OCILLA, Ga. (WALB) - It’s been one year since beloved Irwin County Head Football Coach Buddy Nobles passed away from stomach cancer.
He was the cornerstone of his team and community for many years.
Just over a year ago, Buddy Nobles led Irwin County to its second state title.
Irwin County Head Football Coach Casey Soliday said, “It was almost more pressure because we didn’t know what the future had and would hold for him. So, it just felt like a lot of pressure like we got to get this one, we got to get this one taken care of.”
The next month, he passed away after a long battle with stomach cancer.
In six seasons, Buddy had five championship appearances.
In the 61 years before Buddy, the Indians had four championship appearances and one title.
His wife, Tammy Nobles, told me it was never about the state championships for Buddy.
“He always said as much as he loved coaching football, that winning a state championship would not be his legacy. His legacy would be what he poured into his kids and hopefully teaching them about Jesus and his love for Jesus,” said Tammy.
Buddy’s son and Indians offensive live coach, Kasey Nobles, said, “He wanted to build a lasting program, and I think it’s showing, and I think it’ll show in the next few years as well that this program was built to last.”
Tammy continued, “He came to stay. He didn’t come as a springboard to a different job. He came to stay.”
The Indians found themselves in the title game once again in 2020.
Soliday added, “After we won it and everyone is celebrating, my mind went back to him being up on the stage, thinking about his speech and the way that he talked, and just how strong he was up there. Could I have been that strong in the situation that he was in, I don’t know. Just the things he said and the way he carried himself that definitely went through my mind.”
A bittersweet one for Tammy.
“Going into each stadium and looking out there before and seeing Buddy on the sidelines. You know, he loved what he did. He loved Irwin County and him not being there was emotional,” said Tammy.
Buddy undoubtedly meant the world to this program.
So at the start of the regular season, the school honored their beloved head coach.
“When you walk in, and you hear them say ‘Buddy Nobles Stadium,’ Wow, wow, just wow. All the things that he put in here it just means so, so much, I love it,” said Tammy.
Kasey added, “That was tough I almost didn’t want to look up. I was about to be boohooing.”
While Buddy will no longer be seen on the sidelines with his playsheet, his legacy will.
Soliday said in a postgame interview at the 2020 state championship game, “He meant a lot, a lot of the character on this team comes from him, and don’t think he ain’t on our mind while we’re doing this.”
“And every time I hear it, it’s going to put a smile on my face just to know what an honor it was and just what a blessing it is for him to have the stadium named after him after what he put into it,” said Tammy.
Kasey added, “He’s a legend.”