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The final step in dissolving the county-wide football program took place last Monday with the Union County School Board voting to move the junior high program to East Union. This follows a December vote that moved the varsity program, which faced possible 5A classification after the 2012 season, to East Union.
Now with this part of the process out of the way, the focus turns to the logistics of the program growing at EU. It has been written in the past about the facilities that the school has to support football, and while there are still other kinks to work out and finding ways to fund the other things, building a stadium, etc., the biggest concern that faces the board now is staffing.
This past season, head coach Scott Duley had only three assistant coaches on his staff. No program, junior high or high school, can function and be successful under those conditions, so while Duley is excited about the new opportunities at East Union, he continues to stress the importance of growing his staff.
“Given the constraints in hiring personnel, I recommended to the board last week to move the junior high team to East Union,” Duley said.
“While I and so many others felt this could have worked county-wide, the constraints are holding us back. I honestly feel like if we had more coaches this past year at each school, the entire program could have stayed county-wide, but that’s not the case, and I understand the reasons why.”
Duley would like to have six coaches on staff soon; four to work with the varsity program. As of right now, Duley will be joined by Jeremy Smithey, who has worked with the team in the past, along with Drew Dillard, who was recently hired at East Union. For the visions Duley has for the program, more coaches will be needed, and that is one of his primary focuses this offseason.
“Eventually, we want to have the staff to support five different teams,” he explained. “You’ll have the seventh and eighth grade teams along with a freshman squad, junior varsity and the varsity. We know it will take a year or two, but we do not want any kids sitting on the sideline, not able to play. Having all of those teams will allow the kids to have a chance and grow the way you should in a successful football program.”
What Duley does have in control right now are the offseason workouts for his team. Since the end of the season, he’s had his athletes in the weight room and will have a powerlifting team this season. Also crucial to the growth of a young team are spring and summer workouts, things they can now have since the program is based at one school.
“We’ve been in the weight room for about five weeks, training, working on agilities, and we’re excited for the things taking place at East Union,” Duley said.
“We will compete in powerlifting, and we don’t expect to come out and win state, but I have a couple of great lifters right now that I’m excited to have the chance to work with.”
While many may have their opinions on what should or shouldn’t have happened with the county-wide program, I would like to believe that this is a step in the right direction. All of us now have the chance to see what could be a successful football program developing right in front of us, and I couldn’t be more excited.