Opinion

Statue to honor longtime Fairmont State coach

An editorial from The Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — One of the greatest leaders in Fairmont State sports history will be honored at the Fighting Falcons’ football opener tonight.

Health problems may keep Harold “Deacon” Duvall from attending the unveiling of the statue at the field bearing his name, but then again, they might not. He’s been awaiting this evening’s ceremonies for a long while.

But the statue will be standing for many, many years as people look back on Fairmont State football from 1952-71 and look at perfection personified. Former players Steve Lipscomb, Kenny Miller, Gary Moyer and Paul Clovis have presented the statue of Coach Duvall to Fairmont State University to honor the accomplishments of their former coach and mentor.

Many people aren’t aware that Duvall was actually hired to coach Fairmont State’s basketball team prior to the 1952 season. But because Paul C. (Pi) Davis, who was employed at the same time to coach football, also served as the Marion County playground director and needed to get his equipment put away, the two just swapped jobs. Duvall took the football team, and Davis became the basketball coach.

Duvall was aware that football was not really taken seriously at the local college and was mostly a sport that many fans accepted more as a social event than a true competitive sport. He wanted to change that as quickly as he could.

This was about the time that football players were being drafted into the U.S. Army, and just when Deacon was getting his team organized, the draft took his quarterback and several other key players. He was just days away from the season-opener and had to quiz his players on who might be able to play quarterback as well as several other important positions. He says he had no idea how his makeshift team might fare in his first season at the helm — the 1952 season.

Well, the 1952 season turned out just fine for Fairmont State. The team just had a short six-game schedule that year but Duvall’s Falcons won each of them to nail down the conference championship. The Falcons also won championships in 1957 (8-0), 1959 (8-0), 1960 (8-1), 1964 (8-0), 1965 (8-1), 1967 (11-0) and 1969 (8-1).

During those early years, Duvall was a one-man staff, although sometimes having a student assistant. He did almost everything — from cutting the grass and lining the field to calling into the Times West Virginian some of the road game results. All the while he also served Fairmont State as dean of men and the school’s tennis coach…

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