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Friends remember Coach Corky Griffith

AM Stone | WVOW News

CHARLESTON A former head coach of the Logan Wildcats football team died December sixteenth and now friends celebrate the life and legacy of Coach Corky Griffith.

Born in the Clay County community of Widen, West Virginia, Griffith excelled at football and baseball. He earned a scholarship to attend Salem College.

Coach Griffith started his career coaching multiple sports at Ripley High School in 1968. A tough but fair coach, Griffith cemented his legacy in the seventies as head coach of the DuPont High School Panthers.

WVOW’s former station manager Speedy Bevins recalled Griffith’s coaching and arrival to Logan High at the beginning of the nineties.

“In the mid-1970s,” Blevins said, “he was the head football coach at Dupont High School and played in consecutive Class AAA championship games.”

Bevins said the 1990 Logan Wildcat football team was expected to be good. Matter of fact, they were very good. Wildcats went 9-1 that season.

“When I heard Corky was going to be an assistant to Logan Head Coach Wayne Bennett,” Bevins recalled, “I thought, man, something interesting got even more interesting.”

Griffith was known for his love of the game, but his love of teaching the game is evident today with the Wildcats. Current Head Coach Gary Mullins was quarter back for what ultimately was Griffith’s last stint as coach.

“Coach Griffith was a great coach,” said Mullins. “He always made you feel like you mattered and made you feel important to the program."

Mullins said Griffith was a cut up and always smiling.

“Coach could walk up to about any group,” Mullins told WVOW Sports, “and by the time he left everyone would be laughing hysterically. He showed me that you could be a tough coach while still getting to know your players. Some of my greatest football memories involve Coach Griffith and I will always remember our times together. West Virginia has lost a true coaching legend. As he said to me the last time we talked, I love ya coach, and I mean it.”

The current Director of Secondary Education in Logan County Schools, Jason Browning also played for coach Griffith. Browning said Griffith was bigger than life.

“His personality would fill the room as soon as he entered,” Browning said. “He had the unique ability to help a young student athlete believe that they were capable of being better than they were. You believed in yourself because Coach Griffith believed in you.”

Bevins said Griffith never met a stranger and sometimes his larger-than-life personality could be bigger than the game of football. Speedy recalls one time Coach Griffith’s exuberance came in during a particularly tough season for the Wildcats in 1992.

“Late in the game,” Bevins remembered, “Logan’s quarterback, Aaron Hollander, hit his receiver, Chopper Kirkendoll in the endzone with like twenty seconds to go for the go-ahead touchdown. Logan gets the touchdown, but they get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because Corky ran from the bench, into the endzone and started a celebration dog pile on top of Chopper Kirkendoll. He was just that kind of guy.

Bevins remembers Corky as a man with the kind of sense of humor that could have landed him on late-night TV if he hadn’t made a career of coaching. Moreover, Bevins believes Griffith would have found success as a politician. People just liked him.

According to his obituary, Griffith often said he once entered the best liars contest but was disqualified because they didn’t rate professionals.

A celebration of Corky Griffith’s life will be conducted Thursday, December 29 at Beni Kedem Temple at 100 Quarrier Street in Charleston. The celebration is scheduled between 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Corky donated his body to the West Virginia University School of Medicine. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations to be made to local high school athletic programs.

He was 83.



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