July 3, 2010 10:22:00 PM
Tony Stanford hopes to end a trend at Columbus High School.
Stanford was named Friday the school''s head football coach, and he hopes to bring stability to the program.
The 56-year-old Stanford is the seventh coach in school history. He succeeds three consecutive coaches who lasted only two years at the helm of the program.
"My goal is to be at Columbus for as long as they''ll have me," said Stanford, who was the Falcons'' defensive coordinator the past two years. "I want to try and get a program established, and I want to try to stay here and make it one of the strongest programs in the state of Mississippi."
Stanford replaces Bubba Davis, who was 4-18 in two seasons as the coach of the Falcons.
Davis lasted two seasons in Columbus like Daryl Jones and Rusty Funk before him.
Columbus hasn''t had a coach last more than two years since Roy McCrory coached the Falcons from 1997-2003.
McCrory and Pat Davis (1994-96) are the only coaches in school history to coach the Falcons for more than two years.
"I think you need somebody that''s going to stay with the program and try to get it moving in the right direction," Stanford said. "I think you have to have some stability, and that''s what I hope I can bring to the program."
Stanford pursued the job when Bubba Davis resigned June 14. He believes Davis had the program going in the right direction, and he wants to see the hard work the staff put forth the past two years pay dividends.
Stanford believes it will help he has been part of the program for the past two years.
"I know the kids. I know what they can do. I think they know as a staff what we''re going to expect out of them," Stanford said. "We''ve already established a hard work ethic. They understand that and they''re working hard to try to get to the point where we want to be. I think by keeping us together like we are we''re going to get to the point where we want to be year in and year out."
The players also believe the program maintains stability with the promotion of Stanford to head coach.
"I think that will be a good thing," Columbus junior defensive tackle Kenny Averhart said of the decision to promote Stanford. "The players will listen to him. We already know him and we''re used to him. He''s a real good coach. I''m glad to have somebody we know."
Said Columbus senior center Drew Jordan, "I''m glad they promoted one of the other coaches instead of bringing in a whole new system. The players won''t feel like they have to change anything. It will be just like another season."
Stanford will attempt to revive a program that hasn''t had a winning season since 2007 and hasn''t made the playoffs since 2005. Columbus has had only five winning seasons and made the playoffs four times since the consolidation of Caldwell and Lee high schools in 1992.
Stanford returns to the sidelines as a head coach after a two-year absence. Prior to joining Davis'' staff at Columbus, the 30-year coaching veteran was the head coach at Louisville, Philadelphia, Morton, and Choctaw Central.
He coached Louisville to the Class 4A state championship in 1995 after being an assistant on championship teams at Louisville in 1985 and 1993. He has coached nine teams to the playoffs as a head coach.
Stanford was selected the Class 4A, Division 2 Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2000, and he was a head coach in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Classic in 2001.
"We feel like this could be a breakthrough year for our football program," Columbus Athletic Director Rusty Greene said. "Coach Stanford has been with these players the last two seasons and wants to see them be successful. We are proud to have coach Stanford lead our young men. He brings a lot of experience and continuity to our program."
Stanford believes his coaching experience and being on state championship teams in the past will benefit him as the coach of the Falcons.
"If they ever start getting into the playoffs and get excited about it, it''s going to be a thing they want to do each year," Stanford said. "That just makes your job easier when they realize the fun of going up the ladder and trying to win a state championship."
Stanford hopes to go step by step to build Columbus into a state championship contender. He believes he can do it if given time and he can last more than two years as the Falcons'' coach.
1. Player of Week: Davis, Starkville off to fast start HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
2. Bulldogs turn attention to UAB COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Heritage Academy looks to build on first win HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS