Red Hoffman

MARVIN “RED” HOFFMAN won 178 games while serving as the head coach of the Wilkesboro and Wilkes Central High School football programs.

This is the fourth article in a weekly series highlighting big local sports’ anniversaries, given the current down time for local sports. Readers are encouraged to share any of their memories from local sports this time of year — namely May, June and July — by emailing wjpsports@wilkes.net. Photos would be appreciated too but are not a must.

For consideration to be included, please include what month (and day if known) and year the event took place. We’re particularly looking for events that took place on anniversary-type years from 2020 — 10, 20, 25, 50 or 75 years ago — but any event will be considered if it fits the other scope of criteria.

With the continuation of the series on West Wilkes’ baseball state championship run, we will only be running one historical date for the next couple of weeks. This week, we take a look back at some of the bigger anniversaries from Wilkes County sports in the summer months of 1985 … 35 years ago at this time:

Hoffman retires after 37 years

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Marvin “Red” Hoffman was a staple of Wilkes County football for almost four decades until his retirement. The field house over at Wilkes Central High School bears his name and he was a member of the inaugural Wilkes County Hall of Fame in 2013 (he was also named one of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Top 100 coaches back in 2011), before his death in the fall of that year at the age of 90. He was also a 1998 inductee into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame. Prior to teaching and coaching in Wilkes County, Hoffman also served in the United States Army during World War II. The following article is from the June 17, 1985, edition of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. It has been edited.

Marvin “Red” Hoffman, who posted a 178-98-7 record as the coach of the Wilkesboro High School and Wilkes Central High School varsity football teams in his 28 years as a head coach, has announced his retirement from the Wilkes County School System.

The retirement comes after 37 years of service in the county and the former Eagle head coach expressed his appreciation to this neighbors and co-workers in Wilkes for the success during his career.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life in Wilkes, and I love it here,” said Hoffman. “I give credit for any success and enjoyment which I have had to the members of the school boards, the administrators, my fellow teachers, the athletes, the parents or the athletes, and the spectators, with the tremendous fellow coaches. I share my success with them.”

Hoffman began his coaching career in Wilkesboro after graduating from Appalachian State Teachers College (now Appalachian State University) in 1948. In his three years there, his teams engineered a 30-3-1 record — good for three Highlands Conference championships — and were undefeated in the 1950 season before tying Mount Airy in the Apple Bowl.

He then continued his career at Wilkes Central following the school consolidation until his retirement from coaching in February 1976. At that time, he assumed duties as coordinator of the driver’s education program and later worked as the coordinator for county athletic directors.

Hoffman’s Eagles team won the Western North Carolina High School Activities Association in 1962. After losing the first game of the season to Taylorsville when injuries hampered the effort, the Eagles rebounded to win the remainder of the their games.

Wilkes Central downed Lincolnton in the bi-conference title game and then edged Asheboro, 14-7, in the association finals.

The 1965 Eagles also won the Northwestern Conference championship under the direction of quarterback John Swofford, now the athletic director at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (he would later assume the role of commissioner for the Atlantic Coast Conference).Hoffman brought home the conference title in 1972 and was chosen as the conference coach of the year.

During his career, Hoffman was a head coach in the Shrine Bowl and a head coach in the North Carolina Coaches Association’s East-West all-star game.

Among his top players were Jack Groce, who was an NAIA All-American as a halfback at Appalachian State, and Odell White, a halfback who set numerous records at Lenoir-Rhyne College. Many other Eagle players under Hoffman played in various all-star games and received college scholarships.

Eagles teams averaged 6.4 wins per season under Hoffman.

“I couldn’t have done it without such great assistants as Junior Groce, Jack Branch, Jack Thornburg, Don Patrick, Lott Mayberry, Tom Boyette, Dave Webster and Richard Grissom. The presidents and members of the quarterback clubs also have to make the program a success,” said Hoffman. “I also extend appreciation to all the of the media, and particularly The (Wilkes) Journal-Patriot. Dwight Nichols and John Hubbard were there for most games during my career, and I certainly appreciate their support.”

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