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Laney legend Dupree passes away

Laney icon led 'Cats to a pair of state titles

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 10:54 AM
Last updated Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 2:21 AM
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Shedericka Edwards felt her father’s tension whenever Laney played its main rival in football.

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Ex-Laney football coach David Dupree, seen here with some trophies at the school in 2007, won 209 games at Laney and was the first black coach elected to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He died Wednesday at 88.  FILE/STAFF
Ex-Laney football coach David Dupree, seen here with some trophies at the school in 2007, won 209 games at Laney and was the first black coach elected to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. He died Wednesday at 88.

Team page: Laney Wildcats

Though Edwards’ parents each taught at Laney, she graduated from Josey in 1970. A band member in high school, Edwards knew to be careful around her father, David Dupree, when game week rolled around. If there’s one thing the legendary coach lived for, it was beating his school’s main rival.

“We were walking on glass for a whole week, but I would grin at him at the table,” said Edwards, who saw Josey defeat Laney just once in her time in high school. Dupree went 18-2 against the Eagles.

“It wasn’t a good week in my house.”

Wednesday wasn’t a good day in Augusta. Dupree, who led Laney to a pair of state championships in football and also was a successful track coach, died in the early morning hours. He was 88.

Edwards said her father went to University Hospital on Monday – his birthday – before ultimately dying at 2 a.m. Wednesday. Dupree had been on dialysis for a couple of years, but Edwards said his death was still unexpected.

Dupree became the Wildcats’ head football coach in 1958 and won state titles in the Georgia Interscholastic Association in 1961 and 1966. He remained head coach through the 1983 season and finished his career with a 209-60-13 record. In 1992, Dupree was the first black high school football coach elected to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

“The biggest thing he wanted to leave was not just about sports but education. He was a big proponent of getting as educated as you possibly can,” Edwards said. “He was like an icon.”

“More than anything, he was just family oriented,” said Laney defensive coordinator David Griffin, the last starting quarterback to play for Dupree. “He treated everybody as a son. He was hard and tough, but you respected him for all the things he did. It was an honor to be a Wildcat. And it was special, knowing going into the year that it was going to be his last year.”

Dupree grew up in Clemson, S.C., and went on to become a football star at Johnson C. Smith. In 1949, he was hired by Laney. Nine years later, he succeeded John Tutt as head football coach.

In the first nine years of Dupree’s 26-year football coaching stint, Laney dominated the GIA. In 1966, the Wildcats went 12-0, their defense allowing an average of 4.6 points a game.

Even when the Wildcats joined the Georgia High School Association in 1967, Dupree kept winning. During his run, he recorded 21 winning seasons. One of his most monumental victories came Sept. 23, 1967, the first integrated game in Georgia.

“(The Aquinas) Coach (Tom McDevitt) came to me and said he needed some money so I said ‘OK, I’ll play you,’” Dupree said in 2000. “He told me not to run the score up on him and I told him I wouldn’t. We played the game and the stands were packed, because everybody was interested in how it was going to come out.”

Dupree coached Laney to a 30-0 win over the Irish. Though the atmosphere was intense for the Saturday night game, the two teams recorded few penalties and shook hands afterward.

Dupree led the Wildcats to four more wins over Aquinas, their series ending in 1975. But more impressively, Dupree dominated rival Josey, winning 18 of 20 contests.

In 2009, Laney honored Dupree during halftime of a home football game, unveiling the David Dupree Field at Lucy C. Laney Memorial Stadium. Dupree received a bronze plaque, a painting and a standing ovation.

“This is a fitting honor for a man who spent a lot of time and sweat on these athletic fields,” former Laney and New York Jets running back Emerson Boozer said at the time. Boozer was a member of the Wildcats’ 1961 state championship team and a member of the Jets’ Super Bowl III winning squad; he was one of eight former Dupree disciples to play professionally.

Dupree remained a fixture at Laney practices and games long after he retired. Burke County coach Eric Parker, who led the Wildcats from 1997-2006, said Dupree was a good person to have around the program.

