Vidalia High head football coach Dee Faircloth resigned last week following an Louisiana High School Athletic Association by-law that prevents coaches who have retired from being a head coach in football and basketball.
Faircloth was head coach at Vidalia from 1969-2009 before having to step down while battling prostate cancer.
After Jeff Hancock left Vidalia after the 2015, Faircloth, who was assisting and is in remission from cancer, returned as head coach, leading Vidalia to a 3-7 record in 2016, 9-2 in 2017 and 9-4 last year as the Vikings reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
Faircloth was unavailable for comment, but Concordia Parish Superintendent Whest Shirley and Vidalia High principal Bernie Cooley verified the longtime coach's resignation.
"I don't think I can say anything that hasn't already been said about Dee Faircloth," Shirley said. "He's a class act that will surely be missed. He has been a mentor and father figure to so many. He has shown us the right way to lead young men and women into the future. His legacy will last forever."
Cooley said bringing Faircloth back to Vidaila was the "best hire I ever made."
Cooley played for Faircloth back in the 1980s.
"I'm glad to be the principal who brought Dee back to Vidalia, but hate to be the principal that lost him," Cooley said.
Cooley said he met with all the Vidalia High coaches and they all agreed that Rob Faircloth, Dee's nephew, should be the interim head coach.
Rob just completed his fourth year at Vidalia.
Rob was the 2017 Concordia Parish Educator of the Year.
Rob served as defensive coordinator at Vidalia.
"It's very unfortunate that Dee was unable to go out on his own terms but he has done a great job of grooming his coaches behind him," Cooley said. "Rob will continue the success Vidalia has had under Dee."
Ferriday High head coach Stanley Smith, who played against Faircloth before coaching against him, said Faircloth received a bad deal.
"I think Coach Faircloth earned the right to do what he was doing," Smith said. "He certainly got things going back for them. It's a big blow for their school and community."
The Vikings went from being winless in 2011 to being a top 10 team in Class 2A two straight years.
Faircloth is ranked 18th overall all-time wins by a Louisiana high school football coach, and is sixth among active coaches with an overall record of 274-197 over 45 years.
Faircloth arrived in Vidaila in 1968 as an assistant coach to Don Alonzo.
When Alonzo accepted the head coaching job at St. Aloysius in Vicksburg the next year, Faircloth began and long and successful stint as Viking head coach.
Vidalia opens the 2019 football season at Sicily Island on September 6.