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Sexton, Dodgen combine for 1,082 coaching wins


The first letter of Lynn Sexton’s first name can be located in an appropriate place in the dictionary.

It’s in the same section as “legendary.”


Truth be known, Lynn might as well be Sexton’s middle name. To many people, and in a couple of hall of fames, he is the “legendary” Lynn Sexton.

After being born in the back bedroom of the family home in Friendsville, the long-time basketball coach at Farragut High School won 544 games from 1961 until 1991.

“Lynn Sexton is [the] Farragut basketball coach,” said Donald Dodgen, who has been the coach for 10 years. “He set the standards for success and includes three state tournament trips. He was not only great on the basketball court, but in the classroom as well. He was an excellent teacher.

“Lynn Sexton was a teacher coach,” Dodgen added. “He was not only teaching kids in the classroom, but on the basketball floor, too. His teams were always very well prepared and he was a fierce competitor. He would always try and find a way to beat you.”

It’s impossible to welcome another season of Admirals basketball without thinking about coach Sexton. The dressing room is named in his honor and so is the gymnasium. From the time a player first laces up his or her shoes until the final horn sounds, coach Sexton is still a big part of what takes place.

“We were fortunate to have some great kids that were a pleasure to be associated with,” said Sexton, whose 1982-83 team won 36 in a row before a two-point loss to Nashville East in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. “People used to ask me all the time how [many] games I had won. I was kind of like (former Atlanta Braves pitcher) Phil Neikro in that TV commercial. He says the number of wins very plainly, but when it comes to the losses he kind of rubs his hand across his mouth and mumbles.”

For the record, Sexton was 544-353 at Farragut. His successor, Mike Edwards, won 93 games in just five seasons. Dodgen has been in coaching for 33 years and has 538 wins, including 195 at Farragut.

This means that Sexton and Dodgen have combined for 1,082 victories between a former and current coach. Can any other school in the Knoxville Interscholastic League even come close to that? Would Bob Fry and Jody Wright of Fulton have the best chance?

It is a remarkable testament to longevity and Farragut has been fortunate to have such outstanding leadership for so long.

“I think it speaks very highly of coach Sexton,” said Dodgen, who still asks the former head coach and ex-assistant John Heatherly to be in the team photo every year. “Mark Blevins [at Bearden] is a really good coach, but he hasn’t been around long enough to do something like this. Johnny Darden might because he is older than dirt.”

The 72-year-old Sexton still checks the weather report to see if it’s going to be warm enough to play golf. Has been around long enough to be inducted into hall of fames in Knoxville and Maryville. He seems to take great delight in having coached a couple of former NFL players — Bill Bates and Neil Clabo — and helping develop 7-foot and 6-11 brothers Steve Carpenter and Mike Carpenter.

Along the way, there were such talented Admirals basketball players as Jimmy Elliott and Bill Clements.

Few schools could match Farragut’s run from the late 1970s until the early 1980s. This also coincided with the opening of a new school. In the era before classifications, the team’s final record was 22-4, 29-7, 29-6, 28-5, 29-5, 32-2 and 36-1.

Yet Sexton’s best coaching job might have been a .500 record (15-15) in 1983-84. A stellar season the year before had seen the team’s top six players graduate. Coach Sexton will always be proud of the group that came along next.

“Our record at one point was something like six-and-ten, but we finished up fifteen-and-fifteen,” he said. “We were competitive.”

He’s always felt a coach gets too much credit for a win and too much blame for a loss. You couldn’t hardly blame him at all after the Admirals won just one game in his first season.

“That was a hundred percent improvement over the previous year,” he said, laughing. “They didn’t win a game at all the year before and, let me tell you, the first five years we hardly won any.”

Coach Sexton stuck around long enough to celebrate 543 wins after that first season. He will be talked about — and admired, respected and appreciated — as long as games are played and families are raised.



Award-winning columnist Chuck Cavalaris writes a bi-monthly column for farragutpress. Send questions or comments to cavgolfer@aol.com. He also is a home loan officer at National City Mortgage and can be reached at 865-769-9295.

 

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