This is an opinion piece.
My friend and longtime Reporter correspondent Ricky Smith texted me the morning of Oct. 10 to tell me Raymond Weaver had died.
At first I couldn’t believe it, because Coach Weaver was old-school tough and had overcome obstacles with his health for years. His obituary said he died unexpectedly Oct. 9 at the age of 73.
To say Coach Weaver held strong opinions is an understatement. Expressing those strong opinions didn’t endear him to lots of folks, but he didn’t care. Like him or not, he was who he was, and he wasn’t going to change for anyone.
I first met Coach Weaver during his tenure as head football coach at Collinsville. Mike McElrath, Wellington Hope, Hank Appleton and Travis Jackson are a few of his star players I remember. My Crossville classmate, Brent Jones, played for Coach Weaver’s North squad in the 1984 Alabama High School All-Star Game.
I didn’t become friends with Coach Weaver until he took over the Geraldine football program, which he commanded from 1994-98. He steered the Bulldogs to state playoff berths in 1994 and 1995, and he also coached two of the best players in program history in Jonathan Richey and Brandon Wade.
Jonathan walked on at Alabama as a quarterback and helped the Crimson Tide win an SEC championship, while Brandon led the Bulldogs to a 12-2 record and the state playoff semifinals during his senior season in 2000.
Coach Weaver spearheaded a drive to make improvements to the facilities at Geraldine, including getting the stadium named after Coolidge Isbell. He told me once he’d coached football at the two biggest basketball schools in DeKalb County, Collinsville and Geraldine.
I don’t remember the year, but a new sports writer from one of the DeKalb County papers joined me in interviewing Coach Weaver for a Bulldogs’ season preview.
The sly veteran coach took advantage of the opportunity and started poor-mouthing. I’ll never forget one of Coach Weaver’s quotes that day, “They say we have rivalries here. Well, I call them darn massacres, because that’s what happens to us.” Except, Coach didn’t say darn.
Coach Weaver played quarterback for Guntersville in the 1960s, and he’s remembered as one of the best players in Wildcat history. The Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame inducted him in its 2002 charter class.
Coach Weaver, Marshall County Commissioner Ronny Shumate and I served together on the MCSHOF board of directors. Coach was passionate about seeing the hall of fame succeed.
Ronny called me this week, and we shared memories of Coach.
“Raymond said to me several times that you’re the only son of a gun from Arab that I ever liked,” Ronny said. Except, Coach didn’t say son of a gun.
“You know Raymond was a Democrat, and he told me, ‘You’re the only Republican I would have ever voted for,” Ronny said.
Coach Weaver served several years as the color commentator on Guntersville football radio broadcasts, joining his friend Bill Yancy, the legendary “Voice of the Wildcats.”
Bill posted on his Facebook page these words about Coach Weaver: “When you talk about great friends this fellow was the greatest. My heart is broken this morning with the news that Raymond will not be calling me today. Our final phone call was Thursday night as we prepared to watch some football. From those days of tag football in the driveway with Dixie Coplin, Dee Tully to this day our friendship has grown. I will miss him.”
The last time I talked to Coach Weaver was in June. He was excited about the 2020 Guntersville football team, and he predicted the Wildcats would dominate like they have this fall.
Please remember Coach Weaver’s family and friends in your prayers as they cope with his loss.
Shannon J. Allen is the editor and publisher of The Reporter. Reach him at email@example.com.