T.C. Williams (Photo courtesy of acpsk12.org)
Legendary coach Bill Yoast, who led the Titans for a historic season, dead at 94
by Jim McGrath, recruitNoVA
One of the icons of Alexandria sports history is gone. Bill Yoast, former football coach at Francis C. Hammond and T.C. Williams High schools passed away on Friday. He was 94.
Yoast, who was born in 1924, grew up in Florence, Alabama, and was a star high school athlete. After high school, he serve d three years in the Air Force before settling on Georgia Military College and Mercer University, where he continued his athletic career, as well as earning a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education. He later earned a Masters, and Ed.S. degree from Peabody College in Nashville.
Yoast decided to devote his life to teaching and coaching. His initial foray as a football coach was not successful as his first team at Sparta High (GA) went 4-35-1 under his tutelage from 1949-1952. He had more success with his second team, Roswell High, posting a 25-33-1 record from 1954-59, including a region title in 1956.
However, Yoast and his family, which included wife Betty, and four daughters: Bonnie (1951–2003), Angela (born 1956), Sheryl (1962–1996), and Deidre (born 1968), moved to Alexandria in the late 1950’s, and Yoast found his greatest football success, coaching at Francis C. Hammond High. Under Yoast, the Admirals won the Northern Virginia regional championship in 1969.
Yet it would be Yoast’s next move that eventually made him famous. In 1971, in response to the Supreme Court ruling on the Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case, which legitimized busing as a method to achieve desegregation, the city of Alexandria adopted the K6-2-2-2 Plan (Kindergarten through sixth grade for Elementary school, two years in Middle school, two years in junior (Grades 9-10) high school and two years in Senior (Grades 11-12) high School). The plan was to bring racial and economic balance to the city school system. With the Alexandria school board voting to integrate schools, Hammond and George Washington High schools became the city junior high schools for 9th and 10th graders, leaving a newer school, T.C. Williams, built in 1965, as the only senior high school in the city.
Yoast was put on the staff of newly hired T.C. football coach Herman Boone, who had moved from North Carolina to accept the head position. The bonding of Boone and Yoast, and the effect on the Titan team would form the storyline of Disney’s 2000 movie “Remember the Titans,” starring Denzel Washington as Boone, and Will Patton, as Yoast.
The 1971 team that formed the backbone of the movie, won the Virginia state championship while compiling a 13-0 record and #2 national ranking. Defense was the team’s calling card, and the Titans allowed just 45 points during the season, while pitching eight shutouts, including one in the 27-0 state final win over Andrew Lewis. (Note: The close game over Marshall which served as the movie’s “state final” was a 21-16 win for T.C. in Week 5)
Yoast also coached baseball and track in Alexandria, and he was named a Coach of the Year in both Georgia and Virginia. After retirement, Yoast moved to Fenwick Island, DE, where he was well known for his newfound fame, as well as his beachside residence, aptly named “The Coach House.”
– Jim McGrath