ECHS loses two coaches
By By Paul Keane
Escambia County High School lost two long-time coaches when Frankie Bell and Theodore White both resigned their positions at Thursday's meeting of the Escambia County School Board.
Bell had been a member of the football staff for 26 years, having been hired as the defensive coordinator when current Superintendent Melvin "Buck" Powell as the head coach of the Blue Devils. Bell had served as head coach for the past four years, posting an overall record of 9-31, including a 1-9 finish this season.
White had been the head girls basketball coach for 15 years when he suddenly resigned Thursday after only a few games into the 2002-2003 season.
Powell said both resignations were accepted by the Board, and that Andre Hodges – the junior varsity girls basketball coach at ECHS – will serve as interim head coach until the end of the season.
"Coach White's resignation caught me totally by surprise," Powell said. "Coach Hodges will serve as the interim head coach until the end of the season, when we will begin a search for a replacement."
White said he felt it was just time for a change, both for him and the program.
"I've been coaching the girls for a long time," he said. "I just wasn't getting the job done.
"Maybe they need a new spark plug to get things going. I've just decided to hang it up."
Bell, who also coached in Georgia and at Talladega High School before joining the ECHS staff in 1976, said he doesn't have any immediate plans.
"I don't have any plans right now," he said. "I know that I'll be here teaching for a while longer, but I've not decided on anything definite right now.
"I'm going to miss all of it, especially since I've been a part of high school football for 36 years now."
Powell said losing Bell affects him on a personal level, especially since he was the one that brought him to ECHS.
"He's an excellent coach and a great history teacher," Powell said. "I hate that he's giving it up. I was the one that hired him at ECHS, and I've known him a long time."
In 1983, with Powell as the head coach, Bell directed a defense that pitched five shutouts in the regular season and shut three of four opponents out in the playoffs en route to a state championship. Powell said the school district plans to conduct a thorough search for a new head coach.
"We plan to advertise for the position, and we plan to do an extensive search," he said. "That search will naturally be throughout Alabama, but will also include parts of Georgia and Florida. We want someone with head coaching experience that has had success and will help us build a successful program.
"Hopefully, we can get things rolling so that interviews can be conducted, a recommendation made and the Board can vote on it fairly soon. We would like to have someone hired in time for spring football, but much of that will depend on the candidate that is recommended and what type of schedule that person is on and what they are still obligated to do in regards to the school they are at right now."