Wednesday, February 26, 2014
A Lowcountry coaching legend is leaving the sideline and heading off into retirement.
Longtime Stratford football coach Ray Stackley on Friday announced he would be retiring at the end of the school year.
Stackley, 63, was head coach of the Knights since 1985 and won 269 career games as the coach on Crowfield Boulevard. Most recently, he guided SHS to the Class AAAA Div. II championship game this season. The Knights finished 12-3 and lost to Northwestern 62-35 in the finale.
Stackley and the Knights had one state title to their credit, 1999, and they played for two others, including this past season. The other title appearance came in 2004 when they lost to Rock Hill.
The 1999 season was the crown jewel in a decade of dominance from 1997-2006. Stackley’s teams were 118-18 during the stretch and finished nationallly-ranked in 1999.
Another career highlight includes guiding an underdog Shrine Bowl team to a 23-19 victory in the annual battle of the Carolinas all-star teams in 2012. He was a Shrine Bowl assistant when the Sandlappers set the scoring record in a game several years earlier.
Also, at the annual Berkeley County School District scholarship signing ceremony earlier this month, he pointed out the Knights have gotten over 160 football players to the college level.
Berkeley Athletic Director and Football Coach Jeff Cruce called Stackley’s retirement announcement a huge loss for Berkeley County athletics.
“It’s a huge loss but I’m happy for Ray that he was able to go out into retirement on his own terms playing for a state championship. Ray has been one of those guys you can call and get advice from, and he was always there for me over the years.
“He will be missed at Stratford and around Berkeley County but I’m sure whomever they hire there will carry on the winning tradition he has put in place.”
Cross Athletic Director and Football Coach Shaun Wright wished Stackley the best as he gets set to begin his retirement.
“Ray Stackley has been a great asset not only to Berkeley County but this entire state in dealing with Athletics,” Wright said. “He has always helped me and I am extremely appreciative of that. He has earned everything he’s gotten and has always done it the right way. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Timberland AD and football coach Art Craig called Stackley a class act.
“You don’t get in the hall of fame or have a field named after you unless you do it the right way. He has always helped me out and he has been a great mentor for me in Berkeley County. He is what high school coaches are about.”