So here we are, 20 days until August drills begin, and the football coaching carousel is still slowly turning, but with a creaking sound. Okolona finally got a new coach in place, Marty Warren. Thrasher, however, lost its new hire; Jeff Boren backed out of the job.
The longer it takes, the harder it’s going to be for Thrasher to find a quality coach. Most guys aren’t looking for a job in mid-July. As for Okolona, Warren will be hard-pressed to make this into a playoff team on such short notice, especially playing in Division 1-1A.
This has me wondering which new coach has the best chance to succeed. Based solely on the teams themselves, I’d go with Justin Hollis of Vardaman. He’s a first-time head coach, but the Rams are always strong and have plenty of returning talent from last year’s 8-4 squad. The man he replaced, Mark Bray, is now at South Pontotoc and is the most proven of the new hires. But South Pontotoc was 1-9 last year, and simply making the playoffs is a big deal for the Cougars (they’ve never won a playoff game).
The most highly touted new coach is New Albany’s Ron Price, who was already on staff as an assistant to Bubba Davis (now at Columbus). He was hired in January and has had plenty of time to establish himself with players. I say he’s the most highly touted because of all the good things I’ve heard about him from different people.
Among the private schools, Tupelo Christian is in good shape with Aubrey Boren (no relation to Jeff). The Eagles will have their first senior class this year and should improve upon last year’s 5-6 mark.
Most of the area’s eight new coaches are taking over programs in need of a boost. Will one of them be able to pull off the kind of turnaround that Chris Duncan did at Aberdeen last season? If anyone can, it’d be Bray.
I’m afraid that for Thrasher, it’ll be another tough year, no matter who’s coach.
Here’s the rundown on the new hires:
• Aubrey Boren, Tupelo Christian
• Mark Bray, South Pontotoc
• Jack Clark, Nettleton
• Leroy Gregg, Oak Hill Aca.
• Justin Hollis, Vardaman
• Ron Price, New Albany
• Brian Sims, Starkville Aca.
• Marty Warren, Okolona