|County mourns Akers’ passing |
|Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 4:02 pm |
|Charles Akers, an instrumental football coaching figure in the most successful times at both Obion County Central and South Fulton high schools, died Tuesday at a Paducah hospital. |
He was 79.
The colorful Akers served as the head coach at both OCCHS and SF and was also the Devils’ offensive coordinator between his stints as head coach at the two Obion County schools.
He is one of just three coaches at Obion Central to have posted two winning seasons during their tenure at Troy and was in charge of the Rebels’ most successful back-to-back campaigns in 1973-74.
During those two years, OC went 8-2 and 9-2, respectively, losing to McKenzie in the Union City Civitan Bowl the first of those two seasons and then routing Oakhaven 34-6 to cap the only nine-win campaign in OCCHS history.
Most notably to some, Akers led the Rebels to the school’s first-ever win against rival Union City in that ’73 campaign, an 8-0 overtime triumph.
In all, he spent seven years at Central and had a 32-36-2 mark.
Clint Edmiston, the first-ever OCCHS head coach, was later an assistant to Akers and recalled his old-school mannerisms.
“He believed in hitting and getting hit in practice, the way the game is supposed to be played,” Edmiston said. “He was all business on the football field.
“He didn’t try to be anybody other than who he was. I just saw him and sat with him a couple of weeks ago at the Obion Central-Union City game. It’s hard to believe he’s gone.”
Akers also skippered South Fulton on two different occasions — from 1964-67 and during the 1984 seasons.
He orchestrated a remarkable turnaround in the Red Devil program from his first year on the job when SF went 0-10 until the following season when the Redmen posted a 9-1-1 mark and won the Reelfoot Conference championship game with a thrilling 31-28 victory over Greenfield.
South Fulton’s following year in 1966 was even better, a 10-1 finish that included a 19-7 triumph over Milan in the West Tennessee Jaycee Bowl.
Akers served as Kerry Curling’s offensive coordinator at SFHS from 1978-83, helping the Redmen to six straight winning seasons after the program had won just five games combined in the two seasons before he took over in that capacity.
South Fulton went 8-3 in ’78, capped by an appearance in the Civitan Bowl, and then recorded the most wins in a season in school history the following year when it finished 11-1 and advanced to the state quarterfinals. The Devils ended the regular season 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state in the Associated Press prep poll.
Akers returned to the head coaching ranks at SF for one year in 1984 to make his five-year record at the school 26-24-1.
James Counce, a star player for the Red Devils during Akers’ first stint and one who has enjoyed much success as a head coach himself at Henry County and Dyersburg, said Akers had a great influence on his life.
“He was my mentor as a player, and he’s the reason I’ve been involved in coaching for 37 years now,” Counce told The Messenger. “I had so much respect and love for him as a player and a coach, and he had a tremendous impact on my life.”
Current Graves County High School Principal Ward Bushart, who was a young assistant on the SF staff during the days when Akers was a play-caller for the Devils during their glory days in the late ’70s and early ’80s, said his former cohort was ahead of his time as an offensive mind.
“He was a genius offensively,” Bushart claimed. “I thought that then, and I believe that now.
“I always thought that Charles related well to kids. And I never saw him treat a child any different than he would’ve treated one of his own.”
Funeral arrangements for Akers will be announced by Hornbeak Funeral Home in Fulton.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.