New era begins for Cougars

Published 9:48 am Thursday, January 19, 2012

Escambia Academy headmaster Betty Warren welcomes new athletic director and head football coach Hugh Fountain Thursday morning.

Escambia Academy went all in to find a new athletic director and head football coach and the outcome is the hiring of a head coach with 24 years of head coaching experience.

Hugh Fountain was introduced as the new leader of the Cougars’ athletic programs with his focus going towards continuing the success of the school’s football program. Fountain announced his retirement from Charles Henderson High School on Tuesday.

In speaking about his decision to take the Escambia Academy job, Fountain said working at the school never crossed his mind until he spoke to headmaster Betty Warren.

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“To be honest, I’ve never thought about it before,” Fountain said. “I spoke to miss Betty and that really got things rolling and after I spoke with her, I thought I have three kids and this would be a great opportunity to get close to home and continue to coach and build a great football program.”

In searching for a head coach, the Escambia Academy board selected a committee and put out the word that the school was in need of a new athletic director and head football coach.

Board chairman Chris Kirk led the committee, which narrowed down the candidates from a pool of more than 40 applicants.

Fountain was seen as the right fit for the school, Kirk said.

“Escambia Academy is extremely excited and proud to announce the hiring of coach Hugh Fountain as athletic director and head football coach,” Kirk said. “Our search committee had a daunting task to find a replacement for Coach Heath Gibson, especially in the middle of the school year. Our committee saw applications from all over the country, which really took us by surprise. We expected it to be difficult to find qualified candidates, but with over 40 resumes received to date, we had a tremendous pool of qualified coaches to choose from. Coach Fountain stood out as a perfect fit for our school, and us for his family. We are both excited about his experience and energy he brings to our school, and athletic programs here at EA. Go Cougars.”

Fountain comes to Escambia Academy with a career record of 159-102 with a resume that includes a 16-years stint at Charles Henderson High School in Troy, seven seasons at W.S. Neal High School in East Brewton and one season at Evergreen High School in Evergreen. At W.S. Neal, Fountain coached former Cougars’ head football coach Heath Gibson.

With his resume Fountain brings years of success with strong success in turning around programs. The season before Fountain took over at Charles Henderson, the Trojans went on 0-10. In Fountain’s first season, the team went 3-7 and followed that up with a 7-3 campaign in his second season.

With the Cougars off of a trip to the AISA semifinals, Fountain inherits a team that has had mixed results in the past.

The knowledge of coaching for 24 years is something that gives Fountain an idea of how to help a program succeed, he said.

“First, I have to be able to encourage kids to come out and play,” he said. “Kids don’t walk in the door every day wanting to play football. It requires a lot of heart and effort. Being from a 5A school like that will help me be able to pull kids into play. It also helps with the experience of the people I’ve coached against. Coaching at Charles Henderson, I coached against the cream of the crop in southeast Alabama. The knowledge of the competition level is something I bring to the table. There is good football in the AISA, but the focus has to be on getting your school’s program going in the right direction.”

As Fountain settles into his job as athletic director and head football coach he will begin to acquaint himself with the school’s coaches and athletes and find out what he has left of a football program that lost several seniors.

With spring training for football a few months away, Fountain will have to take his time on selecting how to best run his football program.
Knowing the pieces he has will determine how his team operates on offense and defense, he said.

“It depends on what we have on the team,” he said. “I can’t come in and say what style of offense and defense we will run until I see what kind of personnel we have. I believe that defense is the most important thing because if they can’t score then you can tie every game. Offensively, it will be based on what personnel we have coming back. I know we will have a returning quarterback in Michael (Thompson), so the personnel we have surrounding him will be the key to what style of offense we have.”

As far as other sports go, Fountain will take the time to see each coach and determine if they are the right fit for the program.

Having the right coaches in place to help the student-athletes achivee their dreams is important in a program succeeding, he said.

“It starts with who the coaches are for the teams,” he said. “I’ve met some of the coaches and they seem like wonderful people. The coaches need to be knowledgeable of the sport and know the right fundamentals of the game. The second thing is to help the kids continue on with their dream of playing at the next level because all of these kids at the high school age want to play at the next level. That takes teaching them proper work habit and work ethic, which comes first. We have to give the kid the vehicle to be able to say I want to play in college. Then everything goes from there.”