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AHSFHS Article Series

   The best of the best in Alabama High   
  School Football over the past 100 seasons.

2023 Football Coaching Changes

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New Hires: Four
Best Hire: Shane McComb, Oak Mountain
Hardest to Replace: Laron White, Sparkman
Best Job: Oak Mountain
Toughest Job: Albertville

Most Interesting
: Shane McComb moved 2,000 miles to take the head coaching job at Oak Mountain. His teams at Palm Desert High in California won six straight district championships and were 33-2 in its past 35 district games. He brings a 53-20 record to his second head coaching job, with seven of the losses coming in his first season. He joins arguably one of the toughest regions in the entire country.
 2023 Coaching Changes 

   Only four new head coaches will rule the sidelines this fall in 7A. For two, Albertville and Sparkman, it will their first head coaching job.

 Team  2022 Season  2023 Season

Albertville (1-9)Chip EnglishBert Browne
Oak Mountain (3-7)Tyler CraneShane McComb
Smiths Station (1-9)Mike GlissonBryant Garrison
Sparkman (5-5)Laron WhiteRonnie Watson

 Most Victories 
   The most successful coach in 7A and one of the best coaches in any classification is Mark Freeman at Thompson. His teams have won 247 games under his direction including ten state championships at Bessemer Academy, Spanish Fort and the last four at Thompson.

Mark Freeman Thompson 247 55
Keith Etheredge Auburn 172 57
Josh Floyd Hewitt-Trussville 172 60
Tim Carter Fairhope 152 85
Ben Blackmon Enterprise 137 56
Adam Winegarden Tuscaloosa County 126 50
Jed Kennedy Dothan High 123 51
Wade Waldrop Hoover 111 77
Patrick Nix Central Phenix City 97 31
Jeremy Perkins Austin 90 57
Kelvis White Bob Jones 77 48

 Most Playoff Victories 
   No surprise here as Coach Freeman also sits atop the Class 7A playoff win total list. His 54 victories rank fifth among active head football coaches in Alabama. One crazy stat is that all the head football coaches in region four have won a total of nine playoff games and eight of those victories are by Jeremy Perkins at Austin.

Mark Freeman Thompson 54 11
Keith Etheredge Auburn 45 14
Ben Blackmon Enterprise 22 12
Patrick Nix Central Phenix City 22 8
Tim Carter Fairhope 14 16
Adam Winegarden Tuscaloosa County 14 11
Jeremy Perkins Austin 8 9
Deric Scott Foley 8 6
Todd Cassity Chelsea 7 8
   * only in-state wins counted

 Longest Tenure at Current School 
   The longest tenured coach at their current school in 7A is surprisingly Jeremy Perkins at Austin who is beginning his fourteenth season with the program. His teams at Austin have finished 90-57 and have gone 8-9 in the playoffs. They also won region championships in 2016, 2017, 2020 and 2022.

   The average tenure of all 7A head coaches is just 4.1 years. That is the lowest of any classification except the 3.9 years in 6A.

 14 - Jeremy Perkins, Austin
 10 - Josh Floyd, Hewitt-Trussville
 9 - Tim Carter, Fairhope
 9 - Mark Freeman, Thompson
 8 - Kenny King, Daphne
 7 - Mark Fleetwood, Huntsville
 6 - Erik Speakman, Opelika

 Coaching Turnover 2000-2023 
   The lack of success in most football programs often leads to a change in the head coach. These schools have had the most head coaching changes over the past 24 years. There are a few notable schools here that are not considered losing programs in Enterprise, Florence and Spain Park.

10 Albertville  
9 Alma Bryant  
8 Grissom  
8 Mary Montgomery  
8 Smiths Station  
7 Baker  
7 Enterprise  
7 Florence  
7 Lee Montgomery  
7 Spain Park  

Editorial comments:

          I wholeheartedly believe that coaches should not be judged on wins and losses. While winning football games is important, other factors must be taken into consideration when determining whether a head coach has been successful.

          If posted a list of the best coaches in the state it would not be based solely on how many games they have won. Therefore I personally will never put out a list of who I believe to be the best coaches in Alabama simply because most fans would not understand or accept the criteria. There are head football coaches I consider to be among the absolute best in Alabama who do not have outstanding won/loss records. On the flip side, there are a few programs where many coaches would find success and pile up the wins over the years.

          Some coaches choose very difficult places to begin a career, never can get their footing and end up leaving a tough situation when in reality they would have been successful in the right position with a better program. The best head football coaches are those who have taken a down trodden program and turned it into one respected and competitive. It may be they only won six to eight games most seasons but the overall program was in much better shape a few years after they arrived.

          Success as a head coach depends on so many more factors than just players and coaching style. School administration, the backing of the community, financial support and so many other factors must be considered before a program can move forward.

          A few coaches have stood out the past few seasons as they arrived at a new school and literally changed the culture and attitude of the football programs. In 7A watch what Jed Kennedy at Dothan and Zach Golson at MGM are doing to turn around their respective football programs.

         The lists we do publish are just for informational purposes and not to demean or diminish the accomplishments of any coach. I applaud each and every coach who takes the sidelines this fall. I know why you are there. It is for the love of the game and the young men you coach.

David Parker

Great Moments in Alabama High School Football History

The first football game played by a high school team in Alabama was in 1892 when Central Birmingham (Phillips) lost to Alabama 56-0 on November 11.