Wright hands off PCA job to Mims

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2000

As the smoke from Jim Sizemore’s bombshell resignation began to clear at Porters Chapel Academy Monday afternoon, the Eagles found themselves preparing for the second half of the season with a new coach and a new outlook, but without one of their best players.

Bubba Mims, 43, PCA’s third- through sixth-grade coach, was named the school’s head coach on Monday. He replaces Sizemore, who resigned without warning Friday morning.

“I was asked, basically, to take over,” said Mims, a former Ole Miss football player and graduate assistant coach. This will be his first high school head coaching job. “I’ve been involved in coaching my whole life and graduated with a degree in coaching … They thought it would be a good move.”

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Assistant coach Randy Wright coached the team in a 41-28 loss to Briarfield Friday night, but said he wanted to remain as an assistant. Wright gave Mims his blessing.

“I’m a baseball man, and I want my main focus to be on baseball. I feel like Bubba is more qualified than I am to coach the team,” said Wright, who is PCA’s baseball coach. “I’m sure I could do a good job with (football), but I feel it would be taking away from baseball if I were to take on the head football coaching position.”

PCA headmaster Gwen Reiber praised Wright and the rest of the PCA assistants for their efforts on Friday.

“The coaches did a great job of handling the crisis. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the job they did,” Reiber said.

PCA players, speaking publicly for the first time since Sizemore’s announcement, supported the move.

“I hate that Coach Sizemore is gone, but I’m glad somebody stepped up quick enough to where it didn’t kill us in the long run,” senior wide receiver Allen Pugh said. “I’m glad Bubba stepped up, and I think everybody on the football team is really thankful for that.”

While Mims is coming, senior tight end Clayton Hensley is going.

Hensley, the team’s leading receiver with five catches for 89 yards and one touchdown, turned in his equipment on Monday. He said a knee injury and a lack of desire have made him “almost 100 percent” sure that he’s given up the game for good.

“I have a Grade-A torn MCL, and I just didn’t want to chance blowing my knee out,” Hensley said, adding he wanted to be ready for baseball season.

Hensley said Sizemore’s resignation influenced his decision, but the injury was the main factor.

“… I just felt like I didn’t want to play football without Coach Sizemore around. It’s really a lack of want-to,” Hensley said. “I cared a lot for him … He kept me going.”

The team went through a spirited three-hour practice on Monday and the shock of the situation appeared to finally be wearing off. On Friday, however, the weight of the announcement hit the team like a freight train and lingered through the weekend.

“He said there would be a short meeting after the pep rally and y’all won’t even miss any of your break,” junior lineman Nathan Fowler said.

“My heart stopped when I found out,” sophomore receiver Andrew Embry said.

“Pretty much everybody who knew the man was crying. Even some of the teachers out here were crying,” senior lineman J.C. Gullett said.

“I thought it was bad timing. I didn’t feel abandoned, because I can understand why he did it and I would have probably done the same thing in his situation. But I felt it was rather bad timing,” Gullett said.

Sizemore turned in his letter of resignation around 10:30 a.m. Friday, just nine hours before kickoff at Briarfield.

For Friday’s game, the team replaced the “Eagles” sticker on their helmets with athletic tape that said: “Sizemore.”

“If anything, we wanted to win strictly for him. Then we realized we needed to win for ourselves just as much,” Pugh said.

The Eagles came up short, but it took a five-touchdown, 200-yard performance by Briarfield’s Tony Howard to beat them.

“Just going over there was a win for us,” Pugh said.

After the first practice of the post-Sizemore era, players said there was a noticeable difference – and it wasn’t just the absence of the man in the straw hat.

“I didn’t really notice it during the game because I don’t concentrate on the sideline that much, and I don’t go to the sideline that much. The first time I really noticed it being different was today. It felt like we’re starting over,” Gullett said.

Embry said getting back into the flow of things helped.

“Friday and Saturday was really the shock. I think it took today for everybody to realize we’ve got to move on,” Embry said.

Now, as the team heads into the second half of the season with one of the toughest stretches in some time — after this week’s game with 1-4 Pine Hills, PCA’s next three opponents are a combined 10-3 — the Eagles (2-3) say dealing with the difficult situation has brought them closer together.

“It helps the team out more. I hate to say that, but it probably helped us out and pulled us together,” Pugh said. ” … (B)eforehand, we’d fight in the huddle. I don’t think we fought for the first time Friday night. We had to lift each other up, and we tried to be there for each other because it was obvious the coach was gone and we had to depend on each other.”