Joe Wilson, the coach who put Lowndes football on the map by upsetting Valdosta in 1977 and winning a state title in 1980, died Tuesday morning. He was 87.
“Upon his hire Wilson made promises many thought impossible,” Lowndes County Schools director of information Owen Prince said in an email Tuesday announcing the news. “He promised winning records, victories over rivals, and state championships. From an 8-2 record in ’76, to a victory over Valdosta in ’77, to a state championship in ’80, the ‘Silver Haired Fox,’ as Wilson was known, more than delivered on his promises. He gave us our beloved Plowboy and taught us to take pride in our program and to be proud of our heritage.”
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Wilson played on Valdosta’s 1951 Class A championship team and was an assistant on several state-winning Valdosta teams under Wright Bazemore, including Bazemore’s final title in 1971.
Wilson was disappointed at not becoming Bazemore’s successor. In 1976, Wilson got the job as Lowndes’ head coach and immediately led the Vikings to an 8-2 finish, their first winning season in history. In 1977, Lowndes beat Valdosta for the first time, 7-2.
“That was just unheard of that Lowndes could beat Valdosta,” Wilson told Georgia High School Football Daily in an interview last fall when asked his most memorable moment as a coach. “They (Lowndes players) didn’t know how to act. Then winning the state championship. That was monumental. But I’d have to say 7-to-2. Everyone thought it was impossible.”
Wilson was Lowndes’ head coach from 1976-88. He coached from 1989-94 at Valwood. Wilson regularly attended Lowndes home games in his retirement and saw the program he kick-started go on to win four more state titles.
Lowndes dedicated Joe Wilson Field at Martin Stadium in Wilson’s honor Sept. 20.
Wilson had suffered a stroke several days ago. Funeral arrangements have not been made.
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