"Country Living, City Style" is the longtime McDuffie County mantra that has brought one former Thomson High coach back to town. Coach Jimmy Kilpatrick was an assistant football coach to Joe Compton in 1968 and 1969. Coach Kilpatrick and his wife Margaret, both natives of Philadelphia, Miss., recently relocated from Cochran, Ga.
Coach Jimmy Kilpatrick
The Kilpatricks had lived in Cochran since 1973 but desired to move closer to their son and his family who live in Evans. Their son has two boys, ages 8 and 4, and they were tiring of the seven-hour roundtrip from middle Georgia for T-ball games. They also have a daughter with a two-year-old son living in Los Angeles.
When asked why they chose to live in Thomson, Coach Kilpatrick jumped to a reply. "Too many cars in Columbia County," he said. "I had to be away from that rat race."
Coach Kilpatrick took an unusual route into the coaching profession. After spending two years at Southern Mississippi University, he entered the Army. While in the Army, his being older than the other soldiers often put him in charge of groups organizing to play various sports during their leisure time.
"That is what made me realize that I wanted to be a coach," he said. "After the military, I returned to Southern Mississippi with that in mind."
Coach Kilpatrick joined Coach Compton at Fitzgerald High School in south Georgia. He followed him to Thomson and after two years landed the head job at Washington County. After three years in Sandersville he moved to Cochran/Bleckley County High School where he served as head coach for 18 years. He concluded his career in administration before retiring to essentially a fulltime life of golf and hunting.
The Compton/Kilpatrick combination followed Coach Paul Leroy and the 1967 state championship. Obviously the pressure would be on to please the rabid Bulldog faithful. They incorporated the unorthodox Notre Dame Box offense that had been successful for them in the past. This led to a surprising choice as Coach Kilpatrick's most memorable moment on the Thomson sideline.
"We were playing Evans early in the season and quickly found ourselves behind 20-0," he reminisced. "The Box was really backfiring on us and we spotted Evans the 20 off turnovers."
"We were only separated from the fans by chicken wire, and I asked Coach Compton what he was going to do about the Box now," Kilpatrick said. "Same thing," was Compton's typically blunt reply.
Kilpatrick offered that Compton's intensity paid off and the Bulldogs went on to beat Evans 39-20. The Bulldogs repeated as Class A state champions, no small feat for a new coaching staff even with a player like Ray Guy leading the way. In other words, they didn't mess up a good thing.
Besides Compton, Kilpatrick mentions Bobby Gentry of Hawkinsville, Dan Pitts of Mary Persons and Thomson's Ed McIntyre as positively influencing him. He also refers to Dot Knox's brother, Joe Meadows, as one of the toughest players he ever coached.
"Joe was a tough 195-lb. tackle. With all those sisters, you might would've thought he was spoiled, but he helped us to a 10-0 record his senior year," he said with a laugh.
That's right; the Kilpatricks join the first lady of Thomson as well as Bulldog head baseball coach Terry Holder as being formerly from Cochran. Mrs. Knox and Coach Holder are Cochran natives. Coach Kilpatrick coached against Holder when Holder was at Wilkinson County. I coached against Coach Kilpatrick in 1988 when I was an assistant at Screven County. It is a small world.
Coach Kilpatrick still has coaching in his blood and spends a lot of time working with his 8 year-old grandson on the golf course. "From the lady's tee, he can be on the green in three," he marveled.
Please join me in welcoming the Kilpatricks to Thomson and further retirement pleasure.