DOBSON — The Golden Eagle family lost one of its own late Thursday night when former Surry Central all-conference athlete and assistant coach Dave Wilmoth died in a traffic accident.
“When I heard about it, it just broke my heart,” football coach Monty Southern said Friday evening. “I’ve been in a daze all day.”
Southern said he pulled out a tape of Dave’s football highlights and watched it again Friday afternoon.
“He looked good running the triple option,” said Southern. He had good quickness and threw the ball well.
Glancing back over some stats from his two decades in coaching, Southern said he believed Dave is one of only three Eagles to rush for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season (2009).
Dave didn’t even play quarterback in his previous two years on varsity, the coach noted. As a junior, Wilmoth was an all-conference selection at safety in the old Mountain Valley Conference.
That forced Dave to take on a greater leadership role with the team.
Wilmoth also made all-conference in basketball as a junior.
Coach Ken Eiswald had told the young man that he needed to improve on defense to become a more complete player. He responded to the challenge.
By his senior season, however, Surry Central had moved into the newly formed Northwest 1A/2A Conference, and he failed to make the all-conference team in either sport.
Part of it was switching to a new league, where coaches were familiar with him, said Southern. Another factor was that he was so valuable on offense that the coach held him out of the secondary, where he’d made his mark the year before.
Likewise, he was in a new conference for basketball, but also took on a new role there.
Myles Wilmoth, Central athletic director, was an assistant coach for Dave’s senior year. He said the senior came to the coaches and told them that he just wanted to win, he didn’t care about scoring.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win, even if I don’t get all-conference,” Myles recalled hearing Dave say.
Dave, who was a cousin to Myles, was always willing to take a hard foul, set a pick or dive for loose balls.
Dave didn’t play a sport in the spring because he was too busy getting ready for the next year, said Southern. He wasn’t very big, but he spent a lot of time in the weight room getting stronger and building endurance.
The football team struggled to a 2-9 record in 2009, but still got into the playoffs as the lowest seed.
The guys really believed they could knock off top-seeded Starmount, and they nearly pulled off the upset, Southern recalled.
When talking to Eiswald and former assistant coach Jeff Edmonds, Myles Wilmoth said all three of them were drawn back to the same memory.
That senior year, Surry Central trailed North Stokes with just two seconds on the clock.
The long inbounds pass was tipped, but Dave caught the ball out past the three-point line and hurriedly fired the ball up before the buzzer.
When the ball dropped through the net for the win, the Eagle players picked Dave up and carried him off the floor, said Myles.
After graduation, Dave spent a year at Lenoir-Rhyne, but came back home and started taking classes at Surry Community College, said Southern. He helped with the football team for three years until he earned his law enforcement certification and became a Dobson policeman.
This past fall, Wilmoth helped with security at home football games.
He loved being in uniform and seemed to have his life going in a great direction, said Southern. He said his dream was to become a school resource officer and work in one of the local high schools.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Dave was on duty working at a basketball game, said Myles Wilmoth. “I told him, ‘I love having you back in the gym.’ He said, ‘I’d almost do it for nothing.’”
Reach Jeff at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.