LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – The memories and stories of Jerry Dagley, who was laid to rest this weekend, continue coming in to WLAF. “He is worthy of praise. He’s one of the top three individuals I’ve ever met with that quality of character. He had a great influence on everybody,” said David Crutchfield, who played on Coach Dagley’s first varsity basketball team at La Follette High School.
Crutchfield shared a story of Dagley’s discipline. “You know he was a Mears disciple (Ray Mears was the Tennessee coach at the time). I played with some older players up north the summer before my senior year, and I learned a lot from them, but it cost me one night. We were playing in the Halls Christmas Tournament, and I threw a perfect behind the back pass from the top of the key to the wing. Coach yanked me right out of the game,” said Crutchfield.
He really brought Gary Gray along that season, 1968-69, Gray’s sophomore year. Gary was 6-6 and could barely run the floor, but he was starting before the season was over, according to Crutchfield.
Dagley, at age 24, was coaching his first varsity team, and that team really came along as the season progressed. Of the four seasons Dagley was a head coach, many say that first team, starring Crutchfield, was his best falling short of the state tournament by one game.
“David Bishop had a great year that year, too, and we were poised to beat Oak Ridge at our place,” said Crutchfield. Crutchfield described the team as too pumped up and too ready for the OR game, and the Wildcats ended up pulling out a four or five point win.
Three teams qualified for the region from the district tournament that was played at Lake City High School, and the Owls made the region. The region tournament was played at Stokely Center, the homecourt of the Tennessee Vols.
“We beat Norma (now a part of Scott High) in the opening round of the region. They had that big left hander, Henry Hutson, and boy, was he good. He put up 40 on us that night,” said Crutchfield.
Crutchfield emphasized 24 to 9. That was the lead La Follette had on Holston the next game in the region tournament. Holston was led by Gary England, the younger brother of Tennessee All-American Jimmy England, who went on to star at Auburn.
Holston came back on the Vols that night and pulled out a 41-40 win with Crutchfield’s 20 points leading the way for the Owls. Late in the contest, Crutchfield stepped off the raised floor and turned his ankle, but he was still able to finish the game leaving the Owls at 20 and 10 for the year.
“Coach Dagley was a man of integrity, and he gave me a few lectures,” recalls Crutchfield. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 07/24/2023-6AM)