Are you for armed guards at schools?|
Story Archives: More than end to an era
- 2013 - 290 articles
- 2012 - 856 articles
- 2011 - 635 articles
- 2010 - 1276 articles
- 2009 - 1591 articles
- 2008 - 1763 articles
|More than end to an era|
In 1974, Carly Simon released a song called, "I Haven't Got Time for the Pain."
Thirty-five years later, Vidalia coach Dee Faircloth could probably use that as a soundtrack for his 2009 football season. Which now turns out to be his final season at the place he started as a head coach in 1969.
Faircloth considered - and actually turned in his resignation when practice began for the 2009 season 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.
Ferriday High head football coach Freddie Harrison also paid a visit to Faircloth's home when he heard of his illness and gave his support.
"It was a pleasure to coach against Coach Faircloth, see him work and get to know him off the field," Harrison said. "He always had a story and it seems like he knows everybody in Louisiana."
Faircloth managed to make it through the 2009 season with the help of his coaching staff which really stepped up to the plate admirably. Faircloth did miss the Ferriday-Vidalia football game and spent the Mangham game in the press box. If anyone had any doubts about how bad the Viking head coach was feeling - that should have ended every kind of doubt.
Vidalia finished 3-7 this season. It certainly isn't the way Faircloth would have wanted to go out. But we all can't write our own endings.
Faircloth's 249 wins ranks fourth behind J.T. Curtis of John Curtis High, Vic Dalrymple of Oak Grove and Lewis Cook of Notre Dame-Crowley for number of wins among active coaches in Louisiana at the same school their entire careers.
Faircloth is ranked No. 19 overall in the state for total win all-time by a coach.
District Attorney Brad Burget said he attended Vidalia High because he wanted to play football for Faircloth.
"I remember back in 1980 when I was at Vidalia Lower Elementary the high school players and Coach Faircloth came to our school to eat lunch with us," Burget said. "They all had ties and their letter jackets on. To me it was like the Dallas Cowboys came driving up."
At least twice a week while visiting in person or by phone, Faircloth would tell a story about the old days. It would be a new story on rare occasions, but most of the time it was rehashing an old story. And it was just as funny as the first time.
After each story, Faircloth would give me that look and say, "Joey, we gotta write that book."
And I heartily agreed, thinking about how much fun it would be to have a collection of stories from the master storyteller who could remember things that happened back in 1969 just as clearly as those that happened last week.
It was always fun to listen to those stories because Faircloth would be just a chuckling all the way through.
The stories about Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, Rick Brown and Ken Simmons were some of the best. Although there are numerous others about Fred Marsalis, Tommy Lanius and his current coaching staff that had me in tears.
And it was good to here those stories because you knew Faircloth was feeling good when he recounted bus trips, scouting experiences or just incidents around the field.
Sure, there were times when you knew to make the visit short and there would be no joking around on this day. That usually came after a loss or poor effort from his team, something he always took very personally.
But the good days far outweighed the bad days.
His coaching counterparts can certainly tell some stories on the veteran skipper.
Steven Fitzhugh arrived at Ouachita Christian from Texas in the early 1990s and has been a regular on Faircloth's schedule since 1999.
"It was kind of crazy how we ended up playing each other," Fitzhugh said. "I saw Vidalia's name in a northeast Louisiana paper and called him up one day. He had that same open date, so we ended up scheduling them. It was on a Friday, November 13, 1998. I really wasn't sure where Vidalia was since I was from Texas. We were going to south Louisiana for a playoff game and I saw a sign that said 'Welcome to Vidalia' and I turned to my assistant and said. 'Wait, Vidalia is two hours away.' And then I saw a sign, 'Welcome to Mississippi' and I turned to him and said, 'This is the last stop before Mississippi!'. He was from that area, so he said, 'Yeah, I know.'"
Fitzhugh said he figured the two teams would play the two years they signed up for and end it there.
"But we decided to keep playing and I am glad we did," he said. "We've probably split our games over those years. One thing about his team, they are going to be competitive."
Fitzhugh said he always looked forward to meeting Faircloth at the McDonald's Restaurant in Winnsboro for a film exchange.
"One time I brought my 5-year-old son with me and Coach Faircloth just struck up a conversation with him," Fitzhugh said. "He asked him if he wanted some Viking horns for his helmet and my son told him yes. That Friday night after the ballgame we are shaking hands after the game and he hands me some Viking horn stickers for my son. He has a plain white helmet and he loved those stickers. I just about got in trouble over that with my fans, but my son had to have those stickers. He still thinks a lot of Coach Faircloth."
In typical Dee Faircloth fashion, the long-time Viking coach wanted to keep his retirement low-key with no fanfare at all being made about it.
Sorry, Coach, but you just can't dismiss 41 years at a school with the success you generated over the years, including the 1973 team which had a then-record nine shutouts, allowing only 14 points during the regular season before losing to St. Louis of Lake Charles 13-12 in the Class 2A quarterfinals.
I see a Vidalia Viking logo on the back of a car or on a shirt and think - Dee Faircloth.
I go out of town and see a coach or player from another school and they ask about Dee Faircloth.
Dee Faircloth is Vidalia High. For more than 40 years he has walked the south sideline with the rolled up piece of paper in his hand, joking with an official on one play and asking him where he got his eyeglass prescription on the next play.
And then there's the kicking up of his leg when a pass play just misses or a running play almost breaks for long yardage. And, of course, the throwing a hat on a busted play.
Faircloth has walked across the field that now bears his name after a game so many times that there has to be imprints of his shoes down to the core.
Faircloth will no longer spend July standing in the middle of the field leading calisthenics, threatening the group half-heartily going through stretching exercises with extra 30-30s if they didn't do them right.
There will be no more cracking jokes about assistant coaches and players, while making sure every play is run just the way he wants it to be run.
Of course, the one that never went away was about his Viking team being on the Alamo wall with a formidable opponent waiting in the wings on Friday night.
"And we're running out of ammo."
At the start of this season, Faircloth was back on the Alamo wall, this time against a more serious and more foreboding opponent.
But in the same way he came out on top in so many other encounters, Faircloth will beat this one. It will be sad not to see him on the sideline anymore.
But it will be great to see him in the stands, relaxed and enjoying the sport that he mastered for so many years.
Keeping fighting the fight, Coach. I look forward to seeing you again at the football field that so fittingly carries your name.
Only you won't be where we are so used to seeing you.
And that is truly the end of an era.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|