Jack Holley passed away Monday afternoon. He and Dale Earnhardt were the only two people who ever intimidated me when I tried to interview them. The bucket hat wearing, tabacco chewing, sideline squatting legend quickly became one of my favorite people to have a conversation with. He molded many boys into men and just happened to become North Carolina's all time winningest coach in the process. He finished with a 412-96 record in 44 seasons.
I found a new level of respect for how he handled the disappointment of having his first state title ripped away from him in the closing minutes of the 2004 state championship game. Up 14-8 with a minute to go and trying to run out the clock, the Bulldog ball carrier clearly had his knee down when he was hit and fumbled. Thomasville returned it for the game winning TD and a 15-14 win. Jack never shed a tear, said those things happen and we will get 'em next year. He never did win that title with WRH. The 'Dogs lost to Thomasville by a point in 2005, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
But more than anything I will remember how he celebrated with his children after winning the eastern regional in Dowdy-Ficklin stadium. I will remember him coaching with Battle Holley, both squatting on the sidlelines almost like they were drawing up plays in the dirt. But that never happened, they were way to organized and disciplined. Maybe Battle's greatest accomplishment was coaxing Jack to appear as a guest coach on "The Blitz" even though he was a man of few words.
I will always remember him hanging out with his grandson at all sorts of sporting events and showing up at just about any location to watch a game. I will remember his stories about the good ol' days as a small offensive lineman. He was as tough a man as I ever knew and he will be missed. But he won't be forgotten. Jack Holley was 74 years old.
A funeral service for Jack Holley will be held Friday at 6pm at Legion Stadium in Wallace. Interment is to follow at Rockfish Cemetery