May 15, 2009
MACON -- Reggie Harris couldn''t pass up this opportunity.
As much as the former Noxubee County High School football player and coach wanted to remain at his alma mater, he felt he was ready to take a chance on becoming a head coach.
It didn''t take long for someone to agree.
Sunflower County School Superintendent Peirce McIntosh hired Harris last month to become the new football coach at Ruleville Central High School.
"We want him to bring stability to the program and we want him to get more kids out," McIntosh said of Harris, who is the school''s third coach in four years. "We are just proud to have him."
Harris, 27, spent the past two seasons as an assistant football coach and the baseball coach at Noxubee County High. He also spent time as an assistant football coach and as the girls track and field at New Hope High.
But while those head coaching positions have been helpful, Harris knows they are different than what he will face as a football coach.
"You have a lot more people to be responsible for and a lot more issues that come up," Harris said. "You manage a little bit larger budget and I think the psychology and mental aspect of it are very similar (to baseball)."
Harris inherits a program that went team was 4-7 and 1-9 in 2007 and ''08 with Michael Williams as coach.
Errick Lakes coached the team to a 3-7 finish in 2006.
The team went 7-4 in 2005 and lost to Okolona in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs.
Ruleville Central, which is between Greenville and Greenwood and is about eight miles from Delta State University, will move from Class 2A to Class 3A for the 2009 season. It will be in Region 3 with Charleston, East Side, Holly Springs, Independence, and MS Palmer.
Harris already has hired several members of his coaching staff. McIntosh said Harris will have the freedom to fill his staff. He also said Harris, who graduated from Mississippi State in 2005 with a degree in secondary education (emphasis in biology), will teach two to three classes a day in the morning and then have the rest of his day to handle athletic responsibilities.
McIntosh first met Harris in 2006 when he was principal at Columbus High. He said Harris was applying for a job and the school unfortunately didn''t secure his services. Still, he discovered in that meeting that Harris was an impressive candidate and someone who could be a valuable addition to a school.
McIntosh was especially impressed with Harris'' plan to bring an intensive weight training program to the school and for getting more kids involved in a junior high program that works with the high school program.
In fact, McIntosh said the school is renovating a locker room to upgrade its weight room facilities to help Harris build a football program.
Harris said the courseload he will have at Ruleville Central, which will include advanced placement biology classes, is appealing, especially considering he is teaching seven periods, including athletics, at Noxubee County High.
Harris, who also played football at MSU, said other concerns about the way the Noxubee County High administration is working with members of the athletic department factored into his decision to leave the school.
"I wanted to stay with coach (M.C.) Miller and everybody else and continue to build a dynasty that we''re developing," said Harris, who helped Noxubee County win the Class 4A state title last season. "As a coaching staff we had it in our minds that we would build a dynasty, and I think it is still possible. Then again I don''t know. If people don''t start stepping up and start supporting the athletic program, especially football, that dynasty probably won''t be built."
Miller said Harris''s work ethic will help him succeed at Ruleville Central. He said Harris will work through a learning curve as he gets all of his resources in place, but he has confidence Harris will transform the program.
"It''s a great opportunity for him," Miller said. "He was doing a great job in everything for us."
Miller said he will miss Harris'' work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and what the mean to his program at Noxubee County. He hopes Harris will learn from the dedication and the sacrifice of the coaches at Noxubee County and take that same approach at Ruleville Central.
"He knows we are a hard-working team here," Miller said. "This coaching staff is real tight. We all can relate to the players and we have a way of getting it out of them. Reggie is going to get it out of them, too."
Harris already has started working with his new team in spring practice. He said it has been challenging working at Noxubee County, driving to Ruleville Central, and returning home to Starkville, but he is ready to devote 100 percent to his new job.
"I am coming in humble and hungry," Harris said. "I realize the good Lord elevates you and coming in I am giving all of the glory to Him. I am going to build a program around the fundamentals of my faith, which is in Jesus, and try to build my program around him. I am going to keep my priorities where they should be and push forward and, hopefully, in the next couple of years the good Lord will elevate my team.
"If we can build those fundamentals and the mental aspect and get those guys to be mentally sound and get them in the weight room, I think we will be all right."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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