Coach Holmes’ memory lives on
Published 11:30 am Wednesday, July 23, 2008
By By Chandler Myers
A mass memorial was held Tuesday morning in honor of former ECHS head coach Arvel Holmes at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church.
Holmes passed away July 1 in Gadsden at the age of 87.
Bill Staff, a former player under Holmes, set up the mass.
Staff said the mass was performed well and he was glad that Holmes’ sister was able to attend.
Staff said that Holmes’ coaching ability was only enhanced by his personality and values.
He added that the great coach was hard for people not to like.
His career at ECHS began in 1952 and his tenure lasted until 1961 when he left to take a job with Savannah High School in Georgia.
Adolph “Doc” Sutton, a former ECHS player, who played under Holmes from 1952-53, said last month that Holmes was one of the greatest men he knew on and off the gridiron.
When Holmes arrived at the ECHS campus in ’52 the team was coming off a rare losing season and was looking for a way to turn it around.
Sutton said that Holmes had an eye for the game and could teach almost anyone to play.
He added that when Holmes arrived he brought a new offense and style of coaching no one in Atmore had ever seen.
The two seasons that Sutton played under Holmes, the Blue Devils record showed an amazing 16 wins, two losses and two ties.
Sutton said that Holmes gave the city of Atmore what they wanted from him with winning seasons.
He added that this was a time when football was truly supported.
Holmes left Atmore and the State of Alabama in 1961 to take the job in Savannah.
In Holmes’ ten seasons at Atmore he compiled a record of 67 wins, 24 losses and nine ties. As a head coach in Alabama he left with a record of 90 wins, 29 losses and 11 ties.
He also had three undefeated seasons while coaching at ECHS.
Sutton said Holmes cared deeply about his players and that players always kept in contact with him.
After taking the job in Savannah, Holmes coached 22 seasons in Georgia.
He spent twelve years with Savannah High School and then had stints with Rabun County High School and Towns County High School. His career in Georgia saw him record 124 wins, 87 losses and 18 ties.