Living Legends: Dudley Hilton brings pride to Log Mountain

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PINEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - "We've been good every year he's been here," Glenn Peace said, a 1955 graduate of Bell County High School.

"With football, he's meant everything," added Carson Arnett, a 1956 graduate of Bell County.

Three state championships, second in wins all time, KHSAA Hall of Famer.

"He's a winner everywhere he goes, so you have to respect that," Rick Nelson said, the voice of Bell County football for WRIL in 1991.

Dudley Hilton's coaching resume speaks for itself, but it all started from humble beginnings.

"My mother tried to raise five kids, and she'd done the best she could," Hilton said about his upbringing. "So everything that came to me, came to me hard."

Hilton grew up in Springfield, KY, and went to Washington County High School.

"If you had a hard time growing up, then you feel for kids," Hilton continued.

The 27-year old Hilton used those hard times as inspiration when he picked up the whistle.

"When I got the opportunity to coach, it meant something to me. I want them to be appreciative of what they got," Hilton said. "To give you an opportunity to - you're never going to have anything if you don't work hard at it."

The hard work reflected in what Hilton did at every program he touched. He won a state title at Bourbon County in 1997, and improved football programs at the University of Pikeville and Taylor County. But none meant more to an area than Bell County.

"He's good for the whole school, you know? Students and everybody," Arnett said.

Hilton made his way to Log Mountain in 1983 after eight years at Breathitt County.

"Well you know when I came here many, many years ago, Bell County was the lowest football team probably in the mountains," Hilton said.

The Bobcats had a couple of tough losses in the playoffs in Hilton's first couple seasons.

"We always were stymied by Covington Catholic and Ft. Thomas Highlands," Nelson said.

Hilton finally got the Bobcats to the top of the mountain in 1991.

"Everybody you know had the name except Bell County. For Bell County to win a state championship, it was just something to behold," Hilton said about the Bobcats first state championship.

The win meant everything to Bell County.

"I remember coming back in Bell County and cars backed up waiting on us," Peace said.

"They took them all the way into the gym for a tremendous pep rally," Nelson added.

The title gave the county school something to believe in.

"We finally had something in this county itself that we could hang our hat on and everybody be proud of," Hilton said.

Bell County has been, and will always be home for Hilton. It's the place that he brought another state championship to in 2008, and a place that meant more than just winning championships, but brought pride to Log Mountain.

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