Ed Pilcher, football coach who won five state titles, dies at age 72

Ed Pilcher, Bainbridge - Pilcher surprised many when he left Thomas Central after 17 seasons. He won five state titles at TCC, all in the 1990s.

Credit: W.A. Bridges Jr. / AJC file

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Ed Pilcher, Bainbridge - Pilcher surprised many when he left Thomas Central after 17 seasons. He won five state titles at TCC, all in the 1990s.

Credit: W.A. Bridges Jr. / AJC file

Credit: W.A. Bridges Jr. / AJC file

Ed Pilcher, best known for winning five state championships as Thomas County Central’s football coach in the 1990s, died Thursday. He was 72.

Pilcher’s record was 250-116-1 over 30 seasons. The victory total is tied for 24th all-time among GHSA coaches.

Pilcher, a Florida native, became a head coach at Early County and reached two Class 2A semifinals before moving on to Thomas Central, where he worked from 1991 to 2007.

Pilcher won his first state title, also the school’s first, in 1992. That team’s 1-5 start remains the worst for an eventual champion. The ‘92 Yellow Jackets won their final nine games that year and five titles over seven seasons.

Pilcher’s ‘93 team beat cross-town rival Thomasville 14-12 in one of the most memorable championship games in state history. Before a standing-room crowd, Thomas Central stopped Thomasville four times inside the 4-yard line in the final minutes.

Then in 1997, Thomas Central finished 15-0. That team was led by former Georgia Tech star Joe Burns, who was Pilcher’s best-known former player.

Pilcher also coached at Bainbridge (2008-12) and finished at Berrien (2013-15).

Pilcher was asked in a 2016 interview with the AJC to name his favorite saying or motto.

“Never get tired of doing the right thing,’' he answered. “It goes back to a quote out of Galatians 6:9. ‘Do the right thing, and in due time, you’ll reap the benefits.’ "

Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Monday at Thomasville First Baptist Church followed by burial at Sunset Cemetery. A celebration of Pilcher’s life is scheduled at the church afterward. A viewing of the body is scheduled Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. at Allen & Allen Funeral Service in Thomasville.

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