“After a win, it was always, ‘Coach, you guys look good,’” Parker said. “Not only was he a good football coach, he was a big-time Laney supporter.”


NAME: David Dupree

RECORD: 209-60-13



NOTABLE: In 1992, was the first black football coach inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

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madquack 09/12/12 - 11:32 am
A great Coach and a Good Human Being

I didn't get to know him personally, but he knew me and my family. He kept us boys in the class instead of in the restroom smoking and telling lies. He would come into the restroom swinging that ELBOW, and everyone would be tearing down the door, trying to get back to class. He will be missed by so many people, all over the world.

pgapeach2 09/12/12 - 12:16 pm
Coach Dupree

My condolences to the Dupree family. He was an outstanding football coach and teacher.

Jake 09/12/12 - 12:33 pm
Augusta legend

Sorry to hear of his passing. We (Aquinas) played Laney in 1967 and it was the first interracial football game in the CSRA, maybe in the state. Coach Dupree led his players on to the field and were quite an intimidating sight with their red uniforms and helmets. Laney also had a great band as well. The game was played without any serious altercations and I think Coach Dupree had a lot to do with not running up the score. May you rest in peace Coach Dupree.

Enyaw 09/12/12 - 12:52 pm
A True Legend

I have admired this great man through the eyes of my husband and son who are both Laney graduates and football players. He was truly a man of honor who believe that in order to achieve anything in life... it takes hard work. I will miss him at church however, I shall continue to uphold his spirit and genuine love for all he met. You will truly be missed but never forgotten.

willie7 09/12/12 - 04:35 pm
Great football coach and

Great football coach and story-teller. He had many storires to tell.
He saved many guys from the streets
Loved Tabernacle Church and the Soup Kitchen.
A great human being!!!

toppergem 09/12/12 - 04:41 pm
A Fine Augustan

Shedericka, your father was a great man and he was such a positive infuluence in the lives of many of the young men who happened to be lucky enough to come under his leadership at Laney and through the Augusta community. My condolences to you and your family at this very difficult time.

Thirty8 09/12/12 - 06:22 pm
Coach Dupree

Was way more than a football coach to me. There is no doubt he influenced me more than any football coach I have ever been associated with. Thank you so much for what you did for me and the community.


lloyd328 09/12/12 - 08:34 pm
Coach Dupree was a great man!

Coach Dupree was a great man! I learned so much from him during the time he coached me in running Track and Cross Country at Paine College. He was a great coach, great leader, great mentor, great man. He demanded excellence from us in all we did. I remember those 5 am practices and those 3 pm practices. I remember his jokes (funny), I remember his service (he use to pick up biscuits from Hardee's on 15th street every morning and take them to the homeless shelter. I remember his encouraging/fatherly talks. Those things meant a lot to me and I will truly be forever grateful for being blessed to know him. He was a motivator of excellence not just in athletics, but in education, and everything else in life. He was a God-fearing man, made us go to church on Sunday (we were not gonna be sleeping in on Sunday's on his watch), we were to be in someone's church worshiping God. My condolences go out to the Dupree family.

Gage Creed
Gage Creed 09/12/12 - 09:11 pm
Great story of a great

Great story of a great man....My condolences to the family and friends.

Vontresef 09/13/12 - 01:17 am
Deepest Condolences

It was an honor to know coach. I want to send my deepest condolences to the entire Dupree family. Paine College family will miss Coach Dupree.

samnelson7065 09/13/12 - 11:09 am
Legend Coach Dupree

my sympathy for the Dupree family. Coach Dupree was my favorite person at Laney...He was a wonderful man full of life. I will miss you.....R.I.P

ratutt 09/13/12 - 10:08 pm
Great coach but a greater man!

It was a priviledge to know and play football for someone who treated us all like young men, even when we didn't always act like young men! I remember being a 15 year old and not knowing what to expect in my first season in 1966 and how he made me feel like I belonged on his team! He had an impact on me on the field, in the class room and in my life! May he rest in peace and God bless his family!

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