Fort Dale’s first coach joins Hall of Fame

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, October 6, 2009

He compiled over 240 wins as a football coach at small high schools like Ariton, Elba, Goshen and Daleville. But Fort Dale Academy will always hold a special place in his heart.

Julius Head, a Greenville native, was the school’s first coach and helped lay the foundation for a football program that has since prospered on the gridiron.

Head will be inducted into the Fort Dale Hall of Fame prior to kickoff of Friday night’s homecoming game against East Memorial Academy.

Email newsletter signup

“I think it’s a great honor,” said Head. “Fort Dale has always been a special place to me. It’s a great school and they’ve got great people.”

Prior to Fort Dale’s first year of varsity play, Head assisted Chuck Bowers with the junior varsity team because the school, at the time, was just for grades K-9.

However, during the first full year of varsity play in ’71 Head remembers a dedicated group of young players coming together to start building a program.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “Union Camp (now Coastal Forest Products) had a semipro team and they shutdown and we were able to get some equipment. We had to practice over there by the National Guard Armory.”

Despite those obstacles, the team was able to play in a stadium come the fall. That was thanks mainly to the work of Buddy Moorer, according to one of the school’s founders, Juanita Poole. Moorer devoted his time, money, equipment and employees to building the field. 80 men in the athletic association donated the lumber and built the bleachers.

The first year, the fledgling football program went 7-3.

“We had a good nucleus of players,” said Head. “Phillip Hancock was our quarterback, Rusty Dubberley and Johnny Bates were our running backs, Chuck Heartsill was a receiver…just a good group of players.”

Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman played wide receiver as a junior on that team. He remembers Head as being both a disciplinarian and friend.

“Of course he was dealing with some little brats,” joked Norman. “But he could work you hard and at the same time be encouraging. He did a good job of molding some football players. He was an awfully good coach.”

He was hands-on, too, said Norman. Head played running back for Greenville High School in the 1950s, helping an unbeaten Tigers’ squad to a state title in 1955, and is still remembered as one of fastest players of his era.

He played football under Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden at Howard College, now Samford University.

“That was his legacy, his speed,” said Norman. “And back then he was still young enough to run faster then any of us.”

Head coached at Fort Dale from 1971-75 and 1978-80. His 1979 team was the state title runner-up. He also coached baseball, basketball, track and golf at the school.

Head will be inducted alongside Brett Paulk, a former point guard on Fort Dale’s basketball team, who helped lead the Eagles to two straight state championships in 2003-04.

Paulk was twice named AISA Player of the Year in 2002-03 and 2003-04.

“It’s kind of hard to believe,” said Paulk. “It’s a real humbling experience and I was real excited when I heard from Mr. (David) Brantley. But it’s not something that can be done alone. I had great people around me, from my parents to my coaches and teammates.”

Paulk is Fort Dale’s all-time leading scorer (1506 points) and holds the record for most points scored in the season (535).

He was Most Valuable Player of the state tournament in 2004.

“That second championship was real special because you hardly ever get a chance to win two,” said Paulk.

Paulk was also awarded with the Butler County Achiever Award in 2004.

He is currently a senior at the University of Alabama where he is finishing up his degree in civil engineering.