Maiden loses football 'father'

The Maiden community lost a former coach this week who helped begin a winning high school football tradition.

William "Bill" Barefoot — who coached at Maiden High from 1955-59 and again from 1962-65 — died Monday night in Columbia, S.C.

"If George Washington is the founding father of our country, Bill Barefoot is the father of football at Maiden," said Barefoot's former player and co-captain Charles Abernethy.

Struggling out of the gate in Barefoot's first season in 1955, the Blue Devils finished 2-4, but Barefoot continued to build a young program.

That effort showed during the next four seasons. From 1956-59, the Blue Devils tallied winning seasons three times, including a 7-3 mark in 1959.

"By the time Bill was there his second year, we had a winner," Abernethy said. "My junior and senior years, we had winning records.

Bill Barefoot was just a great coach."

Despite success, a lack of money in coaching pulled Barefoot away from football after the 1959 season. He left Maiden High, and a game he loved so much, to work for Horace Mann Insurance.

"All of us had to supplement our incomes," said former Maiden coach Tom Brown. "Coaching football on the high school level was not a very lucrative position."

Money may have kept Barefoot from coaching at Maiden for two seasons, but he didn't let it keep him away for good. He returned in 1962.

During the next four seasons — which would be his last years with the school — he compiled a 34-7-1 record and never lost more than two games in any season. He was named Southern District 7 coach of the year twice — co-coach in 1962 and outright coach of the year in 1965.

Abernethy joined Barefoot on the coaching staff in 1962.

"I jumped at the opportunity," said Abernethy, who served as line coach and worked with the junior varsity program. "I would have coached with Bill Barefoot without any pay. That's how much I thought of the man and how much I loved him."

Following the 1965 season, Barefoot stepped down, ending his career with a 56-27-4 overall record.

The school named Brown its new football coach in 1966.

In 1971, six years after Barefoot's departure, Brown won his first of two state football titles. He gives a lot of credit to his predecessor.

"He put Maiden on the right track for football," Brown said. "I can guarantee you that. He was definitely the front-runner as far as establishing the Maiden football program goes."

Barefoot developed personal relationships with his players on and off the field.

"Bill was in my wedding," Abernethy said. "My brother was my best man because my father died when I was in the fourth grade. Bill was a groomsman in my wedding."

Brown said many people respected Barefoot.

"I met him several times and talked with him several times," Brown said. "He had became good friends with a lot of his former players.

There was definitely a tremendous of amount of respect, not only from me, but for all the young men who played for him."

Barefoot's mark on Maiden football can still be seen today, Abernethy said.

"I feel like we've been very fortunate at Maiden with being so successful in football," Abernethy said. "It was because of two people — Bill Barefoot and Tom Brown. I'm convinced to this day, and no one will ever convince me different, but we won not necessarily because we had the best athletes, but we had the best coaches."