Hunter honored for work with Bell program

Published 5:45 pm Monday, September 23, 2019

A son of a Harlan County football legend, Freddie Hunter found a football home in Bell County and was honored Thursday for 20 years of service to the middle school football program.

The Bell County football program honored Hunter, who died in April, by presenting a plaque to family members during the New Harlan at Bell County middle school games Thursday at Log Mountain.

“Freddie was more than just a coach. He was someone that you knew was going to be there and that you could count on, and the kids knew that, too,” said Bell County middle school coach Darrin Clark. “He wasn’t just a coach of the game, but he was a mentor to other coaches and his players alike. I was constantly picking his brain, and we discussed so much concerning the Xs and Os of the game. Football season never ended for Freddie. As soon as one year ended, he was immediately planning for the next. He was so good to the players that he had the chance to coach, but he was tough on them. He coached with tough love. He nicknamed most of the players and all of them had a special place in his heart.”

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Hunter, a 1971 Evarts High School graduate, played football for his dad, Charlie, the Evarts coach from 1955 to 1979. The elder Hunter led Evarts to three district championships in the 1960s and set a county record for wins.

Freddie Hunter was an official for several years and coached middle school football at Evarts and Pineville before beginning his long run with the Bell County middle school program. Bell has won a pair of state championships under coach Dudley Hilton since the school opened in 1985 and Hunter played a big role in helping prepare many of those players for high school football.

“I desperately miss my friendship with Freddie on and off the field, as do the many players that are still playing the game. Freddie is sorely missed for his knowledge and experience, but also for just who he was,” Clark said. “He meant a lot to our program and isn’t someone that you can replace. We can just do our best every day to, hopefully, pass on his legacy and make sure he continues to live through us.”