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Cougars prepare to honor legend

The Pulaski County Cougars face a big task this week as they look to take down the AAA Division 6 Franklin County Eagles. The game isn’t the only big story this week, however, as a long time honor is finally going to become a reality.
The Cougars can expect a very tough game this Friday night against the Eagles. Franklin County is a very large school loaded with talent, and they will be looking to put a stop to the Cougars’ win streak early in the season. They would also love to put a damper on the night for a legend who is being honored that night, as the playing surface at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium is officially named “Joel Hicks Field,” in honor of former Head Coach Joel Hicks.
Now for the details of this special night. First of all, let me tell you that EVERYONE is invited to come by and take a moment to say hello and thank you to Coach Hicks before the game. There will be a special area set up under the pine trees between the main field and the practice field, where Coach Hicks will be meeting with everyone who wants to come by.
At halftime there will be several special activities taking place. To start things off, Coach Hicks is asking that all former players and coaches meet with him under the flag pole when there are five minutes left in the second quarter. At the start of the extended halftime, Coach Hicks wishes to walk down the steps one more time with those former players and coaches as the band plays “2001” one more time for him. The team will form up at the bottom of the steps to form a human chain to honor Coach Hicks, as many of the current coaches are former players themselves.
After going on the field, Southwest Times sports writer Dan Callahan will read the accomplishments of Coach Hicks for the crowd. Next, the Pulaski County School Board and local government officials will take a moment to honor coach also.
Finally, as the field is officially named in honor of Coach Hicks, former Northside head coach Jim Hickam and former Salem coach Willis White will unveil the sign on the press box. At the same time, Callahan and the Pulaski County Touchdown Club will unveil a special monument in honor of Hicks, and Pulaski County School personnel will remove the covering on the new main entrance monument to the stadium that can be seen from the main road in front of the school. Coach Hicks will then say a few words, and then we’ll get back to the second half of Cougar football.
To say the least, this is a big night for the Cougar Football program.
Hicks’ accomplishments are nothing short of legendary, but to be honest he wasn’t supposed to be a football coach at all. When Hicks was first hired at Big Creek High School in West Virginia, he was hired on as the head basketball coach. When he arrived to check in shortly before the school year started, he was informed that due to the departure of their current coach, Hicks was now the head football coach. This was two weeks before their first game in 1964, and the Big Creek Owls finished the season 3-7. It was the only losing season that Joel Hicks ever had as a head football coach.
In 1965, the Owls went 5-4-1. The next two seasons they went 9-1. In 1968, they went 8-2, giving Hicks an overall record of 34-15-1 in five years at Big Creek High School.
Next he moved on to Woodrow Wilson High School. Unlike his first year at Big Creek, Hicks finished his first year at 6-4. The next season, they went 7-3. Over the next five years, his teams went a respective 9-1, 8-2, 9-1, 10-0 and 8-2. He finished his time at Woodrow Wilson with a fine 57-13 record.
Coach Hicks, having seen success at his chosen profession, was then offered a job at his college alma mater. He coached at the University of West Virginia as an assistant coach from 1975-1978.
Then fate happened. Pulaski County High School had just come off of its fifth year of football, and had only managed one winning record, which was a 5-4-1 mark in 1977. We were 14-33-3 in five years of football. The community wanted more, and it was up to the powers that be to make the big decisions to get more.
On a cold snowy night in Morgantown, West Virginia, Pulaski County Touchdown Club member and former player for Coach Hicks at Big Creek High School Dan Callahan delivered an offer on behalf of those in charge, and Hicks accepted.
Immediately upon his arrival, Coach Hicks began to implement his system. He got weight lifting equipment to make his kids stronger. He made them run countless laps and stadium steps. He put them in new uniforms and instilled a sense of pride and belonging in them.
In his first year at Pulaski County High School, 1979, Joel Hicks went 9-3 and gave the Cougars their first ever trip to the playoffs. They made it to the Regional Championship, where they lost to Patrick Henry 14-7.
