Well-Known Mooresville Football Coach Remembered
A processional will be held in downtown Mooresville tomorrow afternoon to remember a well-known football coach who died last week. Joe Popp's career spanned the high school, college, and professional levels. Even long after Joe Popp retired, you could find him at the Mooresville high football field on Fridays just before game time, talking shop. "We talked about old players and old coaches and teams we played," says Mike Carter, Mooresville's football coach in the 90s. He says Popp - who lived next door to the school - would often watch practices and offer advice on upcoming games. Popp arrived at Mooresville high school in the late 50s and led the team to its first western state championship 1961. He later went on to several college coaching jobs with, among others, UNC Chapel Hill and Georgia Tech. He returned to Mooresville high school for a few seasons and then eventually wound up as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns in the early 90s. But Popp is best remembered for his years in Mooresville. "He was just a well-liked guy here," says Carter. "And if you run into some of the old players who played for him, you knew they held him in high regard." The football stadium at Mooresville High School is named in Popp's honor, and he also has a scholarship named for him at Catawba College. Popp leaves behind three children - one of whom, son Joey - hosts Weekend Edition on WFAE. Joe Popp died in his sleep at home last Thursday. He was 82. The processional honoring Popp starts at 12:45 in downtown Mooresville.