KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- When reflecting on 41 years of coaching football, Hall of Fame high school head coach Clark Duncan said one word comes to mind: relationships.
“We have so many kids that come from different walks of life and when you can show kids that you loved them and you can love on them, they’ll reciprocate that and you can be successful,” said Duncan.
Those relationships he built during his time as an assistant coach at Fulton, 17 years at the helm of Powell football, and the last 13 years as the head football coach at South-Doyle High School helped him reach over 200 career wins.
Despite the accolades on the gridiron that landed him in the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 2020, Duncan takes pride in the impact he made on young lives that goes beyond the x’s and o’s.
“I can go back over four decades and I probably couldn’t tell you how many wins or losses we had, but I can tell you about the relationships and what we’ve done for kids, and helped them to be better men,” said Duncan.
While the rain-soaked 2019 region championship when the Cherokees beat the Central Bobcats or the 2012 overtime win over Morristown West that ignited South-Doyle’s success stands out as fond memories…it is the moments he made with his daughter around the game that means more than any touchdown.
“Every Thursday night she and I had a dinner date, I still have the list on my desk of where we were going to go, and we’d talk about the game,” said an emotional Duncan reflected on the treasured moments.
At age 63, Duncan decided he wanted to pursue other adventures like golfing in the fall, spending time on the lake, and more importantly, with his grandchildren which ultimately led to his retirement.
“For the last 55 years I have either played football or coached it and so I’ve never had a fall to do what I wanted to do and I think it’s just that time,” said Duncan.
The longtime football coach turned Powell and South-Doyle from 0-10 teams to competitive respected programs during his tenures. He now looks forward to finding his successor at South-Doyle who can take the program to the next level and do it the right way.
“I think there’s a lot of boxes to be checked, not one particular thing but I think it is somebody that’s been in coaching, has had success, can build relationships with kids, that has had a lot of meaningful responsibilities as a coach,” said Duncan.
“We preach the program is about the past present and future, it’s not about me or anyone individuals. As I leave we want that next guy to come in and bring some new energy and make changes if need be and I’m going to support him 100%.”