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McKenzie gets new head football coach

McKenzie School’s football program is starting over once again this season.

Following the resignation of Scott Curd, who served as the Tigers’ leading man for one season, the Butler County Board of Education approved the hiring of David Kirkland as the school’s new athletic director and head coach.

&uot;We’re glad to have him,&uot; Butler County School Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed said. &uot;We hired him because of his experience, his enthusiasm and after talking to him, his love for the game. I just think he’ll be a good addition to the school.&uot;

Principal Randy Williams is also excited to have Kirkland on staff.

&uot;I like the fact that he’s basically local meaning that he lives within the tri-county region here,&uot; Williams said. &uot;He seems to have made a real good connection with the boys so far. He’s very energetic, he’s been working hard and I just feel like he’s going to be a real good fit for our program. I look for him to be successful.&uot;

The Andalusia native joins McKenzie by way of Straughn High School where he served as a volunteer assistant coach from 1997-2000 before being hired as a defensive coach in 2001. He said having the opportunity to be a head coach is a dream come true.

&uot;I’m just as excited as I can be,&uot; Kirkland said Tuesday morning. &uot;I’m more elated than excited. For years, I’ve dreamed of being a head coach. When I was in graduate school thinking about what I was going to do with my life, I pictured myself in five years being a head coach of a football team. It’s been six years, but here I am.&uot;

Kirkland will teach physical education at McKenzie as well as take on duties on the gridiron. He said the first item on his to-do list is to get more players on the field.

&uot;I want to round up the troops,&uot; Kirkland said. &uot;I think they’re a little bit scattered. I want to win them over. I want them to know that I’m here to stay. My interests are here for the long haul. I know that these guys are looking for somebody’s that’s going to bring consistency. It’s not my intention or my desire to use this place as a springboard as it has been in the past. A lot of coaches are looking for that bigger, more affluent job. It’s my desire to stay right here. I’ve got 22 years before retirement and I told Mr. Williams that if I can stick it out here and be their head coach for 22 more years, that would be awesome to me.&uot;

The Tigers finished last season 0-10 and with only 14 players. The numbers have quickly begun to rise. Kirkland began working unofficially last week and held several workout sessions.

&uot;I’ve sort of started implementing my workout program,&uot; Kirkland said. &uot;We’ve also been doing off-season conditioning, running and stuff like that also.&uot;

Kirkland has seen a steady increase in numbers since he went to work last Monday.

&uot;I had eight players come out on Monday, then Tuesday we had 12 and Wednesday there was 14,&uot; Kirkland said. &uot;Since then, I’ve seen four or five more that I know are coming.&uot;

Kirkland is seeking every means possible to get more players interested once again in McKenzie football. That includes solicitation.

&uot;I’m in the process of calling every male student that’s in school here,&uot; Kirkland said. &uot;I want them to come talk to me and I want to see if I can sell them David Kirkland and get them back into the love of the game that I have for it. Yes I want to win, but not at all cost. I want to win and I want these guys to have fun because they are just young men.&uot;

The Tigers will continue their off-season workout program through Aug. 2 when they will begin two-a-day practices. Kirkland said practices will be a challenge, but one he is up for.

&uot;The learning curve is going to be a lot shorter for me because these guys have been in a different system,&uot; Kirkland said. &uot;If I had been here in the spring, it would be different because they would already know what I’m talking about. Terminology is going to be a big problem because if I ask them to run the slant, they may not know what it is. We’re going to play it by ear.&uot;

Kirkland has a master’s degree in physical education from Troy University as well as a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Auburn.