As successful football coaches tend to be Jesse Dyess was meticulous about details.
It was one of the reasons that Dyess, who passed away last Friday after complications from Parkinson’s disease, fared so well during his years as the North Gwinnett head coach, according to longtime Central Gwinnett head coach Tally Johnson. Johnson, now retired, coached against Dyess and later hired him as an assistant at Central.
Dyess, who was 81, coached the Bulldogs from 1976-82 and again from 1988-89.
“He was real methodical about things,” Johnson said. “When it was done, it was done one way, the right way. He didn’t leave a lot for chance. I used to kid him. When he looked at film, he wanted to watch it again and again and again. I told him it’s not going to change. They’re going to run the same thing whether we watch it again or not. I told him, if you want to come back and watch it later, you can. But he was good with kids and they related to him, too. That’s the reason I hired him.”
Until Dennis Roland arrived in 2004, Dyess’ run at North brought the most consistent stretch of winning in school history.
He had a 39-29 record and four winning seasons during his first tenure with the Bulldogs. His seven-win season in 1982 stood as the most single-season wins in school history until Roland won nine in 2004.
“Those were some of the best teams they ever had (at North),” Johnson said. “They were always hard-nosed and they always played really good football. They played old-school, hard-nosed defensive football.”
Dyess coached high school football for more than 30 years both in his native Florida — he grew up in Wildwood and went to Florida State — and in Georgia. His first coaching job was at Fitzgerald, where he went 39-7 in four seasons and won Georgia Athletic Coaches Association coach of the year honors in 1969 and 1971. He then coached at Ware County and East Laurens before being hired at North.
Dyess, who moved back to Fitzgerald in 1995, is survived by his wife of 60 years, Betty, three children and six grandchildren. His funeral service was held Sunday in Fitzgerald. A burial is planned later in Wildwood.