Mac Thompson, the 39-year-old head football coach of Cook High in South Georgia, died of a massive heart attack on Wednesday evening.
It is the second tragedy for the school and football program in less than one year. In May, just three months after Thompson was hired, senior football player Roy White collapsed during spring practice and could not be revived.
Cook finished 7-6 in Thompson's only season and reached the Class AA quarterfinals. Thompson's final game was played in Buford, a 26-0 loss.
Thompson was 28-9 in three seasons at Calera, Ala., before coming to Cook. Thompson had been an assistant at Hoover, Ala., under Rush Propst, who is now the head coach of Colquitt County, which borders Cook near the Florida border.
"It's a sad time," Propst told the Birmingham News. "I feel very strongly about that man and his family."
Calera principal Richard Bishop told the newspaper that he learned from phone calls that Thomson passed out during school hours, was revived at a local hospital but suffered a heart attack during the evening.
"He left a big impact on our school," Bishop told the Birmingham newspaper. "The best word I can use to describe him is passionate. He was passionate in everything he did and he put his best foot forward into everything he did. He was a very dedicated man that left an imprint behind in this community."
Cook school officials declined comment Thursday, but principal Dr. Jute Wilson released this statement:
''Cook High head football coach Mac Thompson passed away Wednesday evening at Adel Memorial Hospital. Coach Thompson joined Cook High School this past year from Calera, Ala., [and] made an immediate impact, leading the Hornets to the third round of the state playoffs. Coach Thompson and his family plugged right into the community, being very active at New Life Baptist Church and were regulars in the Cook County athletic scene. Coach Thompson was 39 and is survived by his wife Regina and four boys, Kolby, Ethan, Mackenan and Isaak. We respectfully request no on-air interviews at this time.''
A memorial service was to be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at New Life Baptist Church in Adel. Thompson's funeral will be held at Concord Baptist Church in Calera, Ala., on Saturday, at 2 p.m.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.