ECHS defensive coach calls it quits

Published 6:46 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
Sometimes it's hard to say goodbye.
After 29 years on the job, Escambia County High School defensive coordinator Frankie Bell is stepping down at the end of this school year.
Bell, who came to Atmore in 1976 to join current Escambia County Superintendent Buck Powell's first staff as head coach at the school, had mixed feelings about leaving.
"We've had a lot of good kids here over the years," Bell said. "I'm going to miss the challenge of teaching and coaching every day. No matter how long you teach, you learn something new every year.
"With coaching you don't have a whole lot of time to be a father," Bell continued. "I've still got two in the school here. There's no telling what I missed with the others."
Powell was disappointed to see Bell leave.
"Coach Bell is a super coach," Powell said. "We always got along well and did a good job together. He did a great job as a coach, and he did a great job in the classroom. He meant a lot to Escambia County High School and he will be missed."
One thing Bell has been known for in his time at ECHS has been his stingy defenses.
"The year we won the state championship (1983) we shut out the last three teams we played," Bell said. "The only team to score on us in the playoffs was the first one we faced."
Powell recalled many of Bell's shutouts.
"He is the best defensive coach I've ever been associated with," Powell said. "He ran the 4-3 and the 4-4, which is what I like to run. He pitched a lot of shutouts in his time. I think the year we won the state championship he pitched seven."
Both Bell and Powell had fond memories of the time they spent together.
"We were high school teammates (at Flomaton)," Powell said. "He went off to Mississippi State and did a great job playing there. When I came to coach here he was in Georgia and he was the first coach I hired."
"Coach Powell had been at Century and had won a lot of games there," Bell said. "He called me up and said he was going to Atmore and wanted to know if I wanted to come. Coach (Melvin) Middleton came with us."
Bell then talked about many of his fond memories during his years at ECHS.
"Obviously, there's the state championship year," Bell said. "The next year we were 9-1 and had a pretty good team. One of the main ones I remember is one year – and I can't remember what year – we went to Montgomery and played Sidney Lanier at Cramton Bowl. They were supposed to kill us and we beat them in overtime. It was one of the best games I've ever been associated with."
Bell said his main worry was not knowing what to do with his time.
"I've been coaching for 39 years," he said. "Add to that four years of college and 12 years of grade school, and I've been answering that bell for 55 years. I've never come to school and not coached.
"A lot of people asked me why I never went anywhere else, but when you come to a place, it's your home," Bell continued. "This is still going to be my home. I never found a reason to go anywhere else."

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