New West Lincoln coach Justin Sawyer dies overnight

Published 11:41 am Saturday, February 18, 2017


Justin Sawyer, who was hired earlier this month to take over the football program at West Lincoln, died early Saturday from an apparent heart attack.

Lincoln County School District Superintendent Mickey Myers heard about his death Saturday. “Sadly, I received word early this morning that around 6 a.m. today Coach Sawyer died, apparently of a massive heart attack,” Myers said Saturday. “He leaves behind a wife, Kim, and two young daughters. So tragic.”

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Sawyer, 36, was set to take over as the head coach of West Lincoln starting in July after spending three years under Lawrence County head coach Jaymie Palmer as defensive coordinator.

Sawyer died in his sleep at his home in Summit, Palmer said.

“Pray for his wife and two little girls. He was a great Christian man through and through,” Palmer said. “He was a great Christian friend. We’ll all miss him dearly.”

Sawyer had been with Lawrence County for four years and served as the defensive coordinator for three years under Palmer.

Sawyer was an offensive lineman at Ole Miss and took snaps for Eli Manning. He played in 13 games his senior year in 2003 for Ole Miss, making eight starts at center his final year in Oxford.

“He is a good man and a good football coach. He did an outstanding job for us. Hate to lose him, but excited for him to get this opportunity,” Palmer said recently. “He has a good football pedigree and not everyone can say they snapped the ball to Eli Manning.”

Sawyer had big plans for West Lincoln. “I’m looking forward to getting there and getting the job started,” he said. “That’s a program known for its toughness and hopefully I can help continue that.”

West Lincoln principal John Shows was the biggest advocate for the hiring of Sawyer and bringing him to West Lincoln.

“He was a great leader, communicator and even better person,” Shows said. “He would’ve been a great leader and person for our school. We’re thinking about his family. I’m absolutely shocked.”

Justin Sawyer

Justin Sawyer