East Limestone’s 31-17 victory Friday night over West Limestone didn’t just give the Indians some bragging rights against their cross-county rivals. It was a little bit of history as well.
With the win, East Limestone coach Jeff Pugh became the winningest coach in Indians football history, passing the late Phil Cavnar. Pugh’s record at the school now stands at 88-70, while Cavnar’s record is 87-80.
Cavnar coached the Indians from 1990-2004 before he suddenly died of a heart attack while jogging. His brother, Michael Cavnar, coached the team in 2005 before resigning due to health reasons. Pugh, who was an assistant at the time, took over as head coach before the 2006 season and has held the job ever since. Pugh said reaching the milestone was even more special because it was Cavnar, whose name graces the stadium, who previously held the mark.
“He was one of my best friends,” Pugh said. “To break his record and become the winningest coach here makes me feel good. My family had a lot to do with this, our players had a lot to do with this, and our community has a lot to do with this. Our players work hard for me, and they believe in what we do.”
Pugh, who also has served as head coach at West Limestone and Crossville, has a career record of 119-102 in his 21 years as a head coach.
Friday’s victory was a fitting way for Pugh to reach his milestone. Not only was it a win over a county rival, the game epitomized what Pugh has built his program to be. The Indians played tough, hard-nosed football and basically dared West Limestone to stop the run, which the Wildcats couldn’t do effectively.
Pugh’s program is built on toughness, which is something he says not everyone appreciates or understands.
“We play a tough brand of football here, and not a lot of people like it,” he said. “And when I’m gone, they can do something else, but while I’m here, that’s what we’re going to do. My players know when I’m hollering at them, I still love them. That’s called coaching, and that’s the way it is.”
Pugh said his goal is to teach his players the discipline they need to excel after their playing days are over.
“It’s not about me and it never has been,” he said. “It’s about these guys right there growing up and turning into men. And our guys turn into men if you go through six years of me in this program, because I promise you, it’s going to be tough.”