since 1982 and the impact he has had on LaGrange High and the community at large over the last 40 years is remarkable. From football to track and field to baseball to tennis and beyond, Traylor has mentored and pushed generations of Grangers to be the very best versions of themselves.

“A big thing for all of us who’ve been in coaching is for the kids to do well once they leave,” Traylor said. “We want to see them take something with them that we told them or they picked up just by being around the team or us as coaches. So seeing them grow up and make something of themselves is the most satisfying thing about coaching.”

His ties to Athens will continue on long after all his relatives have moved on from his hometown, but his home is LaGrange. It is where he found love, raised his two children and ultimately planted his roots deep within the west Georgian red clay. 

Traylor had his chance to leave for a head coaching job, but was hard pressed to find a reason to leave.

“It was gonna have to be something really big,” Traylor said. “I just kind of like it here. This is a great place, a great community that gives the teams and school a lot of support. There are a lot of great people in town, and why would I want to leave that?”

The current generation of Grangers knows Traylor for his kindhearted gentleness with the tennis team. Traylor has spent the last 22 years as an assistant coach alongside Kenny Moore, and the two share quite a special bond.

“He came here in 1989 and we coached football together before then so I’ve had to put up with him for a long time,” Traylor said with a laugh. 

Traylor’s time on the gridiron is where most Granger fans will recognize him. From 1982 to 2013 he was on staff for the LaGrange football team and outside of his first year with the Grangers, he served as offensive coordinator for every season during his tenure.

During his time with the football team, Traylor won four state championships and the only national championship a high school in Troup County has ever earned when the Grangers won the National Championship in 1991.

“I remember a lot of it was a lot of fun, great team,” Traylor said. “There were a lot of community issues during that year that kind of made it tough. The school system voted to consolidate with the County school system and there was a lot of back and forth by a lot of people who didn’t want that to happen. And so, you know, there are some issues going on in the community and that football season actually helped pull things together.”

The accolades speak for themselves as Traylor is quick to credit all the coaches around him rather than taking an inkling of the credit. LaGrange High has had a football team for nearly 120 years and the offense has scored over 500 points in a season on only three occasions — 2001, 2002 and 2004. Of the top 13 highest-scoring teams in LaGrange history, Traylor was the architect of 12 of them with the only exception being the 2023 team. 

Despite not winning a state championship in 2002, the offense was top-notch. Traylor’s offense averaged nearly 39 points per game, the second highest in school history behind the 1924 team that averaged nearly 50 points per game in a much shorter schedule and a different era for football.

It was a classic case of iron sharpening iron as Traylor’s high-powered offense went up against Donnie Branch’s stout defense every day at practice.

“We couldn’t go all out at scrimmages so guys wouldn’t get hurt,” Traylor said, chuckling.

Branch was also Traylor’s final head football coach as the two walked away from football together in 2013. The two have come a long aways on the gridiron, but also on the diamond as well. Traylor served as head baseball coach early in his tenure with the Grangers but began to deal with some health issues after five seasons in charge. He passed the torch to Branch and the rest is history as he guided the team to the 2004 state championship as well as back-to-back state runner-up finishes in 2022 and 2023.

“I had been having some heart issues. So my health was a little bit suspect and I really was looking to cut back on my load a little bit. And after I’ve worked with Donnie for a couple of years, I saw that he had great knowledge, great baseball knowledge, and he was willing to work all summer with it,” Traylor said. “I was really committed to football and Donnie just had more energy than me.”

Winning state championships is the goal, but Traylor has always focused on the individual aspect of sports. He does not just want to help mold aspiring young athletes, he wants to help shape their future away from sports as well. This is why Traylor felt a strong calling to teach and coach when he was getting out of the Army in the 70s.

“I knew I was getting out of the Army after three years, so I had to start thinking about a long term career and I thought, well, you know, I’ve always liked kids and I’ve always liked sports. And I’ve always thought that, you know, it was important to teach kids so I thought that might be a direction to head in,” Traylor said.

Traylor took his first coaching and teaching job in South Georgia in 1978 and the rest is history.

The championship-winning runs will always have a special place in Traylor’s memories, but coaching his son will linger in his mind long after the memories of winning have withered away. His son Tommy was a kicker on the football team and is the main reason that Traylor became a tennis coach in the first place.

When Tommy was entering the eighth grade, Moore recruited Traylor to be an assistant coach. Over 20 years later and the duo is going as strong as ever with the boys and girls tennis teams regularly making deep runs in the playoffs including the girls making a trip to the 2022 4A state championship match.

If there is a Mount Rushmore of Granger coaches there would have to be a spot for Traylor. Through the lean years, the strong years and every year in between, Traylor has been a Granger and he would have it no other way.