Former Alabama football player and Valley High head football coach Doug Lockridge has died at age 79. This guy was coach at Valley when I was going to school in Lanett. They were our arch-rivals. He was one helluva coach. I got the following in an email.
Dan Washburn remembers being in awe of Doug Lockridge when Washburn was a young coach just breaking into the business in the early 1960s at Valley High.
"He was an awesome coach," Washburn said. "He got a lot out of kids. He got more than any coach I've ever seen out of the personnel he had."
Washburn, the former executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, worked with Lockridge for five years before taking over at rival Lanett High. Washburn said much of what he learned under Lockridge helped him set the course for his success as a coach.
Lockridge, who coached Valley to four state football championships during his 31 years at the school, died on Sunday. He was 79.
"He was respected statewide," Washburn said. "He was my mentor, of course, and I learned so much. He helped to shape my career, which proved to be beneficial to me later. He was not an outgoing person, but you had to know he had respect for you and cared for you and he cared for his players tremendously."
Lockridge, a native of Jasper, Ala., graduated from Walker County High and went on to an ultra-successful football career at the University of Alabama. He was there from 1945-49 and was an All-Southeastern Conference center.
"He was quiet, dedicated -- a hard-nosed football player," said teammate Clem Gryska. "He had a big upper body. His nickname was Hippo. Hippopotamuses are usually aggressive. That's how he played football, giving 100 percent.
"It's a big loss. He's a great guy on and off the field. He was very laid back."
He was honored by the University of Alabama when it created its Walk of Fame at Denny Chimes. Lockridge and Billy Cadenhead shared the billing on the first concrete slab placed there in 1949.
While at Valley, Lockridge's teams compiled a record of 160-87-9. Valley won the last of four championships under Lockridge in 1970, a 23-16 win over Sylacauga in the Class 3A state championships.
He was inducted into the AHSAA Hall of Fame in its second class in 1992.
"He was a winner," said Leonard Riley, superintendent of Chambers County Schools, and a former principal at Valley. "He was a hard-nosed coach, and he loved winning. He was very tough on Friday nights to beat."
Former Valley principal N.C. Watson called Lockridge "a sharp fellow."
"I thought a lot of him," Watson said. "He'd give you a kick in the seat of the pants when you needed it. He and his wife are good people."
Lockridge is survived by his wife of 47 years, Lee Nealy Lockridge, a son, Lamar, a daughter Jennie, three sisters and a brother. Visitation for Lockridge will be Thursday from 3-6 p.m. at Johnson Brown Service Funeral Home in Valley. Graveside services will be held Friday at Langdale Cemetery in Valley at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Fairfax Methodist Church, Chattahoochee Valley Hospice or the Chattahoochee Valley Humane Society.