Over 40 years have passed since Amos McCreary was last involved in eastern Kentucky football as a star linebacker for Charlie Hunter’s Evarts Wildcats.
With McCreary leading the way, the Wildcats finished 8-2 that season, the last of several great Evarts teams during Hunter’s long run as coach. The Wildcats didn’t top that eight-win mark until the 1990 squad went undefeated during the regular season on the way to a regional title.
By that time, McCreary was well established as a top high school football coach in Georgia, where he started coaching after college and remained until the spring.
McCreary had retired after a successful coaching career but became intrigued after learning the Bell County job was open, back home in eastern Kentucky. He decided he was ready for a new challenge and returned to eastern Kentucky.
“I’ve gotten to see guys I haven’t seen in 30-plus years, and you can go right back to the same stories just like the day you walked out of high school,” McCreary said.
McCreary has a familiar face with him on the sidelines in his new assistant, Freddie McCreary, who recently retired as a teacher at Harlan County High School.
The younger McCreary, a 1979 Evarts graduate, also played football for Hunter at Evarts and went on to a long coaching career of his own, beginning at Evarts where he was an assistant football and boys basketball coach before leading the Evarts girls basketball team to a couple of All “A” Classic state tournament appearances as the head coach. McCreary was the athletic director for several years after Harlan County High School opened, while also serving as an assistant in football and girls basketball.
“Thank goodness he’s here. It’s a lot fun to get to coach with your younger brother,” McCreary said. “That part has been really special.”
The McCrearys brought the Bobcats to Coal Miners Memorial Stadium at Harlan County for their first scrimmage earlier this month and came away impressed with the facility, one of the nicest in eastern Kentucky.
“It does make me feel really proud to see what has happened in this county,” McCreary said. “It makes me feel good that these kids have an opportunity to play in a place like this. Hopefully, people will come out here and fill it up, because (coach) Eddie (Creech) has them working hard. It’s a great atmosphere.”
McCreary saw some bright spots in his team’s performance but noted that much work was still ahead with the Bobcats having to adjust to a new style.
“We have some skilled kids who can make some plays,” McCreary said. “We just have to get a whole lot better at what we’re doing. Right now everything is new. We just hired our last coach yesterday. It’s been an uphill battle just to get a staff in place. I hope it will just get better and better.”
The Bobcats open their regular season schedule on Aug. 19 at Middlesboro.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134