Getting to work

Published 4:35 am Wednesday, February 23, 2005

By Staff
Ted Darby has been called many things. An assistant coach for a state championship team, a record setting quarterback, and a good husband and father. But one thing Darby has never been known as was a head coach, until Thursday night.
The Escambia County School Board voted unanimously to hire Darby as the head football coach for the Escambia County Blue Devils. It will be Darby's first head coaching job, as the Advance incorrectly reported he was head coach at Handley.
"I was an assistant coach there," Darby said. "I had been offensive coordinator at Benjamin Russell but they got rid of the Driver's Education course that I was teaching so I had to look for somewhere else to go and it was Handley."
Darby spent one year at Handley before being hired to lead the Blue Devils.
Darby said he looked forward to getting to work.
"My five most immediate goals are, number one, meet my coaches," Darby said. "Number two is that I'm going to get to know my players. I'll be meeting with them next Tuesday. Number three is we're going to start recruiting and selling the football program. Number four is we're going to get in the weight room and number five is we're going to get in the weight room."
Darby said he expects success, but patience is needed.
"I know the community is hungry for football like we had in the '80s," Darby said. "But you can't build a program overnight. There's no substitute for hard work and we have to work hard. If we get some players that are willing to work, the winning will come, but the kids are going to have to learn how to be winners and do things the right way."
Darby also said that the main thing that drew him to the Atmore job was one word: opportunity.
"I saw it as a tremendous challenge," Darby said. "We have a lot of potential and a lot of good kids, but its going to take a tremendous work ethic. Its easy to say we want to be 10-0 right now, but I won't say that. I don't like to give anyone anything to put on their clipboard."
Darby said that spring practice was still up in the air.
"I don't know when we'll be having it," Darby said. "I can tell you we won't be having a spring game. We've got too much still to put in."
Darby has already resigned from his position at Handley High School and is now in Escambia County.
"I'm already here," Darby said. "My wife teaches up there also and she and the kids won't be coming down until June. I've done a lot in football, but nothing is more important to me than my wife and kids."
Darby then talked about the highlights of his career in football.
"My biggest memory in coaching is winning the state championship (in 2001 with Benjamin Russell)," Darby said. "A lot of coaches have spent a lot of years in football and never gotten one. But one thing a lot of people don't realize is the blood and sweat that goes behind that ring.
"Another highlight was some of the records I broke while playing quarterback at Samford," Darby continued. "Making the playoffs while I was playing at Oxford was fun. We also had the first winning season in Division 1-AA for Samford while I was there. But the biggest highlight of my college days was meeting my wife."
Darby also carries with him many of the lessons he learned from his college coach, Terry Bowden (who later coached at Auburn University), as well as Bowden's family.
"The knowledge I received from coach Bowden has helped me along the way," Darby said. "I also coached at the first Bowden Academy in 1987 in Coco Beach, Fla. Sitting in the room with Bobby Bowden (head coach at Florida State University), Terry Bowden, Jeff Bowden (then an assistant at Samford, currently offensive coordinator at Florida State), and Tommy Bowden (then an assistant at Auburn University, currently head coach at Clemson University) was something I'll never forget."
Darby also said that he would only have one priority, his team.
"I'm not worried about any opponents," Darby said. "I'm worried about Escambia County High School. We're going to be a class program. Losing is the worst thing to me, but if someone beats you fair and square, you shake his hand and tell him he did a good job. You're never going to always be a winner, but if you don't do things the right way you will always be a loser."
Darby concluded by saying he wasn't only concerned with his players' performance on the football field.
"You're teaching more than football," Darby said. "Football is a game of life. When you get hit, are you going to get back up or lay down? I want to build good fathers, good husbands, good employees, and responsible adults. When you coach someone, you're his coach for life."

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