July 7, 2010 10:59:00 AM
Morgan Mansfield came to Lowndes County with the hope of building programs.
After two years of moving in the right direction, Mansfield couldn''t pass up what he believes is a better opportunity to do the same kind of work.
Last week, Mansfield resigned as boys soccer coach at Caledonia High School to take the same position at Center Hill High School.
Mansfield also will work as the head freshman football coach and as the coach of the boys and girls middle school soccer programs at Center Hill.
"I kind of went back and forth about leaving because I knew I was leaving a good group of kids," Mansfield said of this season''s Caledonia boys soccer team, which is expected to be a senior-laden group. "But, in the end, I had to look at the opportunity. I was getting a promotion to head ninth-grade football coach and I was going to be at the middle school to help them build a (soccer) team."
Mansfield submitted his resignation June 29. He said he planned to teach world history and senior government at Horn Lake High School. He said his wife also has secured a teaching job in the area, which makes the situation even more appealing.
Mansfield, who spent three years as soccer coach at Horn Lake before going to Caledonia, guided the Confederates to the playoffs in both of his seasons at the school. In 2008-09, he led Caledonia to the Class 4A North Half title game. This past season, the Confederates went 11-5 and lost in the first round.
As for soccer, Mansfield is excited about the opportunity to build at Center Hill, which won 16 games and lost to West Lauderdale in the Class 4A North Half playoffs this past season. He said many of the players in the program play Select ball in the Memphis, Tenn., area. He said that fact and that Center Hill plays many of its games against schools in larger classifications have helped the program make significant strides in a limited time.
Mansfield helped Caledonia make similar progress in his first season. Led by high-scoring forward Taylor Chisolm, the Confederates had a school-best 14-5 season, advancing to the North Half title game for the first time before falling to eventual state champion Pearl, 6-1.
"I don''t know if I ever will have a first year like I did at Caledonia," Mansfield said. "It was a pretty magical season. It all depends on (what kind of attitude) the kids have (this season) when they come in."
Caledonia athletic director Jason Forrester praised the work of Mansfield, who also served as head middle school football and varsity assistant football coach. He said Mansfield helped prepare future classes of football players and elevate the level of play of the boys soccer program.
"He did a really good job while he was here," said Forrester, the former boys soccer coach and the current girls soccer coach. "He knew the ins and outs and how to carry them further, and each day in practice they got better. He made the boys program just that much better. I think he did a real good job with all he did when he was here."
Forrester said the school will try "as soon as possible" to find a replacement for Mansfield. He said he would take over the program again "as a last resort." If that happened, it would make Forrester the head coach of two varsity sports at Caledonia again. Last school year, he also served as the head coach for the boys track and field team. He relinquished that position at the end of the school year to have more time to focus on his duties as athletic director. Forrester said the possibility of coaching the boys soccer program wouldn''t present the same challenge because he already would be at matches with the girls soccer team.
Mansfield is proud of his work in both programs, and said he is excited about helping Center Hill build more tradition in football and soccer.
"I think the (boys soccer) program (at Caledonia) is in good shape, and this year they can go as far as they want to go," Mansfield said. "That group right there is pretty talented. I feel I left on a good situation. They said they will see me in the playoffs, and I hope they do."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.