“Jug” Ralph Wilson
Inducted 1995

>>> Watch Video <<<


Hickory High School All Conference player – Football, Baseball, Basketball
Selected to NC Shrine Bowl Team
Scholarship to Clemson University
Catawba College Lettered in Baseball and Football
Baseball Conference Champions
Tangerine Bowl Champions
Tangerine Bowl Champions
Football Team Captain and MVP, All conference, Little All American, All State
Named Mr. Catawba
Head Coach Glen Alpine Green Wave
  - 15 Skyline Conference Football Championships
  - Coached Conference Champions in Baseball, Girls and Boys Basketball
Head Coach Freedom Patriots
  - (Athletic Director and Track Coach)
  - 3 Conference Championships
  - 2 Track Conference Championships
Lions Bowl Co-Coach
WNC Coach of the Year
Pepsi Prep Coach of the Year
Shrine Bowl Asst Coach
North-South Bowl Asst Coach
Scholastic Football Coach of the Year
Runner-Up State Coach of the Year
Inducted Catawba College Hall of Fame
Jug Wilson Day in Burke County
Inducted WNC Sports Hall of Fame

article by Anna Wilson,
News Editor

Ralph "Jug" Wilson, longtime football coach at Glen Alpine and Freedom high schools, is the latest inductee into the Burke County Sports Hall of Fame. Wilson is the third inductee following golfer Billy Joe Patton of Morganton and professional football player Doug Cline of Valdese. The announcement was made today at the Morganton Rotary Club meeting, sponsor of the Hall of Fame. "I know a lot of Burke County residents have been watching the Hall of Fame closely knowing Jug Wilson would be in there," said Gary Leonhardt, president of the Rotary Club. "I'm glad to see he is our recipient this year."

A banquet in Wilson's honor will be held sometime in May. The date and speakers for the event will be announced later. "It's a very, very big honor," Wilson said this morning. "I'm thrilled to death and I'd like to thank those who nominated me." Wilson is best known in Burke County for his coaching career at Glen Alpine High School where he coached for 24 years. He later coached at Freedom High School for 1-0 years. He came to Glen Alpine in 1949 as coach and teacher where he inherited a losing football program. He took 14 players and compiled a 2-4-2 mark in 1949. His next team went 8-1 and from there a winning tradition was established. He also built up a loyal following.

The school won four state championships, 1961, '62, '63 and '65 and Wilson was named Asheville-Citizen Coach of the Year and Greensboro News & Record Coach of the Year during that time as well as statewide Pepsi Prep Football Coach of the Year in 1965 and 1966. He was instrumental in forming the Skyline Conference, a formidable football conference made up of small schools throughout Western North Carolina. Glen Alpine would win 13 Skyline Conference Championships before the county's eight high schools consolidated into two - Freedom and East Burke. Wilson was named head football coach at Freedom where during his 10-year tenure, his teams won three conference championships.

His 1975 team went 10-0 in the regular season - the only unbeaten football team in the history of either high school - and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. He was named statewide runner up coach of the year in 1976. At various times, Wilson also coached boys and girls basketball, baseball, track and had conference championship teams in all. He was also athletic director at Freedom. He remained at Freedom until he retired after the 1982-83 school year with a 34-year coaching record of 262-102-10. Before his retirement, that record made Wilson the winningest active football coach in North Carolina at the time of his retirement and the fifth winningest coach in the nation. In addition, Wilson has coached in all four N.C. High School Athletic Association classifications from 1A to 4A. He has coached in the Shrine Bowl, the North-South Bow1, the East-West Bowl and the Lion Bowl, where the teams were unbeaten. Prior to his coaching career, Wilson also enjoyed success on the playing field in high school and college. He was a star center of the Hickory High School team in the early 1940s and was recruited by legendary coach Frank Howard at Clemson. However, a broken leg ended his career as a Tiger before it got under way. He was then offered a scholarship to Catawba College where his junior and senior teams won back-to-back Tangerine Bowls in 1948 and 1949. He was team captain in 1949 and was named to the Little All-American team that year. He was inducted into the Catawba College Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.

Wilson's knowledge of thegame, his dedication, his discipline and his caring won the respect of players, other coaches and fans. The Hall of Fame was established in 1993 by the Morganton Rotary Club to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to sports traditions in Burke County. The Hall of Fame display case is located in the lobby of the Collett Street Recreation Center and includes a permanent plaque of each inductee featuring a picture and biography.