Legendary high school football coach Herman Boone — who was immortalized by Denzel Washington in the actor’s award-winning portrayal of the T.C. Williams coach in the movie “Remember the Titans” — has died.
He was 84.
Former principal, John Porter, confirmed Boone’s passing to the school Wednesday.
Boone became the coach at T.C. Williams in 1971, the same year that Alexandria, Virginia, consolidated all high schools, which had recently been integrated, breaking a chain of racial segregation that historically posioned the area.
The movie highlighted the tension and racial discord that was prevalent when Boone replaced a popular white coach, Bill Yoast, as head football coach. Boone was tasked with winning, enduring death threats and racial vitriol, unifying the white and black players and satisfying the largely racist, football-crazed local residents.
That year, the T.C. Williams football team went undefeated, won a Virginia state championship and was national title runner-up.
The outpour of appreciation and reflection on social media was tremendous.
— Nicholas Wilson (@NickWilsonSays) December 18, 2019
“ACPS and the @TCWTitans community will never forget his contribution to bringing our city together post-segregation,” the school system tweeted out Wednesday.
“Sad to hear of the loss of an Alexandria legend and pioneer,” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted. “Coach Boone was an irreplaceable part of our history and integral in building the community we enjoy today.”
They say everything comes in threes and the T.C. Williams community has lost a triumverant of legendary figures associated with Boone’s perfectly proud,painful and prideful moment in history,
Assistant coach Yoast, who was also a prominent character in Remember The Titans, died in May. He was 94, and he served as a coach for Alexandria City Public Schools for over 30 years. And, in July, Petey Jones (Donald Faison in the movie), a star of the 1971 team who later became a longtime T.C. Williams staff member, died at 65.
It is with great sadness that we share the sad news of the passing of former Head Football Coach Herman Boone who lead the Titans to the State Championship in 1971🏈. #RIP@TCWilliamsAD @TCWSports @AlexandriaPatch @AlexandriaNow @AlexGazette pic.twitter.com/4I0DFAAWSF
— T.C. Williams H.S. Football Boosters (@TCTitanFootball) December 18, 2019
According to a 1979 Washington Post article, the team went on to win four district titles and two regional ones under Boone. But, in 1979, Boone was fired from his coaching position amid allegations of player abuse.
In 2016, the North Carolina native was named one of Alexandria’s Living Legends.
He was an oldschool hardhat who got the best out of his players by pushing them, demanding respect and insisting that they work harder and hold each other accountable. He overcame an impossible situation with his love of football and understanding of people, proving to be a true leader.