January 19, 2012 12:30:00 PM
"It's pretty much a done deal."
Those were Barrett Donahoe's words this morning when he was asked if he had officially become the new football coach at Heritage Academy.
Donahoe said he had hoped to keep the news of his decision to leave Marshall Academy in Holly Springs after one season quiet. But word of his move to Columbus had leaked out, which forced him to talk to his players and inform them he was in discussions with Heritage Academy about its opening for a football coach.
Donahoe will be at Heritage Academy on Friday to wrap up all of the details and to make an official announcement, he said. He will meet with the football team and with the school administration, including Headmaster Tommy Gunn, to iron out details.
"My decision has been made," Donahoe said. "I have been in private school coaching for 10 years, and I have always had tremendous respect for Heritage Academy and what they do and the people there. They have always been a class act."
Donahoe replaced Keith Wicker at Marshall Academy, a Class AA school in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools, and guided the program to an 11-2 record this season. Marshall Academy, which also is nicknamed the Patriots, lost to River Oaks (Louisiana) 28-22 in the Class AA North State playoff game.
"We did have a tremendous season," Donahoe said. "We had a tremendous group of guys who really bought into our program and the discipline we provided with that program. We had a lot of support from the parents, the administration and the boosters. It could not have been a smoother year one at a school."
Donahoe will replace Brad Butler, who wasn't retained as coach after three seasons. He led Heritage Academy to a 5-5 season in 2011.
Donahoe, who is from Crystal Springs, graduated from Copiah Academy in Gallman and the University of Mississippi. His coaching resume includes stops at Lee Academy in Arkansas, Jackson Academy, Tri-County in Flora, Copiah Academy and Pillow Academy. He spent three years at Tri-County, including one as football coach. He was an assistant coach at Copiah Academy and Pillow Academy in Greenwood.
Donahoe said his years at Jackson Academy gave him perspective about Heritage Academy and confidence that the program could be competitive and that the opportunity to be the school's football coach was appealing.
Donahoe said it hasn't been decided whether he also will be the school's new athletic director.
Donahoe also said he will discuss the opportunities to bring assistant coaches to the school. Not only did the school choose not to retain Butler, but it also fired Steve Morgan, who worked as offensive coordinator.
"I hope that issue will resolve itself by early next week," Donahoe said.
Donahoe, who teaches American History and World Geography at Marshall Academy, said he will bring an energetic and disciplined approach to Heritage Academy. Nicknamed the "pacer" for his penchant for walking the sidelines throughout football games, Donahoe prides himself on focus and commitment.
"We're going to really focus on being consistent with the kids and being consistent with the discipline and being consistent with the work ethic," Donahoe said. "Doing that we hope we can become a consistent football team on Friday night.
Donahoe said he didn't ask about the circumstances involved with the dismissal of Butler and Morgan as coaches but has tremendous respect for what Butler did at Heritage Academy and the strides he appeared to be making in his three years as the school's head coach. Donahoe will do everything he can to help the program push Butler's wins -- three, four and five, respectively -- even higher and to help it compete for championships.
Gunn couldn't be reached for comment by press time.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
1. Coach Marsh will be remembered COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY