Brent Thornton sat calmly inside his office Monday evening at Central, showing no ill signs of a difficult and draining day.
The longtime offensive coordinator ascended to the role of interim head coach Monday afternoon when Central’s head coach of nine years, Anthony Hines, resigned amid an investigation of his handling of a player’s physical examination.
The player didn’t pass a physical, but Hines said a paperwork mix-up caused the coaches to miss that the player wasn’t cleared. The player then participated in a football camp in Alabama.
“I guess it’s not really how you ever want to (become a head coach),” Thornton said. “But the season doesn’t stop. We still have to get these guys ready to play a game.”
Thornton will lead the Chargers against Towers at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Henderson Stadium just four days after Hines’ resignation.
Thornton, however, won’t feel overwhelmed by his new position. A man with a pretty steady disposition, Thornton has worked alongside Hines for more than a decade.
The two coached together on Maurice Freeman’s staff at Southwest before making the move over to Central to replace C.B. Cornett in 2002. They’ve coached together for 15 years total.
“You really get used to seeing someone every day, knowing how they act and respond to certain things,” Thornton said.
The two coaches have been close since the move from Southwest. When Hines suffered a stroke prior to the 2009 season, he wanted to make sure Thornton took control of the program.
Thornton led the team for three weeks while Hines recovered from the stroke, and Thornton gathered some experience in running the day-to-day operations of a football program.
“I think he can do a good job leading the team,” Hines said Monday. “I’ve trusted him, and he knows what he’s doing.”
Thornton took over as interim coach two weeks ago when Hines was placed on administrative leave with pay while the school district’s investigation unfolded.
Thornton said the staff didn’t have many struggles in running the program smoothly. There will be no changes with offensive or defensive philosophies. The program’s continuity remains, Thornton said, just without the head of the program.
“I’m not worried about the coaching part,” Thornton said. “I worry about how much motivating I’ll have to do. The kids are down. It’s a shock to them.”
Thornton said he believes the Central players will be fine when they step on the field against Towers. He even believes they’re OK when practice begins every afternoon. But he doesn’t believe the players will ever completely move past Hines’ resignation.
“Every day, they’ll think about it I’m sure,” Thornton said. “You just want them to listen and focus when you have them. But this is something that will stick with some guys. It will stick with all of us.”