Longtime football coach Clark Duncan looks back on his 41-year career

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) — Reflecting on 41 years of football coaching, Hall of Fame high school head coach Clark Duncan said one word comes to mind: relationships.

“We have so many kids from different walks of life and if you can show kids that you love them and can love them, they will answer that and you can be successful,” Duncan said.

The relationships he built during his time as an assistant coach at Fulton, at the helm of Powell Football for 17 years, and the last 13 years as head football coach at South-Doyle High School, helped him achieve more than 200 career victories.

Despite the roster accolades that landed him in the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 2020, Duncan is proud of the impact he’s made on young lives beyond the x’s and o’s.

“I can go back more than four decades and I probably couldn’t tell you how many wins or losses we’ve had, but I can tell you about the relationships and what we’ve done for kids and helped them become better men,” said Duncan.

While 2019’s rainy regional championship, when the Cherokees defeated the Central Bobcats, or the overtime win over Morristown West in 2012 that ignited South-Doyle’s success, they are fond memories… than any touchdown.

“Every Thursday night she and I had dinner, I still have the list on my desk of where we would go, and we would talk about the game,” said an emotional Duncan, looking back on those precious moments.

At the age of 63, Duncan decided he wanted to experience other adventures such as golfing in the fall, spending time on the lake and, more importantly, with his grandchildren, which ultimately led to his retirement.

“For the past 55 years I’ve played football or coached and so I’ve never fallen to do what I wanted to do and I think it’s just that time,” Duncan said.

The longtime football coach turned Powell and South-Doyle from 0-10 teams into competitively respected programs during his tenure. 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 tick, not one specific thing, but I think it’s someone who’s been in coaching, has had success, can build relationships with kids, who’s had a lot of meaningful responsibilities as a coach, said Duncan.

“We preach that the program is about the past, present and future, it’s not about me or anyone. When I leave we want the next guy to come in and bring some new energy and make changes if necessary and I’m going to support him 100%.”

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