Hughes, Pilcher to be honored

Published 10:15 am Friday, May 29, 2009

Saturday, June 6, will be a special day for Bainbridge Georgia Industries for the Blind executive director and former Thomasville High School Bulldogs and Colquitt County High School Packers head football coach Jim Hughes and Bainbridge High School Bearcats head football coach Ed Pilcher.

Hughes, who won three state championships, two at Thomasville in 1973 and 1974 and one at Colquitt County in 1994, and had a career coaching record of 247-102-4, will be inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the association’s annual luncheon that day in Dalton, and Pilcher will introduce him and receive a special award himself.

Pilcher will receive the Dwight Keith Award, which goes annually to a Georgia coach in commemoration of Dwight Keith’s service as secretary of the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association for 35 years and his enduring contribution to amateur sports in Georgia and the nation.

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Coach Hughes was 107-34-2 at Thomasville from 1970 to 1982 and 140-68-2 at Colquitt County from 1983 to 1999. He took 24 of his teams to the postseason and had a career record of 24-8 in state playoff games.

Coach Pilcher said he asked to have the honor of introducing Hughes for his Hall of Fame induction because he respects him so much as a coach and person.

“When I was at Thomas County Central High School, one of our great rivalry games each year was with coach Hughes’ Colquitt County team,” Pilcher said. “It was a good, clean rivalry between two class programs.

“We had so much respect for each other that folks used to say when we walked off the field after a game, you could not tell which one of us won and which one of us lost,” Pilcher said.

“It was a great honor when he asked me to be on his Georgia Senior All-Star coaching staff in 1997 when we beat the Florida Senior All-Stars 25-14 in the first game of the series played in Atlanta,” Pilcher said. “As far as the award I am receiving, I am very humbled to receive such an honor from the association.”

Coach Hughes, who is already a member of the Sports Hall of Fames in Thomas County and Colquitt County, graduated from Cordele High School in 1955 and went on to Vanderbilt University where he earned degrees in English and philosophy. He later earned a master’s degree in administration and a doctorate degree in education administration from Auburn University.

He joined coach Lee Forehand’s Thomasville coaching staff in 1966 and became the Bulldogs head coach four years later.

Hughes told Moultrie Observer sports editor Wayne Grandy that after spending his career building teams, it was difficult to respond to individual awards, adding that the coaches and players he was associated with over the three decades share in it.