Over the remainder of his 24 years as head coach for the Cougars, Joel Hicks never had a losing season. He finished out his career after the 2002 season with a 210-68 record at Pulaski County High School. For his career, he finished with 301 wins, 96 losses, and 1 tie.
During his time at PCHS he played against competition from not only Virginia, but also from West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. His first District Championship came in 1982, his fourth season at PCHS. He finished with a total of 15 (1982, ‘83, ‘84, ‘86, ‘88, ‘89, ‘91, ‘92, ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, 2000 and 2001). He won his first Region Championship in 1983, and finished with a total of six (1983, ‘84, ‘92, ‘93, 2000, 2001).
Coach Hicks took his teams to the playoffs in 18 out of his 24 seasons. His teams played a total of 42 playoff games, winning 23 of them. He has lead his teams to three State Title games, winning the 1992 Division 6 State Championship.
He had three perfect regular seasons, and twelve seasons where he won 9 games or more. In 1993, the Pulaski County Cougars were ranked as the #10 team in the NATION by “USA Today.” He was the District Coach of the Year 7 times, he was the Region Coach of the Year 4 times, and was selected as the State Coach of the Year 3 times. On top of all of that, he coached in 6 State All Star Games.
Coach Hicks has helped put four young men into the NFL (Gary Clark, Todd Grantham, Shane Graham and Jeff King), and has sent 16 players to major Division 1 colleges to continue their time on the field.
Since retiring as head coach, he has continued to work with the youth of Pulaski County, and has instituted a special Advanced Physical Education program for physically and mentally challenged students at PCHS. In his spare time, he runs marathons. He has run a total of 25, including running in the Boston Marathon 3 times.
In case you’ve never been invited, allow me to be the first. We want the biggest crowd possible to make this evening a huge success. Join us as we’ll cheer for the Cougar football team as they take on the Franklin County Eagles, and as we honor one of our own, one of our family, one of our leaders.
Game time is 7:30, pre-game activities will begin as soon as the main gates are open to the public. Come on out, enjoy a fine Friday night of football, and help us say thank you to a great coach and a fine man.

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Cougars prepare to honor legend

The Pulaski County Cougars face a big task this week as they look to take down the AAA Division 6 Franklin County Eagles. The game isn’t the only big story this week, however, as a long time honor is finally going to become a reality.
The Cougars can expect a very tough game this Friday night against the Eagles. Franklin County is a very large school loaded with talent, and they will be looking to put a stop to the Cougars’ win streak early in the season. They would also love to put a damper on the night for a legend who is being honored that night, as the playing surface at Kenneth J. Dobson Stadium is officially named “Joel Hicks Field,” in honor of former Head Coach Joel Hicks.
Now for the details of this special night. First of all, let me tell you that EVERYONE is invited to come by and take a moment to say hello and thank you to Coach Hicks before the game. There will be a special area set up under the pine trees between the main field and the practice field, where Coach Hicks will be meeting with everyone who wants to come by.
At halftime there will be several special activities taking place. To start things off, Coach Hicks is asking that all former players and coaches meet with him under the flag pole when there are five minutes left in the second quarter. At the start of the extended halftime, Coach Hicks wishes to walk down the steps one more time with those former players and coaches as the band plays “2001” one more time for him. The team will form up at the bottom of the steps to form a human chain to honor Coach Hicks, as many of the current coaches are former players themselves.
After going on the field, Southwest Times sports writer Dan Callahan will read the accomplishments of Coach Hicks for the crowd. Next, the Pulaski County School Board and local government officials will take a moment to honor coach also.
Finally, as the field is officially named in honor of Coach Hicks, former Northside head coach Jim Hickam and former Salem coach Willis White will unveil the sign on the press box. At the same time, Callahan and the Pulaski County Touchdown Club will unveil a special monument in honor of Hicks, and Pulaski County School personnel will remove the covering on the new main entrance monument to the stadium that can be seen from the main road in front of the school. Coach Hicks will then say a few words, and then we’ll get back to the second half of Cougar football.
To say the least, this is a big night for the Cougar Football program.
