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Beloved North Natchez coach remembered

NATCHEZ — George W. Smith, who led the North Natchez High School Rams to two boys state championships in basketball, died on April 15. He was 86.

Smith coached both football and basketball. Smith began his coaching career at Sadie V. Thompson as the football coach in 1965.

Smith spent five years as the head football coach at Sadie V. Thompson High School before becoming the head football coach of North Natchez in 1971.

Smith spent two years as the head football coach for the Rams before ending his football-coaching career in 1973. Smith finished with a combined overall record of 51-29-4.

During nine years away from coaching, Smith received his master’s degree from University of Southern Mississippi in administration. He became the assistant principal of North Natchez in 1975.

Smith was the assistant principal at North Natchez for 21 years before his retirement in 1996.

In 1982, Smith was named the Rams head boys basketball coach.

After coaching the Rams for two years, Smith won the first basketball championship in 1984 for Natchez.

The Rams played against the Tupelo High School Golden Wave in the MHSAA Class 2A State championship game. The Rams won 78-63 over the Golden Wave.

Darryl Smith, son of George Smith, played on the 1984 state basketball championship team.

Through sports, Darryl Smith said his father taught him to be tough and play the game the right way.

“He made sure I did the right thing that I was supposed to do while I played sports,” Darryl Smith said. “With me, he coached me in different sports. He let me do my own thing but he guided me.”

Robbin Harris played on the 1984 basketball team.

For their efforts in the 1984 boys basketball season, Harris was named The Natchez Democrat All-Metro Player of the Year.

Meanwhile, George Smith was named The Natchez Democrat All-Metro Coach of the Year for the 1984 boys basketball season.

“The day that we won the championship, I will never forget that day,” Harris said. “It felt like it was what Natchez needed. When we ran off that floor, everybody squeezed and hugged him.

“He was a man that everybody respected. When he talked, everybody listened. He was more than a coach. He was a father figure and always there for everyone.”

Four years later, 1988, the Rams returned to play in the state championship game. This time, North Natchez squared off against the Jim Hill High School Tigers in the MHSAA Class 4A State championship game.

North Natchez won 89-84 over Jim Hill for the Rams second boys basketball state championship.

George Smith ended his coaching career in 1989. Smith finished with an overall record of 133-36.

Barney Schoby lived next to the Smiths his entire life and said he’s going to remember the kindness and generosity George Smith showed him.

“He was not only a mentor but he was a father to the fatherless,” Schoby said. “Coach Smith coached a lot of kids that came from single parents and he was a father to a lot of those kids. He not only cared about their athletic ability but also their education and their wellbeing as a person.”