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When Mark Peach returned home to Anderson County in December of 2004, his main desire was to restore Bearcat football to a place among the state's best programs.
There is little doubt Peach has done so in his nine years as Anderson head coach with two district titles, a regional crown and a state runner-up finish.
Friday's win over West Jessamine added one more line to Peach's resume. He's now tied for the most wins by any coach in Anderson history at 69.
And, in an ironic twist of fate, Peach is tied with Anthony Hatchell, who took over at Anderson in 1988, Peach's senior year in high school, and led the program for 10 years.
Peach is 69-32 in nine seasons while Hatchell was 69-37 during his tenure.
“Coach Hatchell, I have a tremendous amount of respect for,” Peach said Friday. “He had a wonderful run here and certainly made great contributions to our program.”
Hatchell left Anderson for Graves County and later coached at Caldwell County. He eventually became principal at Mayfield High School and was the first principal at Collins High in Shelbyville. Hatchell is now retired.
Peach will become the winningest coach in Anderson history with his next victory. He went 1-9 his first season, but has had a winning team each year since. He was the Class 5A Coach of the Year in 2007, when the Bearcats won their first 11 games before losing in the second round of the playoffs.
While in high school, Peach played for legendary coach Sam Harp before Hatchell took over. He also played basketball for Coach Glen Drury.
Peach went on to play football at Campbellsville University and served as an assistant coach at Adair County and Franklin-Simpson before getting his chance to be a head coach at Hancock County.
At Hancock, Peach led the Hornets to the state championship game. He also coached at Paul L. Dunbar in Lexington and had a two-year stint as head coach at Campbellsville University – he was 15-7 and had the Tigers in the NAIA playoffs – before returning to Anderson County.
He says each of those stops have been important in his development as a coach. “You take certain things from different people along the way,” Peach said. “I take certain things from a lot of different coaches, whether it is football, basketball, baseball or anything. I have had some great people I have had the opportunity to play for and work for.”
And Peach says his success in his hometown is not a one-man show.
“I am very, very thankful,” Peach said. “I have had a tremendous amount of help the nine years that I have been here. I am very grateful. It all starts with the people that brought me back. I am grateful for the people I have worked for.
“We have had good people at the middle school level and the freshman and JV level. It has been a wonderful group of people that have helped me through this process.”
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