Irwin County HS (GA) head coach Buddy Nobles had uncharacteristically dropped about 30 pounds, had been needing more rest than usual, and wasn't as hungry as he normally was when we realized he should probably see a doctor.
Up until that point, Nobles (who was hired in 2014) helped build Irwin County into one of the top programs in the state, leading the team to five region titles and five state finals appearances in six seasons.
That hospital trip, and the news that came along with it, changed his life forever. Nobles found out he had stomach cancer heading into the 2019 season. Depending on your perspective, finding his diagnosis so close to football season was either the worst timing possible, or football became the best distraction you could ask for in the face of such tremendous adversity. He decided to look at football as just the distraction he needed.
Despite the grim diagnosis, Nobles also refused to allow his family, team, or the surrounding community to have a "woe is me" attitude. He wanted to hear nothing of the sort.
His team and staff rallied around him and the team captured their first state title since the mid-70's. Not only did they win in the state title game, it was a 56-14 route over Marion County HS (GA). Nobles went on to be named Georgia Class A Public-school coach of the year.
Nobles found himself back in the hospital around the Christmas holiday battling health issues.
Then, last night, after a battle that spanned a couple of months, coach Nobles sadly passed.
Just after his diagnosis, and before the season that would end in a special state title got started, Nobles sat down with local media to talk about his cancer diagnosis. He opens up about his fear of the unknown, how his family and team have dealt with the news, and how great the coaching community has been in rallying around him after learning the unfortunate news.
The video of the late coach is a great reminder of the precious gift of life that we all have, and is an important life lesson on perspective on health that we should never take for granted.