Carol City's football team, winners of five state championships and a program that has produced NFL standouts such as Allen Hurns, Ricky Jean-Francois, Kenny Phillips and Santana Moss, endured one of its toughest losses Tuesday afternoon with the passing of longtime beloved assistant coach Andre Stafford.
Stafford, known lovingly at Carol City and in the community as Coach Dre, died following a series of strokes over the past couple weeks another assistant at Carol City said. He was 43.
"Damn coach I’m speechless... you taught us how to go to war and showed us how to be men. A true CHIEF... RIP," Marvin Hill wrote on Stafford's Facebook page.
Stafford played at Carol City under legendary coach Walt Frazier and then coached beside him and those who followed Frazier, who retired in 2007. The Chiefs won state titles when Stafford was on staff in 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2016.
He was serving under current coach Benedick Hyppolite as the associate head coach and was also the school's Dean of Discipline as well as the wrestling and girls' flag football coach. Carol City recently honored Stafford as its Girls' Coach of the Year.
“He’s a true Chief,” said receivers coach Martin Maultsby. “After Coach Frazier, he really was the face of Carol City. The transitions we have had over the last 30 years he’s been on all of those staffs. Each new head coach that came in, he was instrumental in helping them within the community. He knew all the kids at the school. He was just entrenched with the community. It’s going to be a part that can’t just replaced.”
Hyppolite said Stafford is survived by his son, D’Andre Stafford, a standout junior receiver on the team.
> An earlier version of this story erroneously reported Stafford’s fatal stroke happened during an off-season workout Tuesday. Maultsby said Stafford’s initial stroke happened two weeks ago on campus. He had another stroke while recovering at home Saturday and was readmitted to the hospital. He passed away at the hospital Tuesday.