Who was Buddy Bufford? Why is a man who was a head coach for only three years and won a total of 25 games memorialized with a stadium named in his honor?
TO understand the honor, you have to understand the man. Carroll Walton Bufford was born and raised in Lincoln County. After his graduation from Lincolnton High School in 1944, he entered the Army and served as part of the Army of Occupation in Japan. After his discharge, he used the GI Bill to enter the University of Georgia and graduated with honors.
He then worked for a number of years for Jefferson Mills as their recreation director.
In 1957 he was asked to return to Lincolnton and take over a football program that had won only 12 games in the previous six years.
Coach Bufford brought a love for the game, the players and over the next three plus years the Lincolnton Red Devils compiled a record of 30 wins, 10 losses and 2 ties.
In 1960, the Lincolnton Red Devils were not favored in several games but went on to a 12-0 season culminating with the Class C State Championship with a resounding win over heavily favored Dade County. In that first ever championship season, the Devils defeated evenutal Class B state champion Washington-Wilkes by a score of 25-19 and outscored all opponents by a 414-90 point margin.
Coach Bufford had been diagnosed with cancer in 1959 and was sick most of the 1960 season but drove himself to win, and in the process, inspired his team to achieve what many thought impossible.
Coach Bufford was an example and a leader who created the tradition of winning football in Lincolnton in a way that is not likely to be forgotten by anyone who know him or knew of him. In the end the little team from Lincolnton placed four players on the 1960 All-State team and the Red Devil center, Gene Goldman, was named Class C Lineman of the Year. Coach Bufford was named Coach of the Year.
Buddy Bufford died on February 24, 1961, at the age of 33 leaving behind a wife and four children and a legacy that has grown over the years. The senior class of 1961 used their senior trip money to purchase the Buddy Bufford Field sign originally installed at the main entrance in front of the gym. It was moved to its present location when the field and stadium were renovated in 1976. The sign was refinished in 2009.
(Special thanks to Garnett Wallace for the above article, which originally appeared in the LC Football Program.)