McKenzie football program needs stability

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A huge photograph of McKenzie's 1991 state championship football team hangs inside the school's gymnasium all alone.

It's the only state championship McKenzie has won in any sport in Alabama High School Athletic Association history.

That year a Tiger football team ended Courtland's reign as the Class 1A champion for the past three years.

It was a magical time in south Butler County.

Since then the Tiger football team has come close to repeating that same feat in 1991, but not close enough.

And it seems the magic is gone within the football program.

The door to the McKenzie football fieldhouse has become more like a revolving door with the tremendous turnover of coaches there. Coaches come to McKenzie, and they leave just as quickly as if they had never been there.

Thursday night parents and citizens of the McKenzie community gathered in the school's auditorium to discuss a number of things about their school, but it seems the discussion centered on the football program.

It seems the search for another head football coach is well underway. Timothy Moorer took over in an interim basis when David Kirkland resigned four weeks into last season. And it's unclear whether Moorer is the man for the job next season.

So once again the Tiger football team is looking for a leader.

It was just a few months ago that Butler County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney told the Advocate that consistency was what was desperately needed in Greenville High's football program.

I think the same could certainly be said for McKenzie.

The football program has reached a dangerous crossroad.

The numbers were so far down last year, that I often wondered if McKenzie would be able to field a team and finish the season.

The Tigers did indeed finish each game some how.

While injuries did knock the numbers down last season, the turnover at the head coaching position may be the reason why some players have transferred to other schools. And I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers were down for spring drills.

The constant turnover at head coach is not good for a program no matter how big the school may be. But it is more detrimental to a community school like McKenzie.

In fact it may be an oxymoron to call what McKenzie has a football program.

McKenzie School is the rally point for the citizens of this town. And football season is the time when the community usually comes out for what seems to be one big family reunion.

And those family reunions have grown smaller each passing year.

I would be hopeful for the young men, who have seemingly played under a new coach each year for the past five years, that the board of education hire a coach that is dedicated to reviving this struggling program just as it was toward finding the right coach for the job at Greenville.

There's no question that the young men want to win, but the rebuilding process won't happen overnight.

McKenzie's football program has reached its lowest low. Now it needs someone to pick it up and give it some life.

Football may not be everything to some, but it certainly is a big part of life to small community schools like McKenzie.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. Call him at (334) 382-3111 ext. 122 or e-mail kevin.taylor@greenvilleadvocate.com.