Harold Clark – 2011 ALFCA Lifetime Achievement Award

Harold Clark – 2011 ALFCA Lifetime Achievement Award

November 30, 2011

     When Harold Clark took over the Vigor football program in 1974, it was in disarray.  The Wolves had won only 7 games in 3 seasons and he took over knowing that the task of bringing this school together would be great.  His first team would be 0-10 and score only 35 points, but gradually he made Vigor competitive again.  By 1978 Vigor won 8 games and were region champions and became the first team in school history to make the playoffs.

     Harold Clark changed the football program at Vigor by changing the players at Vigor.  He did so by caring for them, counseling them and helping them one on one. He was also tough on them.  Former player Scott Johnston said that it was “tough love.”  “He was hard on us. He would push you and push you and push you until he couldn’t take it anymore and just when you thought you couldn’t take it anymore he’d put his arm around you and tell you that he loved you.  Win, lose or draw you knew he loved you.”  And Harold Clark loved Vigor and he stayed.

     His 1982 team became the first Vigor team to win 10 games and that squad made it all the way to the third round of the playoffs.  The 1985 team won 10 games again and by the playoffs of 1986 Vigor had arrived at a new level. The Wolves made their first trip to the semi finals finishing 9-4.  Everything came into place in 1987 and Vigor took the final step winning the 6A State Championship at Legion Field.  Harold Clark had taken Vigor from one of the worst teams in the state to the top of the ladder. But the best was yet to come.

     The 1988 Vigor team led by RB Lectron Williams, WR Kevin Lee, QB Kelvin Simmons, linemen Roosevelt Patterson and linebacker Mitch Davis is considered to be the hands down greatest high school football team ever in the state of Alabama.  Clark and the Wolves were ahead of the day throwing the ball and with Williams in the backfield the offense was more than explosive.  But the defense…it was just nasty.  They gave up 30 yards per game rushing, 58 yards per game passing.  Vigor had 24 interceptions on the year, 14 fumble recoveries, 30 sacks.  The Wolves gave up 44 points and in one of the most dominant playoff performances ever, only 7 points in 5 playoff games. After losing to Vigor in the semifinals 14-0, Spence McCracken of Robert E. Lee called them “the greatest high school team I have ever seen.” When The Vigor Wolves devastated Berry 41-7 in the final game they were not only state champions but also ESPN National champions.

     Five players off the team would go on to play professional football.  Harold Clark stayed at Vigor.  He would coach 6 more years with four of those teams winning 10 games or more.  And talk about defense. His last four teams would give up an average of only 6.2 points per game.  His final coaching record of 161-72-1 is impressive but doesn’t come close to telling the complete story. Robert Brazile a former player who went on to a great NFL career later came back and coached with Coach Clark, said this…“ he never made a decision for me that was not in my best interests.  I saw him repeat the same process with each athlete year after year”. One of Coach Clark’s greatest qualities was his modesty.  He always was quick to say that victories were a result of a team effort.

     Harold Clark was State Coach of the Year twice and and is a member of the Alabama High School Hall of fame as well as the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame.  Coach Clark passed away from cancer in 1996 at age 61.  He coached for 37 years and spent 32 of them working with the young men from Vigor High School.  Accepting his award today is his GRANDSON William Tyler Bishop.  The ALABAMA FOOTBALL COACHES ARE PROUD TO BESTOW THEIR  LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD UPON COACH HAROLD CLARK.