Knoxville (WVLT) - They're two of our area's biggest high school football rivals, but they do have one thing in common. At one time, both Bearden and West were coached by the late Bill Wilson.
Wilson died suddenly last year, and Friday night, there was a special ceremony during the Bearden/West game to remember the life of the beloved coach.
Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman was there, and he brings us more.
As if there's not enough emotion between the Bearden and West High School football teams when they get together on the gridiron, Friday night added fuel to that emotional fire by the remembering of long-time Coach Bill Wilson.
Of course, Coach WIlson coached all those years, 28 years at West High School, one season here at Bearden. Friday night, he was remembered here at Bearden High School football field. His son-in-law, Seth Grossman, reflects on his father-in-law Coach Bill Wilson.
"Ah, I think he would be honored just looking down, you know. I talked to Coach Cummings before the game and Coach Taylor and both talked about how much he loved kids and just to see these kids down here competing for both schools, I just think he's loving it, and he's probably saying what's with these T-shirts? He was a big T-shirt guy. He made T-shirts for his teams. I think he would love the T-shirts," Grossman said.
The T-shirts designed in Coach Wilson's memory were designed by one of his players, Bearden's Preston Rouse. Former players, coaches, and thousands of fans paid tribute to the man who coached for the two schools. At least one of his former players, James Freeman, played at both schools, Bearden as a Freshman and then three seasons for Wilson at West.
"You know he was very religious. He would be a friend to anyone. If you wanted to be a friend to Bill Wilson, he would be a friend to you pretty much, and that's why I loved him, and I'll always love that guy as a coach, as a friend, as a mentor. He was just a terrific guy over all," Freeman said.
Coach Wilson's family felt more comfortable remaining in the stands during the ceremony.