MADISON — He was the longest serving Scott High School football coach in the school’s history. Last Friday, he coached his last game for the Skyhawks.
Shane Griffith was the head coach of the “Black and Gold” Skyhawks football team for the past 16 years.
“Stepping down was a difficult decision for me and my family,” he said. “I have made some great relationships in this journey and I will cherish all the memories.”
Griffith is a 1990 Scott High School graduate.
“I played on the football and basketball teams during my high school years,” he said.
Griffith became a very talented quarterback for the Scott Skyhawks by his senior year and he was recruited to play college ball at West Virginia Tech.
“Coach Bob Gobble transferred to West Virginia State and I transferred as well,” Griffith recalled. “I wanted to play for Coach Gobble and once I got to State I knew I had made the right decision.”
Griffith’s college football career was cut short after he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 19.
“My freshman year I went into the football season weighing 208 pounds, but I just started losing weight and dropped down to 169 pounds,” he said. “I knew something was wrong.”
Since he could not compete on the football field, he wanted to still be a part of the game. During his sophomore year, Griffith obtained his WVSSAC coaching card.
“I became an assistant freshman coach at Scott High School at age 20,” he said.
Griffith has been part of the Scott High School football program for 29 years.
“I was a player at age 13 and stayed involved until I was 43,” he said.
When he was named head coach of the Skyhawks 16 years ago, he had three goals.
“First, I told the young men to always finish what you start,” he said. “Most people try, and even try hard, but they give up. I didn’t want them to ever give up, no matter what the challenge.”
Second, Griffith asked his players to care for others.
“All of us face times in our lives when we need help,” he said. “I challenged them to help others and be more a part of other lives. If you help others, then others will be there to help you when you need it.”
Griffith was creating a football family atmosphere inside the program.
“The third thing was to try to leave things better than when you found them,” he said.
Griffith said his faith in Jesus Christ guided him when working and teaching youth.
“Jesus did all those things,” Griffith said. “He finished what He started, He helped others and He left the world a better place.”
Griffith won 98 games at Scott, which is the most in the school’s history. He created a tradition of winning and took the school to nine playoff seasons, including six in a row.
“The first year we were 2-8 and the next year 3-7, but I could see that players were buying into the program and what we were trying to accomplish,” he said.
In his third season, the Skyhawks went 6-4 and just missed the playoffs after a heartbreaking loss to Poca.
“The kids cried their eyes out, but it was a special moment in that locker room because I knew they wanted more and expected more,” he said.
The next season Scott went 9-1 and was ranked the number one team in their class in the state for weeks seven through nine.
Scott hosted its first ever playoff game and then went on to make the playoffs for the next six seasons in a row.
“We won a playoff game and even made it to the semi-final game in 2007,” he said. “It was wonderful to see the expectations raise in the Scott High School football program.”
Of the nine playoff teams Griffith coached at Scott, five of them lost to the eventual state champion.
“We got some tough playoff draws, there were some controversial calls and some injuries that kept us from bringing home the title, but even the losses are something you learn and grow from,” he said.
Griffith said the 2007 team was the closest to winning it all, but the 2006 team had the best defense he ever coached.
“We lost in the second round of the playoffs that year and I feel if we hadn’t had some of the injuries we had that we could have won it all,” he said.
In 2003 during a playoff game against Wayne, Griffith went for a two-point conversion to win the game instead of kicking an extra point to tie it.
“I know I would do it again,” he said. “I believe in controlling your own destiny and handling the consequences good or bad.”
Griffith said more than winning or coaching football, teaching young athletes to become good men is the most rewarding part of his coaching career.
“Many of these kids have went on to do tremendous things with their lives and I am so proud of all of them,” he said. “Seeing the good fathers, community leaders, hard workers and Christian men that they become is the most rewarding of all. In my opinion, my success as the coach at Scott High School will be more determined by what the young men that I coached do later in life. That will ultimately define my success, and not wins or losses in a game.”
Also stepping down as a coach in the Scott High School football program is Mike Epling. He was the longest serving football coach in Boone County ever. He was assistant coach for the Scott Skyhawks from 1982 to 2015, a total of 34 seasons. He coached under four head coaches Jim Booth, Bob Mullett, Doug Cox and Griffith.
“There are not enough words to express my gratitude and respect for coach Epling,” Griffith said. “To stay at one place for that long through the ups and the downs is remarkable. He was truly loyal to the program, the school and the community.”
Griffith is now the assistant principal and athletic director at Van High School. His wife, Jennifer, graduated from Van and was Miss Bulldog in 1993. The couple has been married for 22 years and have two daughters, Alexia who is a junior at Marshall University and Taylor a sophomore at Scott High School.
Griffith says he is not sure if he would ever return to coaching.
“I am just going to take a nap from coaching and when I wake up I will figure out what I want to do,” he said.
Although a very humble Griffith would not say it, nearly everyone associated with Scott Skyhawks’ Black and Gold football will tell you that the coach accomplished his goals, changed many kids’ lives for the better and left the football program better than he found it.
“I have nothing but the up most respect for Coach Griffith and the entire program he has built over the years,” said Joe Linville, the voice of Scott Skyhawks football games on Danville radio station WZAC 92.5 FM. “I thank him for sharing his family with our community for the past 16 years.”
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at [email protected] or @fcpace62 on Twitter.