Tift County Schools

JIM CLAYTON TO RETIRE AS VOICE OF THE BLUE DEVILS

“Mr. Jim has been a crucial part of our program for so long,” said Rusty Smith, Tift County Schools Athletic Director. “We hate knowing we won’t be hearing his voice over the loud speaker on Friday nights, but we also know he’s earned a break to just enjoy the sport.” Clayton has been there through coaching changes, field changes and rule changes and has announced many pairs of fathers and sons through his four decades.

His familiar “Here Come the Devils!” that accompanied the team taking the field has been heard for years and let the home fans know that it’s time to get serious on Friday nights. And to think, it all started over a bacon biscuit. “I had just moved to Tifton to open JJ’s (a longtime men’s clothing store),” Clayton said. “I was at Rose’s eating a bacon biscuit when Bill Sides from WWGS came up to me and said he was tired of doing it. I guess he knew that I had done it for five years when I was teaching in Live Oak and he said I could have it if I wanted it. I thought I’d like it so I started that year with Wilber Lofton as the coach.”

He’s been there ever since. Through the years, he’s done more than 200 home games and seen some great games and great players, always passing onto the crowd pertinent information without overdoing it. That’s the fine line that P.A. announcers have to find and Clayton said he abides by one general rule of thumb. “I think the key is that less is usually better,” he said. “The fans are watching the same game you are and they see what you saw. You just want to tell them in a way that confirms what they’ve seen. Just tell them what matters, that it’s third and nine or whatever. You don’t have to do a play by play.”

After a long and successful run with JJ’s, Clayton returned to the classroom to teach math at Matt Wilson School and he served for several years as the tennis coach at Tift County High. He still works with the school system as the Energy Educator.

The Blue Devils will kick-off Friday night against Westover at 8 p.m. at Brodie Field.