Praying for continuity at Perry

May 8, 2013 

Perry High School principal Darryl Albritton and the Houston County Board of Education face a difficult personnel decision. They need to find a replacement for Stacey Harden, the Perry director of athletics and head football coach who suddenly resigned his post a few weeks back.

The timing of the search is hardly ideal. Openings of this kind are usually created, then filled, before winter ends. The new guy -- like Von Lassister at Houston County High -- assembles a staff while generating camaraderie with the student body. There will be no time for that at Perry. The Panthers were scheduled to begin spring football practice on Monday.

Harden’s coaching tenure at Perry was widely regarded as successful. At first glance, the Panthers’ record of 19-14 in that time is not eye-popping, but Perry did enjoy winning seasons in each of Harden’s three years. If the team manages a fourth this fall, it will be the first time the program has enjoyed that level of sustained success since the late 1950s.

Given that, there’s no need for a “change of direction” here. After all, Harden’s success wasn’t his alone. There are quality football minds remaining at the school. Quality leaders, as well. It’s logical to believe at least one of them wants the job. (The posting was due to come down on Tuesday.)

If a current assistant does apply, that should make the board’s decision easier. What Perry needs now -- and what its athletes and remaining coaches deserve -- is continuity. Whoever lands the job will be the fifth Perry AD of the millennium. Of the 45 GHSA schools that play football in Middle Georgia, only Montgomery County and West Laurens have gone through more head coaches in that time frame. Only GMC, Jeff Davis and Twiggs County have hired as many. That is not the company any school in the Houston County system should be keeping.

It’s a good job, and for that reason there will be other applicants from across the state and perhaps even out of state. They’ll gather like vultures along the side of U.S. 341.

That’s not a criticism. Opportunity often presents itself in untidy bundles. If someone desires to be a head coach, there is no reason to hesitate.

There may be true up-and-comers in the mix -- relatively young guys who present glowing recommendations and bright futures. It’s a temptation.

Pray (silently, of course) Dr. Albritton and the board resist that temptation. A new face yields other new faces in the form of coordinators and other assistants. That, in turn, yields changes in other programs and classrooms. It all adds up to maximum distraction for the school’s most important constituency: students.

Contact Chris Deighan at cdeighan@cox.net.

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