The vigil was held in the Cherokee County High School Gymnasium. Taylor, according to reports, passed away early Sunday morning, Oct. 28. A number of students, faculty members and community leaders gathered to share memories of “Coach T” as he was known.
Taylor was named as defensive line and inside linebacker coach for the CCHS Warriors in July. Prior to being hired at CCHS, he was line coach for the Piedmont Bulldogs.
“There’s no two better coaches in the area than these two guys (Steve Smith and Tripp Curry),” Taylor said at the time. “For me to be able to work with Steve for five or six years, and to be able to take what I learned from him and work with Coach Curry closely, I’m lucky. This is a football-crazy place, and I’m a football-crazy guy. I love it.”
Taylor was a defensive tackle for Jacksonville State University.
One of the students who spoke was Duane Studdard who plays for the Cherokee County High School Warriors.
“I really hate to be here tonight,” said Studdard. “Coach Taylor was such a great man. Some of you here tonight maybe didn’t get a chance to know him like we football players did, but he was probably the greatest coach I have ever had.
“As Christians, we are taught that God has a plan for us all. God’s plan for Coach Taylor was to pass this morning. I know it hurts and we hate it but we have to accept it. That is what God wants.
“I am thankful for the years that I got to know him and I wish I could have gotten to know him longer, but that wasn’t God’s plan and I am just going to have faith in my Savior and I am just going to have to go with it.”
Studdard then read the 23rd Psalm in the Holy Bible.
“And I like to think that right now Coach Taylor is dwelling in the House of the Lord,” said Studdard. “And I can’t wait for the day that I get to join him.”
Marcia Sewell, principal, Centre Middle School, also shared a few words.
“This past summer we were told we were going to get our ISS (in school suspension) teachers back,” said Sewell. “I was interviewing. Coach Curry called and said ‘I think I have a name you are going to like.’ And I have to say he was right. I knew he was the right person for Centre Middle School. And for the short time we did have him, he was truly a blessing. I walked in tonight and heard the music going and I had to laugh. That is what he played in the ISS room every day. The students said, ‘No, no, he plays that music. Don’t send me in there!’ Kids loved him, even though the ones he had to work with as far as discipline was concerned. He always had a very pleasing demeanor about himself that made him a wonderful person to be around.”
“It is not for us to understand or know the reasons why,” said Sewell. “It is just for us to accept and move forward. I am worried about my students tomorrow coming to school, I am worried about those football players, but we will get through it, because we are family and that is what Coach Taylor would want us to remember, that we are family.”
“Coaching is a lot more than just x’s and o’s,” said Cherokee County High School Warrior Football Coach Tripp Curry. “He was able to execute the o’s and x’s part of it so well. But it is also about handling young adults. And I have never seen a person handle young adults like Coach Taylor did. As a coaching staff one thing we really learn as coaches is how to stay positive. In the coaching business, it is just the nature of the animal to be negative. We say, ‘we should have run that part, we should have punted, we should have done this.’ When we talk about kids, and say ‘he is not strong enough,’ Coach Taylor was always positive. He said, ‘you just give him to me, we will have him ready next year.’”
“This morning when I got the phone call it was devastating,” said Coach Curry. “I just had to be positive like Coach Taylor. And and I thank the Lord for the time we had instead of worrying about the time we don’t. He will definitely be missed.”
Matt West, youth minister at Centre First Baptist Church, also spoke.
“When tragedy strikes, it leaves us who are left behind hurting,” said West. “It leaves us with unanswered questions and thoughts about what we an do. Christ said that He is the way, the truth and the life. I didn’t know Coach Taylor, but as a teacher who tries to lead kids to do the right thing, I just want to be here tonight to support my students at my church and students from the area. I know that it is difficult when this happens.”
“I think we can rest that Coach Taylor is in the hands of God,” said West. “And we can leave here tonight with two thoughts. We can either leave with the negative side with what we have lost or with the positive side and all he did, the fact he was a great football coach.”
“The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans, ‘For all things work together for the good for those who love God’ and we can rest assured tonight that Coach Taylor’s death will work for good to those who love God.”