16 vie for spot as coach at WC

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Warren Central coaching derby has officially begun.

Sixteen people have applied for the school’s vacant head football coaching job since it was posted statewide on Jan. 11, Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent Dr. James Price said.

Price declined to name the applicants, but said the list includes coaches from Vicksburg, as well as across Mississippi and at least one from Alabama.

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“We’ve had some from high-profile cities. We’ve had them from Tupelo to the Coast. We’ve gotten a good mix of assistants trying to break out a little bit and some older head coaches,” Price said.

The new coach will replace Curtis Brewer, who retired in December after six seasons as head coach and 33 more as an assistant.

One person who did not apply is Robert Morgan. Morgan, who served as WC’s head coach from 1985-2003, said he had no desire to return to that position. He has been a part-time assistant on WC’s staff since he stepped down as head coach.

Coaches on the current Vikings’ staff who could be candidates include defensive coordinator Josh Morgan, longtime offensive coordinator Larry Tyrone, and offensive line coach Buddy Wooten. Tyrone has been at Warren Central for almost 30 years.

The new head coach will be the seventh since Warren Central opened in 1965, and just the fourth since 1971. Before Brewer and Robert Morgan, Lum Wright Sr. held the job from 1971-84. Morgan was an assistant at WC for nearly 20 years, and Brewer for 32, before they were promoted.

Despite that track record, Price said he had no preference on hiring from within vs. hiring an outside candidate.

“My preference is for this committee to pick the best coach,” he said. “What I’m going to charge these interviewers with is finding the best somebody they can find.”

Price added that he hoped a number of WC assistants would apply. Even if they don’t get the job, he said it would prepare them for opportunities later on.

“I encourage all of them to apply, if for no other reason than to go through the interview. We have a tough process. We have eight people throwing questions at them, and they’re not sheets of prepared questions,” Price said.

The process of finding a replacement for Brewer will be a long one. The school district is taking applications until Feb. 11, then will spend another week narrowing the list down to about a dozen finalists. Interviews with an eight-person search committee will take place in early March, and Price said he hopes to have a recommendation for the school board at its monthly meeting on March 25.

Price said the long application process was a result of the timing of Brewer’s retirement. He announced his plans in December, giving the district plenty of lead time before contracts are offered to teachers in the spring.

“We had the time to do it. The timing was right for us. Contracts have not gone out, football season is over and people are mobile right now,” Price said.

Once the finalists are picked, they’ll be interviewed by an eight-person search committee. Price said the only committee member selected so far is WC principal Rodney Smith. The other seven will include teachers, parents and local businesspersons.

“It’ll be a cross-section of the community,” Price said.

Contact Ernest Bowker at ebowker@vicksburgpost.com