Temple leaving Clinton for MC assistant job

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2002

[06/20/02]Sam Temple is staying in Clinton, just changing his work address.

The former Warren Central coach who led Clinton High to the state playoffs last season is leaving the prep ranks to become an assistant coach at Mississippi College.

He will start officially on July 1 and will be teamed with Lee Kuyrkendall, a graduate assistant at Delta State when Temple was a senior catcher.

“Coach always told me no matter where I would have been, he would have looked for me,” Temple said of Kuyrkendall, who led the Choctaws to a 30-14 record in just his third season at the private Baptist College.

When Kuyrkendall arrived at MC, he said he was promised an assistant coach. The school finally relented this year, but before this year, Kuyrkendall had no full-time assistants.

“It’s going to be like having two head coaches,” Kuyrkendall said. “He brings a lot to the table and we feel fortunate of having someone of his caliber here.”

Temple, after leading the Vikings to the 2001 Class 5A state championship, left after that season to resurrect a young Clinton High team.

In one season, Temple guided the Arrows to a 25-8 record and a second-place finish behind WC in Division 3-5A. The Arrows are returning a wealth of talent, but Temple said the move was a no-brainer.

“As many people know, there are not a lot of high school coaches that move up to college baseball,” Temple said. “There’s not a lot of transfer. … I look at this as a honor. Mississippi College made me an offer I couldn’t turn down.”

Temple will concentrate on working with pitchers and catchers, but Kuyrkendall said he will get a chance to do it all. The fiery Temple and the more laid-back Kuyrkendall may resemble the self-proclaimed good cop-bad cop Temple had at Warren Central with assistant Randy Broome.

“Some may say I’m more laid back, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get after it,” Kuyrkendall said.

The Choctaws return 23 players from last year’s team that had more wins than any MC team since 1983. There are no Warren County players on the roster, yet, but Temple said there is strong interest in St. Aloysius outfielder Blake Warnock.

Warnock earned Most Valuable Player honors at the MHSAA-MPSA All-Star Game on Saturday.

“Coach K. is sitting on a small gold mine,” Temple said. “He’s very knowledgeable about the game and knows a lot of people in Mississippi and Florida.

“I think he also has the ability to open some doors for my future. Now, it’s time to get my nose to the grindstone.

“I’ve been privileged to have coached high school baseball in this state the last six years and blessed that I have had some great players. They have been the reason for my success.”

Temple is the third high-profile coach to leave Clinton this season. Football coach David Bradberry and boys basketball coach Joel Boone also left.