From Bearcats to Red Devils

VI. The Appendix: Coach Thomas Bunch

(Note: This was written in 1980, and has not been updated to reflect the years since.)

A quick smile and winning season record become the trademark of the 1957-1971 Lincolnton Coach, Thomas Bunch "Zero" as he was affectionately called, a man of unfailing grace, ability and sportsmanship, proved to be the glue that held Lincolnton's football program together through the good and the tough times for over a decade. Presently he serves as athletic director of the Lincoln County School System.

Coach Bunch was born on June 11, 1920 to Francis Elizabeth and G. W. Bunch. He married Alice Norman on May 17, 1947. They have three Children; Thomas Jr., Timothy and Carol Lynn. After completing studies at the University of Georgia in 1951, he went to Washington High School and served as assistant football and girls basketball coach in 1952, 1953 and 1954. He then went to Tignall High School as coach in 1955. He received his Masters Degree from Athens in 1957 while he was assistant coach in Lincolnton. He coached at Lincolnton from 1956 to 1971 acting as Head Coach from 1961 to 1971.

Thomas Bunch has won more games and coached longer at Lincoln County than any other coach since its conception. He coached for eleven years and won back to back State Championships in 1962 and 1963 with almost flawless performances. He had better than a two to one win-loss record, a fact admired by many throughout the state.

Two of his most ardent supporters were his wife, Alice and his daughter Lynn who cheered not only for their husband/father, the Coach, but also for his sons, Tommy and Tim, who played at Lincolnton. Coach Bunch gave it his all and spent many hours doing the mental tasks other Coaches might relegate to underlings.

Coach Bunch's last year just might have been his finest performance even in the presence of his two State Championships. In this year Lincolnton High School become Lincoln County High and integration of not only the schools, but the football team as well occurred. With no spring practice at all and only a few weeks of summer practice, Coach Bunch put together a team that worked as a unit instead of a disarray of uncoached individuals. It took the sort of man Thomas Bunch is to completely and thoroughly fill this role as he did. He was always gentle and understanding, yet firm and in control of his players. Other towns may have had problems, but not Lincolnton, largely due to the efforts of "Zero" Bunch.

Coach Larry Campbell