Remembering Tony McKee: High School Highlights and Lowlights

Posted by Andy Durham on February 13, 2006 at 7:34 pm under High School | Read the First Comment

The death of Tony McKee, former Smith High School football coach has caused sadness throughout the local sports community. I will remember Coach McKee as a very thoughtful young man that did one heck of a job of rebuilding the Smith football program back in the late 90’s. I can remember back in ’98 when Smith beat High Point Andrews, then they beat High Point Central coached by Gary Whitman, and then Smith later beat Dudley like a drum and the Eagles were on solid ground under the leadership of Coach Tony McKee.

Coach McKee was a soft-spoken man that knew his material and he knew it well. He played his high school ball at Dudley and then moved on to Virginia Tech. Tony was receiver for the the Bill Dooley coached teams up in Blacksburg. Tony’s teammates included Kenny Lewis from Danville, (Lewis was a swift runningback) Mickey Fitzgearld from Lynchburg,(a very big, strong tight end) and then there was the best back to ever come out of Virginia Tech, Cyrus Lawrence. Cyrus Lawrence was a better runner than “Famous Amos” Lawrence. I was a listener to Virginia Tech Hokie football back in those days and I knew the names of every player in the state of Virginia.

I remember Tony McKee when I was broadcasting high school football games and Coach McKee did not like to the pre-game interviews but he did them any way. I once found him hiding in a stall over at A&T State University during some trying times at Smith and Coach McKee still did the interview. On that night he told me he wasn’t sure how much longer he would be doing the coaching at Smith and by year’s end he was on his way down to Georgia.

One night over at Dudley H.S. I was doing the boys Dudley-Smith basketball game(on radio) and I pulled in coach McKee for the halftime interview. He seemed very at ease doing the halftime talk and I asked him to stick around and do the commentary for the second half. He hung in and did a great job. The building was always packed for the Smith-Dudley games and since my scheduled partner for the game hadn’t showed up on this particular night, I was glad to have Coach Tony McKee by my side. As I mentioned earlier Coach McKee was soft-spoken and laid back but he knew what he was talking about when it came to sports and I mean all sports. Tony knew his stuff.

We will miss Coach McKee and we send our condolances to his family and especially to his wife Jala Anderson and to his father Jonathan McKee Sr. Jala Anderson McKee was the former News 2 weekend news anchor and I feel like she was excellent at that position. Why News 2 messed up and let her go I will never know. Most of the viewers probably never knew that Tony and Jala were husband and wife. Coach McKee rest in peace and we just want to let you know that you were loved and that you left us way too soon. Former Page Pirate coach Bob Via may have summed up situations like this best by saying that we know, ” All Things Happen for a Reason”.

The basketball scene was wrapping up it’s regualar season back on Friday night and the Northwest Guilford boys saved their best for the last game by defeating Page 51-47 in overtime. Alfonso Scandrett hit for 20 and Pat Furr added 12 to give the Vikings their biggest win of the year. Northwest had been so close all year long and they finally got over the hump against Page. Coach Mike Everette deserves much credit for keeping his men focused and Scandrett hit 2 free throws to knot it up at 43 all and help send the game into OT. The Vikings prevailed and with Furr and Scandrett they had the chance to put pressure on Shelton Carter and Marsharee Neley.

The Viking girls were also victorious over the Pirates and since it was Senior Night the young ladies were more than ready to celebrate their 62-41 win at the post-game party thrown by the parents after the games in the Northwest gym. The gym is barely a couple of years old and Athletic Director John Hughes has a lot to be proud of and plenty to work with at NWG. Coach Darlene Joyner was watching her daughter Whitney play her last regular season game on the Viking’s court.

We will feature our Top Ten Polls in Tuesday’s edition and we will wrap up the other games from last weekend. The conference tournaments get under way this week and it will be a busy time with the sectionals and regionals coming up right around the corner. This is the fun time, because it now becomes elimination basketball.

Congrats to Joey Cheek the skater from Greensboro who won GOLD at the Winter Olympics. He took Gold in the 500 meters and this should put the 26 year-old on the map when it comes to world-wide recognition. Cheek has a shot at two more Gold medals before he retires at the end of the Winter Games. TJ Rich a young hockey player from Greensboro is competing in the International Hockey Games in Canada this week and he is facing off with players from around the world. TJ’s Junior Carolina Hurricane team lost their first game in Canada to Romania 4-2.

The Movie of the Week at the Lawndale Drive- In was, “The Fish That Saved Pittsburg” There is nothing like the feeling of being in an old time Drive-In Theater and watching an ESPN movie classic. Doctor “J” Julius Erving was the star of the movie and his voice of encouragement was none other than that of James Bond III. On the flight home our flight attendants were Amy, Heather, and Caroline and the trip back in time from the old Drive-In was made possible by our well-trained Pilot Dr. Tim Duhon. Doctor/Pilot Duhon knows the Pittsburg area well and I would reccomend his leadership to any aspiring travelers. The word is that Dr. Duhon drives a pretty mean motor scooter during his time on the ground.


  • Coach Andrea Smith said,

    Thank you Mr. Andy Durham for the wonderful rememberance and reflections
    you wrote about Tony McKee. He was a kind man with a lot of love for the game!