Tucker Is Now State's Winningest Prep Football Coach
Friday night’s 35-7 Fayette County win over Haleyville was a big night for head coach Waldon Tucker. Even he didn’t exactly know how big his milestone 303rd prep football coaching victory would be.
Moments after the final buzzer closed the books on the historic win that made Tucker the state’s all-time winningest prep fooball coach, fans lined the field in a victory column heading to the goal line. Dignitaries, including Fayette mayor Ray Nelson, came onto the field and Principal Rayford Hester had some special surprises in store for him.
Tucker, who now has a 303-123-2 career coaching record in the state, moved past Luverne’s Glenn Daniel, who retired in 1992 with 302 wins. Daniel remains the winningest coach in AHSAA history with all his victories coming at AHSAA member schools Pine Hill and Luverne. Tucker, who 278 wins currently in the AHSAA, won 25 games at non-AHSAA member school Demopolis Academy, then the rest at Gordo and for the last 27 seasons at Fayette.
The win over Haleyville was enough to draw out the emotion of the night for Tucker, but Hester’s surprises caught him off guard. First, Fayette County Superintendent of Education Reba Anderson announced her plans to ask the school board to name the field in his honor. She pointed out that it has been Tucker that groomed the field’s manicured turf so masterfully for the last three decades. Other dignitaries pointed out that he also groomed the many young men in his football program with the same care to be successful in life.
The mayor, who coached with Tucker in his early years at Fayette, praised Tucker’s contributions to the city as the Tigers coach and a two-term city councilman. He then announced the city council has named the road outside the stadium “Waldon Tucker Drive.”
“It’s been a great run. I’ve had a lot of good football players and great football coaches,” Tucker said. “To be successful, you have to have that first. This is a great community with great support and a great administration. They let us do things our way.”
While Tucker is contemplating retirement along with longtime friend and principal Hester. Tucker pointed out prior to Friday’s game that any victory in his win column belongs to men like Hester and all his assistant coaches like longtime friend Jim Burkhalter, who played for him on Gordo's 1980 state championship team and coached with him for more than two decades at Fayette. Tucker said the milestone especially belongs to the many students who have played for him.
He didn’t leave the 2010 team out. “These are special kids,” he said.
The Linden native said Fayette has been a wonderful place to raise his family – a great place to call home. Now, his home bears his name – on a city street and the field where he has won 225 games since his arrival 27 years ago.
In Friday's win over Haleyville, junior Cameron Poe-Mitchell scored four touchdowns to up his season total to 12 in four games.