Field renamed in honor of late coach

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT
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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) - It was an emotional Friday night under the lights in Paintsville.

The Johnson Central football team played their first game since the death of longtime, legendary Coach Jim Matney on Tuesday.

Matney had struggled with COVID-19 for weeks.

Between the death and the funeral, a football game against Clay County was on the schedule.

Before kickoff, Coach Matney’s wife and two sons stood at midfield and unveiled a banner revealing Eagle Field was being renamed Coach Jim Matney Field.

Many former players, including Hunter McCloud, who was on Matney’s state championship teams in 2016 and 2019, stood on the sideline as the announcement was made.

“There’s not going to be another coach like him,” McCloud said. “To see them rename it Coach Jim Matney Field, it was going to happen sooner or later anyway. It was just a lot sooner than any of us wanted it to happen.”

Players prepared for the game, believing nothing would be a more fitting tribute than playing their hardest.

“We’re definitely going to come out here and play as hard as we can,” quarterback Grant Rice said. “I know that’s what he’d want us to do. He’d want us to give 110 percent and just keep playing for him.”

Coach Matney’s sons also stood at midfield for the opening coin toss and ran the team onto the field.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to demonstrate how determined they were to win this one for their late coach, as they raced to a dominating 22-0 first quarter lead.

Visitation for Coach Matney will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Johnson Central’s gym. The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Monday at the football field.

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