Hicks’ accomplishments are nothing short of legendary, but to be honest he wasn’t supposed to be a football coach at all. When Hicks was first hired at Big Creek High School in West Virginia, he was hired on as the head basketball coach. When he arrived to check in shortly before the school year started, he was informed that due to the departure of their current coach, Hicks was now the head football coach. This was two weeks before their first game in 1964, and the Big Creek Owls finished the season 3-7. It was the only losing season that Joel Hicks ever had as a head football coach.
In 1965, the Owls went 5-4-1. The next two seasons they went 9-1. In 1968, they went 8-2, giving Hicks an overall record of 34-15-1 in five years at Big Creek High School.
Next he moved on to Woodrow Wilson High School. Unlike his first year at Big Creek, Hicks finished his first year at 6-4. The next season, they went 7-3. Over the next five years, his teams went a respective 9-1, 8-2, 9-1, 10-0 and 8-2. He finished his time at Woodrow Wilson with a fine 57-13 record.
Coach Hicks, having seen success at his chosen profession, was then offered a job at his college alma mater. He coached at the University of West Virginia as an assistant coach from 1975-1978.
Then fate happened. Pulaski County High School had just come off of its fifth year of football, and had only managed one winning record, which was a 5-4-1 mark in 1977. We were 14-33-3 in five years of football. The community wanted more, and it was up to the powers that be to make the big decisions to get more.
On a cold snowy night in Morgantown, West Virginia, Pulaski County Touchdown Club member and former player for Coach Hicks at Big Creek High School Dan Callahan delivered an offer on behalf of those in charge, and Hicks accepted.
Immediately upon his arrival, Coach Hicks began to implement his system. He got weight lifting equipment to make his kids stronger. He made them run countless laps and stadium steps. He put them in new uniforms and instilled a sense of pride and belonging in them.
In his first year at Pulaski County High School, 1979, Joel Hicks went 9-3 and gave the Cougars their first ever trip to the playoffs. They made it to the Regional Championship, where they lost to Patrick Henry 14-7.
Over the remainder of his 24 years as head coach for the Cougars, Joel Hicks never had a losing season. He finished out his career after the 2002 season with a 210-68 record at Pulaski County High School. For his career, he finished with 301 wins, 96 losses, and 1 tie.
During his time at PCHS he played against competition from not only Virginia, but also from West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. His first District Championship came in 1982, his fourth season at PCHS. He finished with a total of 15 (1982, ‘83, ‘84, ‘86, ‘88, ‘89, ‘91, ‘92, ‘93, ‘94, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, 2000 and 2001). He won his first Region Championship in 1983, and finished with a total of six (1983, ‘84, ‘92, ‘93, 2000, 2001).
Coach Hicks took his teams to the playoffs in 18 out of his 24 seasons. His teams played a total of 42 playoff games, winning 23 of them. He has lead his teams to three State Title games, winning the 1992 Division 6 State Championship.
He had three perfect regular seasons, and twelve seasons where he won 9 games or more. In 1993, the Pulaski County Cougars were ranked as the #10 team in the NATION by “USA Today.” He was the District Coach of the Year 7 times, he was the Region Coach of the Year 4 times, and was selected as the State Coach of the Year 3 times. On top of all of that, he coached in 6 State All Star Games.
Coach Hicks has helped put four young men into the NFL (Gary Clark, Todd Grantham, Shane Graham and Jeff King), and has sent 16 players to major Division 1 colleges to continue their time on the field.
Since retiring as head coach, he has continued to work with the youth of Pulaski County, and has instituted a special Advanced Physical Education program for physically and mentally challenged students at PCHS. In his spare time, he runs marathons. He has run a total of 25, including running in the Boston Marathon 3 times.
In case you’ve never been invited, allow me to be the first. We want the biggest crowd possible to make this evening a huge success. Join us as we’ll cheer for the Cougar football team as they take on the Franklin County Eagles, and as we honor one of our own, one of our family, one of our leaders.
Game time is 7:30, pre-game activities will begin as soon as the main gates are open to the public. Come on out, enjoy a fine Friday night of football, and help us say thank you to a great coach and a fine man.

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