Dee Faircloth stood on a very familiar sideline of Dee Faircloth Viking Stadium Saturday night, watching Block play Sicily Island in the first game of the Vidalia Jamboree, a jamboree he started back in 1972.

Faircloth was holding a clipboard with a roster of the six teams competing, watching the action while instructing the five visiting coaches involved what side they would be on and other specifics.

Meanwhile, Dee's nephew, Rob, was across the street on the Vidalia practice field sending his team through some final walk-throughs before they would face General Trass in the final game.

Four months ago, Dee was preparing for his 46th year as head coach at Vidalia High.

Then came the bombshell.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association released a memo updating a by-law that ruled retired coaches could not be head coaches in football or basketball.

Faircloth retired back in 2009 dealing with prostate cancer.

Jeff Hancock left Vidalia after the 2015 season for a college assistant coaching job. Faircloth, who returned to the sideline as an assistant when his cancer went into remission, returned as head coach two years ago, 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.

The Vikings went from being winless in 2011 to being a top 10 team in Class 2A two straight years under Faircloth. 

The Vidalia football program was back to being one of the most respected in the state. The Vikings were no longer everyone's Homecoming opponent.

I guess LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine has something against great comeback stories.

Rob was named interim coach and talked his uncle into staying on as an assistant coach, assisting with special teams while also being there for his nephew, who has admirably stepped in and stepped up as Vidalia High football coach.

I asked Dee while we were standing on the sideline watching Block and Sicily Island while the Vikings were warming up across the street did he miss the last minute speech and sending his team out to battle as a head coach.

Bill Engvall should have stepped in at that time and said, "Here's Your Sign."

Dee gave a very slight nod, ducked his head a bit and acknowledged he did miss preparing his team for the jamboree.

But there was also the pride factor of watching his nephew preparing for something that would deservedly come his way eventually.

Last year, as if he knew the time was coming, Dee basically let then-offensive coordinator Mike Norris and Rob as defensive coordinator run the show. Norris stepped aside before the crazy ruling to dedicate more time to the Viking baseball team he manages.

Seeing Rob accepting his new role may have helped ease the pain a bit Saturday night as Dee was in his customary thoughtful stance on the sideline watching the action while taking mental notes that were surely shared on Monday.

But it was apparent Rob was in charge, which is the way Dee wanted it.

The Vikings came away with a 6-0 win. The defense was lights out, while the offense sputtered at times but did what it had to do preserve the outcome.

Rob even spent extra time after the game talking to quarterback Terrance Charles, who is playing quarterback for the first time, replacing four-year starter Tristan Weatherly. 

Rob sees a lot of potential in "TC" and will continue to build him up as he becomes more and more comfortable at quarterback.

"I thought TC did a good job," Rob said. "He just has to block out the noise."

Rob knows his team has a lot of work ahead of them. But if you find a coach satisfied where they are after a jamboree then you have a rare find. 

With a minute left in the final quarter of the jamboree, there was confusion on the field after a play, which led to Rob walking out to midfield.

"Oh great," Dee said. "Now my nephew is going to get ejected."

I wonder what the rule is on retired coaches who are assistant coaches taking over for a coach who has been ejected?

You better get right on that LHSAA. We certainly don't want a legendary coach on the field as head coach.

Here's your sign.

 

 

 

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