Robert Higginbotham’s father, Coach Morris Higginbotham, became the head football coach at Hueytown High School in the spring of 1963, bringing Robert along with him as the sophomore quarterback. He would be the starting quarterback for the next 3 years before attending the University of Alabama. Robert played defensive back for the Crimson Tide and Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at Alabama in 1967 – 1968. “Higg” was a graduate assistant for Bryant, then served as an assistant for Jim Glover at Etowah High School. In 1972 after 3 months in artillery school as a 1st Lieutenant, Higg worked for Shorty White at Banks High School when the Jets won the 4A State Championship with a record of 12-0-1. He was the head coach at Mountain Brook from 1973 – 1975 where he won a state championship of his own at in 1975 with a record of 13 – 0, beating Dothan 29 – 23 at Legion Field, and was named the Coach of the Year.
In 1977, Robert took the head coaching job at Shades Valley High School where he served for the next 22 seasons. His teams there produced eleven Region Championships and qualified for the playoffs 14 times. While the Mounties’ coach in 1988, Higg was named the first head coach of the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game. Coach David Stapleton, who coached with him and then replaced him at Shades Valley, had this to say, “I went to work for Robert as his Defensive Coordinator in 1997. During that two year span, we became the closest of friends. I consider him as my mentor and friend; a friend who I talk to weekly, confide in, trust, and go to for guidance. I cannot think of a better person the good Lord could’ve put in my life to teach me football, but to also be so much more than that – a lifelong friend and brother.”
Following the 1998 season, Coach Higg would take over the reins at Tuscaloosa County High School, and his success continued. In 10 seasons, the Wildcats made the playoffs each season and won another seven Region titles, with four teams being undefeated during the regular season. Coach Lee Gibson, now the head coach at Leeds High School, coached with Higg at Tuscaloosa County, and then replaced him when he retired. Coach Gibson said, “Robert has played a major role in my coaching career. If it were not for him, I would not be where I am today. He taught me a lot about the game, but more about life. He has been a big influence for me both on and off the field. He is not only my mentor, but he is one of my best friends.”
Robert credits his Dad and Coach Bryant as being the biggest influences of his coaching career. His accomplishments include the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 (joining his dad), serving on the selection committee for the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star game from 1988 – 2007, being only one of three coaches to be the Head Coach of the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Game twice, serving as a charter board member of the ALFCA, and holding a 270-127-3 career record.
For 47 seasons, Coach Robert Higginbotham roamed the sidelines of Alabama high school football. Father and son would finish their careers with a combined record of 460-200-14. They are only the only father and son to receive the ALFCA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Today, the ALFCA is honored to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Coach Robert Higginbotham.
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