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January 21--  The flag at Vidalia High School was lowered to half-staff Tuesday when word came that the school's beloved former head football coach had died after a long battle with Parkinson's.

{mosimage}Friends and former players remembered 76-year-old Coach Buck Cravey.  Even though he led the school's football team to its first and only state football title in 1969, the common thread in all the comments was Coach Cravey's love for his players.

Coach Cravey succeeded Coach Ralph Parsons as head coach in 1967.

"He took people on the practice field or at school and really taught them to discipline their ways and their lives.  Buck really directed them in going about their business of family and church and scholastic things.  Not many people played for Coach Cravey who really didn't credit him with steering them on the straight and narrow and on the right way," Coach Parsons says.

The principal at Vidalia High School, John Sharpe, played for Coach Cravey in 1979 and 1980.  

"We were blessed to have that man influence this community for many years.  He had such a tremendous impact on everything I do now as administrator or teacher-coach.  His committment to excellence, his work ethic, his character and his love for the people he came into contact with are something I hope to continue to emulate in everything I do in my profession," Sharpe noted.

Chris Reeves quarterbacked for the Indians three years under Coach Cravey.

"As far as a person who not only coached a great football game, he also taught life values as good as anybody I've ever been around.  I'd put him at the same level next to my Dad.  He was a very special person to me," Reeves said.

Two years after his retirement, Vidalia named its new football field for Coach Cravey in 2005 as a living legacy.

At the ceremony, he said, "I've never received an honor which meant as much as this one does.  All you people in Vidalia are what made this program what is is.  All you players, you are certainly the backbone.  You left your legacy in Vidalia football and the tradition for the program is just getting better and better."

Coach Cravey's funeral is Friday morning at eleven o'clock at the Vidalia First Baptist Church.