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Hall of Famer Jackie Hayes Announces Retirement From Coaching At Dillon After 29 Seasons

Hall of Famer Jackie Hayes Announces Retirement From Coaching At Dillon After 29 Seasons

HSSR Publisher Billy Baker Takes A Stroll Down Memory Lane Concerning Coach Hayes

By Billy G. Baker


DillonHall of Fame Dillon High prep football coach Jackie Hayes (336-56) announced his retirement from coaching Tuesday morning (December, 15) with a letter handed into Dillon/Lake View Area School Superintendent Ray Rogers that contained the following 177 words:

“After dedicating the majority of my life to the Dillon High School football program as a player, assistant coach, and now as the Head Coach, I have decided to step down. It has been an honor and a privilege to be the head football coach at Dillon High School. I would first like to thank my wife and children for their unconditional love and support during this journey as the Dillon Wildcat Head Football coach that has spanned twenty-nine years. Thank you to the coaches for their hard work and dedication. To the players, I hope that I have made half the impact in your lives as you have made in mind. Many thanks to the School Board, Superintendent Ray Rogers, and principals and staff who have supported my tenue at Dillon High School. The Booster Club, Tunnel and Chain Crew, Statisticians, Lonnie Turner and Jimmy Bohachic, Clock Operator, Charles Lane, Team Doctors, Dr. Phil Wallace and Dr. Kim Stanton, the cheerleaders, band, and the Wildcat fans, I thank you for all your support.” Signed Jackie Hayes who added:  "Go Wildcats!”

Coach Haye’s desire to become a coach was instilled into him as a high school quarterback under a very tough and disciplined Paul Chapman in 1976-1979. No doubt, Hayes was one of Chapman’s all-time favorite players and he strongly endorsed the younger Hayes to former Dillon Principal Pete Steele to succeed Chapman upon his retirement after the 1989 season. Steele’s decision to hire an outsider, with no ties to the community, thus over-looking an eager Hayes at the time, resulted in Dillon going 1-21 over the next two years in 1990 and 1991.

When Dillon played a road game at Stratford in October, 1991 this reporter went into the visitors stands and talked with the three Wildcat fans in attendance at the game. They were Dr. Phil Wallace, and the McLaurin’s who ran the Wildcat Booster Club.  The program had hit rock bottom with no signs of improvement under the present head coach at the time. However, help was on the way and it was spelled HAYES.    

When Ray Rogers agreed to become the new Superintendent in Dillon in the fall of 1991, he informed Steele he wanted Coach Hayes to become the new head football coach an athletic director at Dillon High effective June, 30 1992, the same day he officially took over his new duties as well. Rogers was firm in his request to Steele, despite some fans also having interest in another former Dillon quarterback, who went to Clemson, named Jewell McLaurin. McLaurin had been winning Class A championships at Lake View and he never expressed serious interest in the Dillon job.  

Hayes got the job officially in early 1992 but he truly was the head coach of the Dillon Wildcats seconds after the former coach left Memorial Stadium in his pre-packed rented moving van after his final game at Dillon. This writer knows this fact having attended the final game just to record the mood of the town, and in all honesty, some Wildcat fans waved goodbye, but I am not going to say just how they waved good-bye. Let’s just say the rented moving truck packed full in the parking lot, behind the stadium while the outsider’s final game was being played, caused some snickers and amusing comments among Wildcat fans. I would be reporting on Dillon's 21st loss in two seasons and by this point the departing coach was in a hurry to move on and the majority of hard-core Dillon fans were in a hurry to see him leave as well. I tried to get some game quotes from the departing coach leaving the game, and the town literally. I recall his response was, "No comment, Good Bye!" 

Thus, Coach Haye's 1992 season home opening 14-0 win against Lake View, 9 months later in August, attended by this reporter also, on a hot humid night with over 250 Dillon fans gathered around Hayes during his post-game huddle talk was as scene of pure joy.  I will never ever forget Hayes himself overcome with emotion as he addressed a jubilant group of young men on the Wildcat team following a big win over a county rival. It was a scene hard to forget as fans clung on every word Haye’s expressed that night, cheering loudly and proudly as the huddle talk broke-up. Hayes promised many more victories would be forthcoming if the team kept working hard!  (You might call that an understatement.)    

There would be 335 more wins over the next 29 seasons against only 56 losses. Dillon would win 10 or more games in the 26 of 29 season Hayes coached. He directed the Wildcats to 29 winning seasons with playoff appearances in each one of them.

His teams won seven state titles, played for 14 state championships, won 14 Lower State titles and 21 region championships. Coach Hayes served as both assistant and head coach of the North-South and the Shrine Bowl. He was also a student manager of the Shrine Bowl game in his youth.

He has served as a past SCADA President and was once a member of the SCHSL Executive Committee. To date Max Preps has his .860 winning percentage as the 32nd best all-time percentage in the nation for football coaches. The High School Sports Report recognized Coach Hayes and the Dillon football program as “The Team of The Decade” in February, 2020 for an outstanding record of 131-10 between 2010 and 2019 when the Wildcats won five State Titles and 9 Lower State titles over that span.

