Breakup: Longtime Burton football coach Jimbo Adams dies aged 62 | Sports
NORTON — JI Burton’s most successful football manager in history died on Monday.
After battling several health issues over the past few years, James “Jimbo” Adams passed away on Monday afternoon, family members have confirmed. He was 62 years old.
Adams served as Burton’s head football coach for 21 seasons, his last coming in 2019 when the Raiders finished 9-3.
A mainstay of the Norton School for more than four decades, Adams also coached Burton’s baseball team for eight seasons.
He graduated from Burton in 1979, where he played football.
Adams served as an assistant coach in the football program for 18 years before becoming head coach.
After dismal seasons his first three years, Adams then took the Raiders to the playoffs for 18 consecutive seasons.
His teams amassed a 175-81 record during his head coaching career, making five trips to the state championship game and winning six regional titles and six district championships.
For most of his coaching career, Adams managed Burton in the ever-struggling Lonesome Pine District, which fell victim to consolidation and disbanded in the summer of 2012.
“Jimbo Adams made JI Burton a real factor in the LPD,” said former VHSL Hall of Famer Phil Robbins, who coached against Adams for many years at Powell Valley. “He installed an attack and a defense adapted to his players for a T.”
Competing in the LPD was particularly difficult for Burton’s coaches as some of the member schools were twice as large or larger.
“But he held on,” Burton’s retired basketball coach Stan Wilson, a longtime colleague and friend of Adams, said Monday. “His teams have always been competitive and won more than their fair share against those teams.”
Wilson said Adams was a hard-working coach and always looking for ways to improve the program.
“The success of the program rests strictly on how hard it worked,” Wilson said.
Part of that hard work was Adams’ meticulous planning.
“At all times, practice or game, we knew where we were supposed to be and when we were supposed to be there,” said Ray Thacker, a longtime assistant coach under Adams as well as a lifelong friend. “He was a person on the schedule. He had a plan for everything and he expected everyone to follow it.
“I think that was one of the reasons he was such a successful coach.”
Thacker said the main reason for Adams’ success, however, comes down to one word: discipline.
“He demanded discipline,” said Thacker, who was on Adams’ staff from 2002 to 2019. “His main thing was discipline and he treated all kids the same. It didn’t matter if you were a player. stud or a second or third string player, he treated everyone the same and he disciplined everyone the same.
Thacker said Adams was a father figure to players who went through the program.
“I saw a lot of kids coming in the wrong direction and he made sure they turned around and headed in the right direction,” Thacker said. “I still see some of those guys now, long after they’ve played, and they’re still going in the right direction.”
That’s Adams’ legacy, Thacker said.
“He was one of a kind. He will be missed,” Thacker said.