A long process finally reached a resolution for the Smiths Station football team on Thursday night at a specially called Lee County Board of Education meeting as Adam Fossett was approved and introduced as the Panthers new head coach.
After a unanimous approval and a round of applause from those in attendance, Fossett admitted relief at being able to turn his attention toward improving his new football team.
“I’m extremely relieved to get this part taken care of and be able to move on and know what direction I’m going in,” said Fossett, who has coached eight years in Alabama, the last four of which came at Childersburg High. “I understand certain things happen. That’s the way it is. Everything’s worked out, though.”
Those “certain things” were a delay in his approval by the board. He was originally supposed to be introduced at the county’s Feb. 9 meeting, but the vote was delayed due to questions among a couple of board members. Those questions centered primarily around his 2015 record at Childersburg.
After a 21-13 record and three straight trips to the playoffs from 2012-14, Fossett’s Tigers dropped to 2-8 a year ago. That win total was three fewer than his next lowest total, when he went 5-6 in his first year as a head coach at Winterboro in 2011.
“I think that concerned some people,” Lee County superintendent Mac McCoy said. “But when you look at his history and the grown that he’s had each year. That was certainly a question that was asked by some committee members, but I had done my homework and I knew he started some eighth graders on the offensive line.”
In fact, Fossett said, four eighth graders started on the 2015 Childersburg team from Week 5 on.
“I don’t care what region you play in, you can’t win with that,” McCoy said with a laugh. “You have years like that, and you just deal with it.”
Fossett said he didn’t expect the questions to come quite as much as they did, but that he understands the other side of it, as well.
“If I was in their shoes, I probably would have asked some of those questions, as well,” he said. “I wish it didn’t turn out that way for the kids I had (at Childersburg), but it’s high school football and that happens in high school football.”
The main thing that McCoy and Smiths Station athletic director Sherry Paysinger said they liked about Fossett was his commitment to improvement in the weight room and his immersion within his community.
“He does things the right way,” Paysinger said. “He brings a lot to us. He’s a community person, and that’s something I really think we need. He’s a great educator. I think he’s the package deal.”
“What he’s been able to do in the community is just as important as what he’s been able to do on the field, and that’s what we’re most excited about,” McCoy said.
Fossett coached at Winterboro from 2008-11, compiling a 30-15 record and reaching the playoffs three times. At Childersburg, he was 23-21 in four seasons, reaching the playoffs in each of his first three seasons, including a 9-3 campaign in 2013, before dropping to two wins last year.
McCoy said that no supplement has been agreed upon as of Thursday night for Fossett, who is a graduate of Lamar County High in Barnesville, Ga.
He will assume his position officially on Feb. 29, at which point his offseason program will begin in earnest.
“The first thing is building a team mentality and a team attitude,” Fossett said. “Those guys have to believe they can win. If they don’t believe they can win, they’re not going to win. We’ve got to get in the weight room and get bigger, faster, stronger. There’s a process in place. It’ll be a tedious process, but I’m ready to get going.”