Former IHS coach named Lifetime Achievement recipient

Published 11:40 am Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

Former Isabella High School football coach Craig Hunnicutt has been named an Alabama Football Coaches Association Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Hunnicutt coached football at IHS from 1996 to 2000. He died in 2019 after battling Lou Gehrig’s disease since the late 1990s.

Current IHS football coach and athletic director Tate Leonard nominated Hunnicutt for the award.

“Every year, they send out a packet for nominations,” Leonard said.

A committee reviews the nominations and selects the recipients.

During the award’s ceremony, Hunnicutt’s family was presented a plaque, and another plaque was presented to the school.

This was Leonard’s second year to nominate Hunnicutt for the recognition.

“He had such an impact on the Isabella community,” Leonard said.

Leonard said this impact is still felt at the school to this day.

“He was my coach, and his memory lives on at the school,” Leonard said.

He said Hunnicutt was also a “great Christian role model.”

Part of this lasting impact is the school motto Hunnicutt started — Mustang Pride.

Hunnicutt had come to the school after some rough athletic seasons. He introduced a new play, the Notre Dame box, and the team saw success.

Hunnicutt was also influential in the school getting a field house.

Rex Littleton, who was an IHS assistant coach under Hunnicutt, said Hunnicutt set a work ethic that he expected his team to follow.

He said each practice Hunnicutt started by sharing a scripture verse.

“When he first came here, he didn’t ask the players to do more than he did,” Littleton said.

Littleton recounted how coaches, and even Hunnicutt himself participated in the warmup run.

“That was unusual to see a coach go out there and run with the players, but he did,” Littleton said.

Other coaches chosen for the Lifetime Achievement award were Buddy Anderson, retired from Vestavia Hills; Doug Barfield, former head coach of Auburn University; and Bill Burgess, former head coach of Jacksonville State University.