And it ended a long career for legendary coach Raymond Farmer – again.
Farmer had already retired from coaching when he felt God leading him to Victory Christian. The Lions went through an 0-10 season last year. Farmer said he was told of this decision last Friday.
All total, Farmer spent 44 years on the sidelines, 29 of them as head coach. He leaves the game he loves so much with an overall record of 173-140-2 and one state championship.
He led the Etowah Blue Devils to three straight title games from 1997-99, winning it all in 1999.
“Last fall, we had about 40 players come out for football, grades 7-12,” Farmer said. “There were five or six seniors. Out of that 40, not counting the seniors, we had about 19 others who either moved or decided not to play. That left us with one senior, no juniors, six sophomores, about seven freshmen and the rest eighth- and seventh-graders. I was told there were some parents who did not want their kids playing, and understandably so.
“It is amazing that we didn’t have some serious injuries last year with the schedule we played.”
Victory Christian is the smallest school in Class 2A and played region games against teams such as Wellborn, Fultondale, Vincent, Woodland, Ranburne and Ohatchee.
“Last year was the toughest situation I ever come into,” Farmer said. “I’m not the type person who says something is not fair, but the situation we were in last year playing in Class 2A was not fair. Victory Christian should be in Class 1A.
“I felt like we made some improvements as the season went along. And the kids I had worked as hard as any players I have ever coached. And that includes the players on the Etowah teams that made a run for state titles and eventually won a state crown.”
Farmer said he spent more time with these players from Victory Christian, and they will always be a special bunch of guys.
“I will always have a special place for them in my heart,” Farmer said. “It just wasn’t meant to be. I was told by our principal David Weir, there was a financial crunch and they just could not pay me.”
Farmer told Weir that his track record at private schools and church schools (Donoho and Coosa Christian) had not been real good.
“But, there is a verse in the Bible that talks about how some sow, some water, some reap,” Farmer said. “I sowed and watered at Donoho and Coosa Christian. The coaches who followed me reaped.”
Farmer said he knows God called him to Victory Christian.
“I started a prayer breakfast every Friday morning when I was at Etowah,” Farmer said. “We had someone present the Gospel to us every Friday. I did the same at Victory Christian, and had a player get saved one Friday morning, and he got hurt on the kickoff in the game that Friday night against Woodland. It was his first game, and he injured his knee and probably will never play again. That may have been my only reason coming to Victory Christian—seeing that boy get saved. And that was worth it all to me.”
Farmer said he has no hard feelings toward anyone at Victory Christian.
At the age of 70, Farmer said this may be the last hoorah for him.
“I had already been out of it for three or four years when I went to Victory Christian,” he said.
Now, it’s back to Gold’s Gym every morning working out, but he has to be very careful after having back surgery just six weeks ago.
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org