Hundreds show up to Johnson Central vigil for Coach Matney

Published: Sep. 5, 2021 at 11:39 PM EDT
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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) - A high school football coach and community leader is fighting for his life.

It’s why hundreds came out to the Johnson Central football field on Sunday to show their love and support.

Jesse Peck is the defensive coordinator. For him, it is a somber site seeing a few hundred local faces show up to the football field to pray for Head Coach Jim Matney.

“W\e came out today to lift Coach Matney in prayer to lift his family in prayer for a speedy recovery,” said Peck. “We not only need him here with his football team, but his wife and two young sons need him at home. He is a rallying point that everyone gets behind.”

Johnson Central Principal Justin Arms says he has been sick for some time.

“All we know is he has been in the hospital for an extended period of time and he was transferred to Huntington today,” said Arms.

The players say they are going play harder for Coach Matney heading into the season.

“I can speak for the whole team saying this is a hard time for us knowing the dude we look up to the most out of anyone is sick and ill,” said Johnson Central senior Keygan Pelfrey.

Coach Matney is a larger than life figure and school officials say he loves the Paintsville community; he is very active and has impacted thousands of kids in his career.

“Johnson Central football is a tough, rugged program. [It’s] a team you can never count out and that is the same thing with Coach Matney; he is just that kind of a guy,” said Arms.

Over his long career, Coach Matney has racked up more than 300 wins.

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