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franklin county times

Red Bay finds new head coach

RED BAY — For the second time since long-time head coach Dale Jeffreys left after last school year, Red Bay High School has announced it has a new head football coach.

Jamie Easley of South Panola, Miss., was the new head coach, but he decided to go back home to Mississippi after his wife was unable to find a teaching job at Red Bay.

“That was his decision,” Red Bay Principal Kenny Sparks said.

“Nothing against him, I think it was just about money, is what he told me.

His wife needed a job and I think she had one in Red Bay, but from my understanding he wanted her to have a teaching job, which is something we couldn’t get out at that particular point in time.

But that was his decision, and he felt like he needed to go back.”

It did not take very long after Easley announced his intention to leave that Red Bay was yet again flooded with applications from coaches who wanted the post.

Given the coaching carousel that hit Franklin County after the 2011 school year ended, it’s no surprise that the Franklin County School Board already had experience in finding new coaches this summer.

“We posted the job and took some applications and resumes,” Superintendent Gary Williams said.

“We found an outstanding young man in Coach John Ritter.

He has roots in Lauderdale County; his dad was the head coach there for several years.”

Ritter comes from Mortimer Jordan High School in Kimberly, Ala., just outside of Birmingham. Ritter also spent time as a coach at Muscle Shoals High School.

“We had a lot of people contact us, but as far as settling on someone it took us a few days,” Sparks said. “He just kind of rose to the top.”

Coach Easley decided to resign as head football coach a around one month before the official start of the 2012 season, making it imperative that Red Bay find a replacement in a short amount of time.

“In our mind we had a time limit that we were going to find a new head coach within,” Sparks said.

“We had several, several applicants. We were flooded by a lot of good coaches.

We wanted someone with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, and I believe Coach Ritter is that guy. He is very knowledgeable about the game because he’s been around it all his life.

He is someone who is going to bring a lot of energy and knowledge to this game and is going to do well.

I feel like he is one of the young up-and-coming coaches in this area.”

“We thought that when it happened it would put us in a bad bind,” Williams said.

“Then here came Coach Ritter, and after he applied we felt good about the transition from that coach to this one.

I don’t think we’re going to lose a beat. I believe he’s going to get it done and we’ll be OK.”

Aside from the obvious benefit of having the position filled, the football players at Red Bay now have the added benefit of not having to worry about who will lead them in the upcoming 2012 season.

“When we heard Coach Easley was leaving we wanted to get somebody in there as soon as possible, and we did,” Williams said.

“I think the players and students were kind of anxious at first about us finding them a new coach, but it didn’t take long to get one in place.

We called him one morning to see if he would accept the job and he was there that evening. They weren’t without a coach for very long.”

Although the school board has now had to find someone to feel this role twice, the hiring of Coach Ritter to fill the spot has been seen as a good acquisition.

“We’re fortunate to get him here,” Williams said. “He’s already started working.

He’s being accepted well and I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. We believe that he’ll do an excellent job.”

With the summer wrapping up and the 2012 football season looming ever closer, Coach Ritter will not have to wait long to prove that he was the right choice for the job.