Delaware Sports Hall-of-Famer Bill Cole, who distinguished himself as a University of Delaware athlete and William Penn High coach, died Saturday night after a long illness.
He was 91.
Cole was William Penn football coach from 1949-73, guiding the Colonials to a 148-71-10 record. He remained the athletic director at the New Castle high school another 14 years and, during that time, joined the football staff of his successor, Bruce Reynolds, as an assistant coach.
“Bill was so revered in this area,” said Reynolds, who also played for Cole. “We became such great friends and he had such a wonderful impact on my life.”
Cole guided the Blue team to victory in the first Blue-Gold all-star game in 1956 and was state coach of the year after steering William Penn to an unbeaten record and Blue Hen Conference championship in 1962. It was his fourth unbeaten team. Cole also coached the basketball and baseball teams at William Penn.
A graduate of the former P.S. du Pont High in Wilmington, Cole spent his freshman year at the University of Delaware before serving in World War II as a pilot. He returned in 1946 and, as a sophomore, was a standout running back on the Blue Hens’ first small-college national championship team. For a 10-0 team that season, the 5-foot-7, 155-pound Cole set a still-standing UD record when he averaged 12.2 yards per carry.
Cole’s career average of 7.10 yards per carry remains No. 2 all-time at UD and he was the first Blue Hen to surpass 1,000 career rushing yards (1,120). As a senior in 1948, Cole was voted to the Associated Press All-American team.
Cole also starred in basketball and baseball for the Blue Hens. He was a 2004 UD Athletics Hall of Fame inductee.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized yet, his son, Bill, said on Sunday.
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