Legendary Kentucky high school coach dies


PAINTSVILLE, KY (WOWK) – A legendary Kentucky high school coach, gone too soon. 

Johnson Central head football and wrestling coach Jim Matney had been experiencing covid symptoms for some time.

“Coach had gone into one of our local hospitals,” said athletic director Tommy McKenzie. “And there was no doubt in my mind he was gonna turn around and walk outta there, to be honest. But things just escalated so quickly.”

Even though he was getting worse, his family and community still had hope.

“We all felt deep down that he was gonna be back with us in some capacity,” said McKenzie. “So it’s a big loss to us obviously. But most importantly, it’s a big loss to his wife Debbie and sons Dalton and Carson. You know, they lost a husband and a father. So those are the people we’re thinking most about.”

Matney built quite the resume in his nearly two decades at the high school.

“He was a winner,” said McKenzie. “He was a champion. He was an icon. And I know that term gets thrown around some when you talk about athletes and coaches and things… but Coach Matney truly was.”

Matney collected two football state championships in 2016 and 2019, and racked up over a dozen appearances in wrestling championships.

“Coach was very very outspoken about being from the mountains, about being from Eastern Kentucky,” McKenzie said. “But it wasn’t just Eastern Kentucky; as you can see with social media…”

Tuesday night, across the Bluegrass State, high schools and colleges showed an outpouring of support; ‘leaving the lights on’ for Coach Matney.

There will be a walk through visitation for Coach Matney, held in the gymnasium of the Johnson Central High School on Sunday, October 3rd from 6:00-9:00pm.

Funeral services will be held at the Johnson Central Football Stadium on Monday at 1:00pm with visitation starting at 11:00am. In the event of inclement weather, services will be moved to the gymnasium.

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