Coach Napier portrait mlh.jpg

(Matt Hamilton/The Daily Citizen)

Bill Napier, a longtime north Georgia football coach who battled ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), passed away Tuesday night.

Originally from Tennessee, Napier was part of the high school football coaching landscape of northwest Georgia since 1983, working with the programs at Murray County, Southeast Whitfield, Adairsville and most recently as Dalton offensive coordinator.

In Napier’s 16 seasons as a head coach for the Indians, Murray County was 94-78-1. His 2000 squad went 10-3, losing in the quarterfinal playoffs on the road at Shaw, which finished the season undefeated as the Class 4A state champs. Both his 1999 and 2000 teams reached 10 wins with back-to-back wins over rival Dalton.

Beyond the victories and statistics, coaches and former players admired Napier's character and lauded his contributions to them off the field. A scholarship program was created in his name and has helped several area students attend college. Payton Veraldi, a former all-area quarterback for Dalton High who plays at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky, has received the Bill Napier Scholarship Award three times.

"It's a huge honor to continue to come here and be a part of this award," Veraldi said in a Daily Citizen-News article in May. "Not just for me, but to see some of the younger guys get the chance to continue their education. I definitely want to continue being involved any way I can. I helped out a little bit this year coordinating the event and making sure everyone was here. I look forward to continuing it long after my playing career is over, continuing to work with young players to help them receive this scholarship and speak on coach Napier's behalf."

Napier was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2013. He continued as Dalton's offensive coordinator well after the diagnosis.

There is no cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the famous New York Yankees baseball player whose life was cut short by the disease. There are no proven treatments to reverse its effects.

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