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|Faircloth retiring after 42 years at Vidalia High School|
For the first time since 1969, a new face with be walking the sidelines of Vidalia High's football field on Friday nights in the Fall.
Dee Faircloth will retire December 31, 2009, after completing his 41st season as football coach at Vidalia High.
"It's just time," Faircloth said.
Faircloth, a Mangham High graduate, arrived in Vidalia in 1968 as an assistant coach to Don Alonzo. When Alonzo took the head coaching job at St. Aloysius in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1969, Faircloth was promoted to head coach.
Faircloth posted a record of 249-187-6. His 249 wins ranks 19th in Louisiana. Vidalia High's football stadium was named after Faircloth in 2005.
Faircloth's 249 wins ranks third to J.T. Curtis of John Curtis High and Vic Dalrymple of Oak Grove in number of wins among coaches in Louisiana who coached at only one school.
J.T. Curtis is 480-52-6, while Dalrymple is 298-83-0.
Faircloth actually turned in his resignation prior to the 2009 season when practice began during the summer after his second chemo treatment for prostate cancer. But several of his players showed up at his doorstep and Faircloth was back the next day.
Faircloth wanted to keep his retirement low-key, keeping his comments to a minimum.
He missed the Vidalia-Ferriday football game because of chemo treatment and was in the press box for the Mangham game.
"There's been a lot of highlights and I've had the honor of working with a lot of great people," Faircloth said.
Vidalia High principal Rick Brown said he will be receiving applications for the head football coaching position at the school.
"I'm going to interview the candidates and make a recommendation to the School Board," Brown said. "That recommendation will be who I feel will be the best qualified."
Brown said he will miss seeing Faircloth around the school.
"We'll bring in another coach, but there is no way you can replace Dee Faircloth," Brown said. "He's going to leave a huge void. But I want him to be happy and healthy. He has meant the world to me. He's a great coach, but an even greater individual. His attitude toward the kids and his work ethic cannot be matched. A lot of people do not realize what he does behind the scenes. There were many holidays and weekends when that white car of his would be parked behind the gym and he would be working and getting things prepared for the kids. He's just meant so much to the students, other coaches, teaches and everybody who works at Vidalia High."
Former Vidalia principal Walter Stampley, who started football at Vidalia High in 1952 and hired Faircloth in 1968 as an assistant coach, said the venerable coach was a stabilizing force at the school.
"His dedication to the job is what impressed me," Stampley said. "His life revolved around football. He would bring his kids to the gym in the summer, put them on a pallet on the gym floor and work on some of his duties related to football. His office and weight room looked like a store on Fifth Avenue everything was so clean and organized. I could always depend on Coach Faircloth for anything."
Ferriday High head football coach Freddie Harrison said it is a sad day in coaching.
"To see somebody with that many years and with that much knowledge getting out is a shame," Harrison said. "It's going to be hard to replace him. The person who steps in will have high expectations and some big shoes to fill. He's a great guy on the field and off the field."
Ouachita Christian School head football coach Steven Fitzhugh has been playing Faircloth's teams since 1999.
"I think the world of Coach Faircloth," Fitzhugh said. "He just has a great demeanor, he's a great competitor who loves football and loves his kids. I learned a lot just being around him."
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