McCreary concludes 45-year career with decision to resign as HCHS football coach

Published 3:30 pm Monday, November 13, 2023

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By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

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Amos McCreary was fresh out of college at Jacksonville State when he began his coaching career in Alabama in 1979. After 34 years of coaching in Georgia, McCreary found his way back to southeastern Kentucky at Bell County before returning home to Harlan County three years ago.

McCreary decided earlier this week that it was time to move from the sideline to the bleachers, ending a career of over six decades.

“The reason is I’ve been doing this 45 years, and I’m ready to sit back and enjoy the games and not having the pressure of being the guy where the buck ends,” McCreary said from his classroom at Harlan County High School on Wednesday afternoon. “I leave with great feelings for the kids and the school. I couldn’t ask for a better place. Yes, I’d like to have won more games, but sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you have control over things and sometimes you don’t when the injury bug hits you.”

The Black Bears lost standout receiver/quarterback Jonah Swanner to a severe knee injury in the opening game this season at Middlesboro and never recovered in posting a 1-10 season. HCHS finished 2-8 in 2021 and 4-7 in 2022, giving McCreary a 7-25 record in the final stop of his coaching career.

McCreary said he considered looking into the football job when HCHS opened in 2008. The Bears won regional championships in 2010 and 2012 under Tom Larkey, then captured a third regional title and final four appearance under Eddie Creech in 2017.

“I always kind of thought about it, but I never thought it would happen,” McCreary said. “I had an opportunity when they merged the school. Not sure I would’ve got it, but at the time, it wasn’t a time I could make a move.”

McCreary was on the coaching staff at Bell County and decided the time was right when the job opened again in 2021. A standout linebacker at Evarts under Charlie Hunter before graduating in 1974, McCreary enjoyed being able to renew friendships back home.

“I was able to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time and hear some of the old stories,” McCreary said. “Being back here was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed that.”

McCreary said county school officials would begin the search for his replacement soon.