“Red” was also the last head football coach at
Granite Falls; sons followed him into coaching
By CHRIS HOBBS
GRANITE FALLS – Don “Red” Kirkpatrick — the last head football coach at old Granite Falls High and the first at South Caldwell — died on Tuesday morning.
His son, Marc, notified HobbsDailyReport.com on Tuesday that his father passed away at 9:05 a.m. that morning, at home with his family.
Marc Kirkpatrick honored a request by the writer of this article asking permission to post a story to the sports website before specific details of services were announced by the family.
Chris Hobbs — editor and content coordinator of HobbsDailyReport.com — had a working relationship and friendship with Red Kirkpatrick of nearly 50 years.
They first met through now-retired prep football coach Dick Foster when Hobbs (63) was 14 and taught by Foster, who was then head football coach at Bandys High. Foster was an all-state running back for Red Kirkpatrick during the 1950s at Granite Falls.
Red Kirkpatrick was the head coach in 1977 when South Caldwell opened as a consolidation of Granite Falls and Hudson, and he guided the Spartans to an 11-3 record and second place in the state 3A football bracket.
South Caldwell won a Northwestern 3A title in its first season with a lineup that included record-setters in quarterback Donnie Kirkpatrick, Red’s son, and wide receiver Joe Davis. They connected on two passes in the final 5 ½ minutes of the final Granite Falls game in 1976, erasing a deficit to beat St. Stephens at M.S. Deal Stadium.
Red Kirkpatrick coached the Spartans for another six seasons after that, retiring after the 1983 season with a record of 27-46-1 in Hudson. His final win was 33-0 at home over Watauga early that season (1-9 team).
Donnie Kirkpatrick played college football at Lenoir-Rhyne University and is currently in his 38th season of coaching college football. He has been offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at East Carolina since 2018, and has been an assistant (and significant recruiter) at Appalachian State, South Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Louisville, Chattanooga and James Madison. He was head coach at UTC for three years (2000-2002).
Red Kirkpatrick remained a fixture in South Caldwell athletic history for the rest of his life.
Marc Kirkpatrick played quarterback for his dad n 1982 and 1983 — throwing for five scores as a junior (girls’ basketball and baseball head coach Jeff Parham also played on that team) — and leading the Spartans in scoring as a senior with three rushing TDs and six TD passes.
Marc Kirkpatrick played college football at Appalachian State before becoming a high school teacher and coach.
When the younger Kirkpatrick left coaching in May of 2021 — after four seasons with a record of 11-30 and three teams reaching the postseason — he was asked his favorite part of coaching at his alma mater.
“I guess when mom and dad came to the games,” he quickly said.
His dad was 90 and his mom was 87 when he left coaching football.
Chris Hobbs — whose full-time employment in newspapers began as sports editor of The Lenoir News-Topic in 1979 — has had South Caldwell High sports on his “beat” as a sports writer or editor every year since the school opened. That includes following Spartans athletics the last five years for HobbsDailyReport.com., his own local sports website. In August, Hobbs will begin his 47th school year working with the school.