High School Sports

Perry, Bleckley County in market for new football coaches

The end of the season in any sport also marks the beginning of watching for coaching changes, and that part of the season has started in Middle Georgia with football changes at Perry and Bleckley County.

Carl Dixon is out at Perry and Tracy White at Bleckley County, Dixon turning in his paperwork Tuesday, the same day of White’s announcement that he had resigned.

Dixon said he met with principal Wesley Martin on Friday, and that’s when the decision was ostensibly made, although Dixon officially resigned Tuesday.

“We had a change this year in administration in the principal’s office,” Dixon said. “I’ve been around this 41 years, and basically, he wants to take the program in a different direction.

“I respect that decision. He’s the leader of the school. Ultimately in this business, it comes down to wins and losses.”

The Panthers went 5-15 in Dixon’s two seasons as head coach, which were his 16th and 17th years overall at the school. Martin was hired in April to replace Darryl Albritton, whose retirement became effective July 1.

Albritton promoted Dixon to replace Erik Soliday, whom Albritton hired in 2013. Soliday resigned after the 2014 season, his second, and returned to Americus-Sumter, where he had coached in the early 2000s.

Perry’s next head coach will be its seventh since the turn of the century, and no head coach at the school has lasted longer than six seasons since Bob Morrow’s eight-year run in the 1970s.

Dixon is recovering from throat cancer, which was diagnosed in October of 2015. He said the program, despite the record, was making progress, that it had 13 seniors this year but would have 21 next year, with larger-than-usual sophomore and freshman classes.

“We knew we were going to go through a couple tough years, but we thought we could weather the storm,” Dixon said. “That was my selling point, some consistency, somebody the kids knew.

“It’s the business we’re in. Houston County’s a great school system, Perry High is a great community.”

Dixon said his health is fine and he still wants to coach.

“I had dreams and aspirations: beat cancer and come back and win a state championship,” the 64-year-old said. “The good Lord didn’t have that in the plans.”

Bleckley County had a little momentum going when White took over for Sam Barrs as head coach in February of 2012. The Royals followed up a 6-5 season in Barrs’ finale with 8-3 and 9-3 seasons. But Bleckley County has suffered three straight losing seasons, going 8-23 since then.

And that led to White’s resignation. Superintendent Steve Smith said in an email statement to the Bleckley Progress and Cochran Journal that White’s resignation came after discussions with Smith and principal (Trey) Belflower.

“He has informed his coaches and players of this decision,” Smith wrote. “We truly appreciate Coach White’s dedication to the players, the school, and our school system. We look forward to him continuing to serve our students in the future.”

White is a Bleckley County alum, as is his wife Lori. White was an assistant at the school early in his career, hired by Barrs. White, who declined comment Tuesday night, then was an assistant at Dublin before returning to Bleckley County for his first head coaching job.

The Royals made the playoffs in White’s first three seasons and beat Bryan County 20-14 in double-overtime in the second round in 2013.

Bleckley County went 1-9 in 2015 and 2-8 this season, finishing 1-10 in region play — Region 4-2A in 2015 and 3-2A in 2016 — in that span.