He was the Lincoln County High School football coach who stepped down in 1972 to make way for one of his assistants.
That assistant was the yet-to-be-legendary Larry Campbell.
“It is an honor for me to take over from a man like Thomas Bunch,” Campbell told The Augusta Chronicle at the time. “I hope to accomplish half the things he accomplished at Lincoln County.”
We’d like to nominate that last sentence as possibly the Greatest Understatement Ever.
All Campbell did was become the winningest high-school football coach in Georgia history.
And for the first time in 44 years, Campbell won’t be on the sidelines coaching the Red Devils. He announced his retirement Friday.
His 42-year career as a head coach is astonishing. His teams chalked up 477 wins. Eleven state titles. Eight undefeated seasons.
Most any high-school coach would be tickled pink to see even one of his players advance to the NFL. Campbell saw six of his turn pro.
“When you think you’re done, (Campbell) sees more in you,” said Garrison Hearst, a two-time Pro Bowl running back and 1990 Lincoln County grad. “Stuff like that you’re able to take through life, not so much on the football field but as a dad, as a husband, as a citizen. He just made a difference.”
What Campbell accomplished as a coach reaches beyond the wins and losses, the Xs and Os. He touched the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of young athletes, molding so many of them into better citizens.
And he touched an entire community. When folks think of Lincoln County, most of them can’t help but think of Larry Campbell.
We’ll be thinking of him – the best of him – for years to come.