Chris Summerville/ UnioNCounty Football
Sun Valley High School announced yesterday afternoon that head football coach Tad Baucom was stepping down after six years at the helm of the Spartans' football program.
The announcement comes a little more than one month after the news of the departure of Forest Hills' head football coach, Cory Smith.
Baucom recently served as an assistant coach for North Carolina in last year's 2019 Shrine Bowl played in December. It was a fitting honor for a man who has dedicated 38 years of his life to high school coaching.
In a press release posted by Sun Valley High School, "the decision to step down was made with a heavy heart, but at this time he needs to support his family through personal issues which will require more of his time outside of his teaching duties."
Baucom spent 31 of his 38-year coaching career on the sidelines or in the dugouts of Union County.
A fixture for me on the Spartans or Cougars (Central Academy) sideline ever since I started covering football here in the county back in 2011. Baucom worked a toothpick like actor Telly Savalas worked a lollipop back in his Kojak days.
I'll miss our long conversations about football and life. There is no doubting the positive impact he has made on past and present players- the end product of a successful coach.
I know this last season was not an easy one. The team lost 26 players to graduation, including the greatest QB in county history, Sam Howell. Few if any NFL teams rebound immediately after the departure of a prominent signal-caller, let alone a high school football team playing in one of the toughest conferences in the state.
Despite the difficult season, the coach persevered and still made time to chat even during his team's bye week when I ran into him while I was covering a Metrolina Christian game. A class act and a true family man, his grandchildren ever-present at that game as well as every other game I can remember covering.
I will imagine a long list of coaching candidates as a result of this opening. The new coach will inherit a team led by two of the best football players in the state next season in wide receiver Gavin Blackwell and offensive lineman, Michael Gonzalez. Also, the team has two of the most dynamic young players in the county in freshman quarterback Carson Black and running back Toney McFadden.
As for Coach Baucom, thank you for everything, and God Bless you and your family.