OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Ocean Springs High was a sea of blue and gray as the Greyhound nation remembered one of their own.
Hugh Pepper was a legend with a football field is named after him. To many, Coach Pepper was more than just about teaching excellence on the football field.
Ryan Ross is the current head coach at Ocean Springs High. "He was one of those guys who you could go talk to and he would do anything to help you. So he's left a big footprint here in Ocean Springs and I think he'll be here forever," said Ross.
Pepper touched many lives, including the life of assistant principal Jacob Dykes.
Dykes stated, "You have people, leaders in this community just feed off of that leadership that he bestowed on them and they bestowed on us."
The coach drove his players to greatness with a kind touch and caring heart.
One of them is Bubba Jones, "Coach Pepper I'll never forget. Because number one, he was a motivator. He wasn't really big in lifting but he was the kind of person that could get you to run through a wall if you had to," Jones recalled.
Pepper used his leadership skills to teach positive life lessons to the young men on his times.
Vickie Tiblier is the principal. "It was always about being a man. It was being a respectful citizen. It was somebody that he pushed them to be. That's what they took to their jobs as they grew older and took to their families when they had children," Tiliber remembered.
No one doubts that, including former player Mark Worsham. He said, "People looked at him with respect, gratitude. I know all of us that played for him through those years, we've been thankful for that all of our lives, and it has helped us get to where we are today."
Even those too young to play for him understand his impact.
That includes current player Landon Chenevert. "He was kind of a local legend around here. He was very well respected and well-loved and he really set a high standard for coaching in Ocean Springs, really made the program what it is now," said Chenevert.
What that is now are students dressed in honor of a man who was so much more than just a football coach.
During his 29 years at Ocean Springs High, Pepper compiled a record of 189 wins, 81 losses and 3 ties. He was an All-American running back at what is now Southern Miss.
Pepper also played pro baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for six years and served in the military.