New ECHS football coach here to build

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, June 22, 2022

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Vincent Harris is here to build.

The new Escambia County head football coach and athletic director said Thursday that the Atmore community and the players have been great.

“The community has been absolutely wonderful,” Harris said, more than a week after being hired. “There’s been a buzz in the air. This is my first full week, and the kids are out and learning and picking up my system. We have a great group of coaches, and we’re hoping to bring in a couple more coaches.

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“It’s an exciting time,” he said.

The first-year head coach comes to ECHS after coaching stints at T.R. Miller, Talladega High School and Pleasant Grove.

Harris, a Bessemer native, began his coaching career at PGHS, where he helped lead the school to its first state championship in school history. While at THS, he spent his first year as offensive coordinator and assistant coach. THS went on to average the most points in school history, and it went on to its first playoff game in school history.

Harris said his coaching philosophy is simple.

“To coach them hard and love them harder,” he said. “We definitely want to instill the right values in the kids, and put them back in the community as better husbands, fathers and employees, and as overall better people.”

Harris got into coaching because of his former coaches at Homewood High School and the University of West Alabama in Bob Newton and Bobby Wallace, respectively. He added that Kelvis White’s influence also attributed to his becoming a coach.

“He (White) really helped give me some direction,” Harris said. “From there, I just wanted to help do the same thing for people coming around me.”

Harris said he learned what sort of impact he has on players shortly after his son, Raylan passed away.

“In 2013, when I first started coaching, and when my son died, I had been at Pleasant Grove for two months and the kids wouldn’t stop calling and texting me,” he recalled. “My wife (Selesia) was like, ‘Why are you being so mean to them? They just want to help us.’ She said, ‘You must have done something right. They just want you to be there, and be here for you.’

“After my son’s funeral, I went back to work,” he said. “I told my wife that I was going to dedicate my career to the baby and the kids (players). You have to keep fighting. No matter what’s against you, you have to fight to the bitter end.”

Harris said he’ll keep the same philosophy while at ECHS, where he plans on staying for quite a while.

“I do this for the love of the children,” he said. “When the kids come in (for workouts), I always make them shake my hand and I tell them I love them. We want to build a program off of love and discipline. I think this group could be special.”

Escambia County hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2010, and Harris said making it back to the postseason is one of the team’s goals.

Harris said he’ll begin meeting with each member of the team soon, and then establish some other goals for the coming season.

“The kids are raising standards, and trying their best getting better every day,” he said, adding that coaches are trying to create an atmosphere where family is over everything.

Harris is married to Selesia, and the couple has three children, Amani, VJ and Kyler.