As Coach Hayes accepted the three tier “Team of the Decade” award in front of 1,000 football fans from every area of South Carolina this past February, he said, “On behalf of our football program I accept this award and please know that we will continue working hard to develop players at Dillon High who do not mind working hard, and they know what it takes to get to the top,” said Coach Hayes. “Our players know what it takes to win, and they will continue to work hard along with our dedicated coaches. This award is not about me at all. This award is about all of those teams we have been blessed to coach and also be a part of.

“This award is for our community and our great fan base also,” said Coach Hayes. “Please know that I am very humbled to accept this award on behalf of the players, and our coaches who went out and made things happen.”  

Publishers Note: Over the holidays the HSSR will be going back into our copy righted archives that contain original articles, including photos, pertaining to our coverage of Jackie Hayes and the Dillon football program during his 29- year coaching career in order to share some of this history with our viewers at  The HSSR has published seven “24 page” special issues on each and every one of Dillon’s state title wins. Somewhere we hope to find over 1,000 pictures and over 100,000 words written in well over 500 articles pertaining to Coach Hayes and the Dillon Wildcats. His devoted wife Mandy e-mailed this writer on Tuesday asking for anything the HSSR might have to help her create a scrap book covering Jackie’s Hall of Fame career. We let her know that anything we have she can have absolutely free of charge!  

On a personal note, I had a 20-minute conversation with Coach Hayes Monday afternoon and I had called just to get a few wrap-up quotes on the 2020 season. Our conversations usually last about five minutes. Something in my gut told me that I might be the last reporter to get comments from him as the head football coach at Dillon, just like I had been the first reporter to get quotes from him mere seconds after his 14-0 win over Lake View back in 1992.  I literally begged him not to retire after he indicated he had made up his mind to announce his retirement this week.

Please understand that our beloved God only allows for so many totally original and self -made coaches like John McKissick and Jackie Hayes, two coaches I have always admired and followed closely. You do not replace God’s original treasured works in the persons of Coach Hayes and Coach McKissick easily.  This is why I didn’t want Jackie to retire.

After my father figure “Coach McKissick” retired in 2014 Summerville has not won at least 10 games in any season. The Green Wave might not ever win another state title and Coach McKissick won 10 of them.  I hope Coach Haye’s successor keeps on winning state titles, and he keeps on winning region titles, and keeps on having 10- win seasons. My many years of being around the now late Coach McKissick, and my last 29 years of closely following the career of Coach Hayes; even coming up with the nick name Nasty Cats for the Dillon defense, I fear in my heart that the dynasty could retire with him. Let’s hope not.

Jackie, thanks for lifting the spirits of the citizens of Dillon with that comeback season of 8-4 in 1992 after the misery of two years had produced a 1-21 nightmare under an outsider’s efforts. Thanks for taking that young man from one of your practices at Dillon, after you asked him why he was so weak looking during drills, to get something to eat after he told you he had nothing to eat for a couple days. You cared enough to ask him to show him where he lived and when you opened up the refrigerator in his home and saw just a half-empty jug of water you took action. You then went to the grocery store and got him some extra food and you had his mother looked into for leaving him in that situation when she went out of town. Thanks for caring!

You stopped by a Paul Chapman Dillon football practice early one August after you had just finished your college playing days and you had taken a Chemical sales job you might not have liked, and being at a Dillon football practice inspired you much more. You saw the Dillon quarterback struggling to run an option play correctly and your mentor Coach Chapman was getting madder and louder at the young man failing to understand a play that you had mastered to perfection a few years earlier when you wore the Black & Gold of Dillon football.  In your street clothes you yelled to the defense that you would show the new quarterback how to run the same play you had run to perfection back when you were a Shrine Bowl Wildcat. You challenged the defense to tackle you, never mind you were not in pads! You took the snap, made a counter move to freeze the linebackers, waited for the guard to pull and lead the play, and then you took off like a streak of lighting breaking a couple tackles and landing in a gravel pile just out of bounds face first! With your face bleeding, and one gravel bit still embedded in your cheek bone, you yelled “Run it Again!” Once more, Again! Then you told the young quarterback to get back in the huddle and make things happen. He responded rather well after he watched you demonstrate perfection!

It wasn’t long that you gave up that outside sales job and landed a job at Dillon High teaching and coaching under the great Paul Chapman, a true father figure in your own life.  It was never a debate if you would bring a winner to Dillon; the debate was over when would you be given the opportunity to make that happen. Ray Rogers saw in you what those Dillon players saw when you veered a few miles off that sales route preferring to jump right into the action in hopes of teaching a quarterback how to run a bread-and-butter play of Paul Chapman.

Jackie, one last question: “Will you reconsider your retirement from coaching! Please????)

Stay tuned to for more stories on the coaching career of Jackie Hayes over the holidays. Wait until you hear about how Jackie and Mandy first met! This story will be interesting I promise you!

Long live the Coaching Legend & Outstanding Accomplishments of Jackie Hayes! 









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