Search on to replace Heaton

Published 4:18pm Monday, April 30, 2012

For the sixth time in 16 years, Escambia County High School will be put to the test of finding a head coach to lead its football team and athletic director to lead its athletic programs.

Since former head coach Melvin Middleton retired in 1996, five men have held the top athletic post for the Blue Devils, with none serving in the capacity for more than five seasons.

The process to find a replacement for former Escambia County Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Mark Heaton will kick off next week when ECHS Principal Zickeyous Byrd meets with Superintendent Randall Little.

Byrd and Little have scheduled a meeting in Brewton on Monday to discuss the proper procedure to find the next athletic director and head coach for the Blue Devils, Byrd said in a phone interview Thursday morning.

“Monday, Mr. Little and I hope to find the right way towards finding our next head coach,” Byrd said. “We hope to make it a speedy process, so that our football team can get a chance to move into spring practice.”

Qualifications for the position go outside of the success of a coach in his previous stops.

Candidates must also present the right attitude that helps the student-athletes, Byrd said.

“I want someone that can take this team to the next level,” he said. “That person must also show good moral character; have the students’ best future at heart and will aid them as coach Heaton did in giving them the chance to go to college.”

Another question surrounding the coaching search is the status of the current coaching staff and the possibility of new staff being brought to the school.

Finding the best coaches that will aid the new head coach will be a priority, Byrd said.

“Of course, we will do our very best to try and get our next coach a staff in that he will feel comfortable working with,” he said.

Interest has already been shown for the position with Byrd receiving several emails the day after Heaton resigned to become the athletic director and head coach for the Haleyville Lions.

“The morning after coach Heaton took the job with Haleyville, I received around 10 emails expressing interest in the position,” Byrd said.

One possible candidate to have an interest in the position is ECHS alumni and current Dale County Head Football Coach Jeff Torrence, according to an unnamed source. Torrence is the son of Atmore City Councilman Cornell Torrence and was a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 1992 national championship team.

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