It’s been a while since I've  written a column, and I couldn’t think of a more important reason than the loss of a St. Tammany sports icon .

Jack Salter, football coach at Covington High School for 34 years and the namesake of the football stadium , died Dec. 16.

For someone who was born and raised in this district (Slidell High, Class of 1999), I grew up knowing about Covington High and Coach Salter. The “Cow Palace” was one scary place to play, and when the CHS logo was lit in fire, I’ll admit it had the exact effect on me that the Covington program probably wanted it to have.

As I grew older, I started to see the bigger picture of how important Salter was. Covington High football was one of the premier programs in the parish and all of Class 5A. (It is again under the leadership of his grandson, Greg Salter.)

After some time away from the north shore, I moved back to Slidell in 2014 and was thrilled when I got the chance to start covering the prep sports scene again.

But I can remember being at Jack Salter Stadium for an early season 2015 Lions game. I was walking around the field and heard, “Hey, are you that David Folse guy?” I turned and there was Coach Jack. My first reaction was, "how the heck did Jack Salter know who I was?" So I went over and started talking to him.

The first thing he told me was how much he  appreciated the coverage I was giving local sports teams in all the sports. I was floored.

After struggling to put together a response -- hopefully I at least babbled a thank you -- we got to talking. I picked his brain about football for 15 minutes. It was fantastic.

From that point on, until he was unable to attend as many high school football games as he wanted, whenever I was in his stadium, I would always go shake his hand and talk some football.

What a man, what a legend. He will definitely be missed.

God speed, Coach Jack, I’m sure you are breaking down some film with the man upstairs and putting together one heck of a football team in heaven.

Follow David Folse II on Twitter, @davidfolse.