High School Football

Decatur honors sideline legend for almost 70 years of service

Coy O'Neal started working on the sidelines in the 50s.
Coy O'Neal started working on the sidelines in the 50s. Getty Images/Hemera

Coaches and players have come and gone in almost 70 years, but there has always been one familiar face on the Decatur High football field.

His name is Coy O’Neal.

The 83-year-old starting working the sidelines when he was 15 years old and hasn’t looked backed, NBCDFW reports.

He operates the down box, and, now in his 69th season, there’s no sign of him slowing down yet.

“[As long as] my feet hold me up,” he told the station.

On Friday night, the school honored O’Neal for his work over the years by unveiling a bronze tribute in his honor.

Cy Young, the coach in the early 1950s when O’Neal started, was on hand.

“Coy is a permanent fixture of Decatur athletics,” Young told NBCDFW. “And I’ll tell you what, he’s the most loyal person I’ve ever seen.”

He laughed that O’Neal looks the same as he did 20 years ago.

“I’ve seen him get knocked down a time or two, but he jumps back up and lets ’em know he’s OK,” Carey Williams, a former Eagles player and friend of O’Neal’s, told WFAA.

The station reports that as a way to give back to his hometown, O’Neal funds an annual $1,000 athletic scholarship himself, through selling foam claws.

O’Neal says he plans to continue working as usual.

“Seventy years is a mile marker for him,” Williams told the station. “But if he’s able, I can guarantee we won’t be able to keep him off the sideline. He just loves it.”