TIFTON - Longtime Tift County coach Anthony Bateman died Saturday.

Bateman assisted both the football and basketball teams at the high school, positions he held for more than 20 years. As a basketball assistant, he helped the Blue Devils to all three of their state championships in the sport.

Tift County Schools issued a statement Saturday evening:

"We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our beloved Coach Anthony Bateman. Coach Bateman's place in Tift County is irreplaceable. He has had a tremendous impact on so many people here. Our community mourns together at the passing of such a good man.

"Counselors will be on standby Monday morning as classes start at Tift County High School."

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