By CHRIS HOBBS
NEWTON – Derrick Minor won’t return for a fourth season as head football coach at Fred T. Foard High but says he will coach again.
“I don’t have an opportunity (currently) … but I hope so,” Minor said late Thursday afternoon, a day after he said he and Fred T. Foard administrators reached a “mutual decision” he wouldn’t continue as Tigers head coach.
He guided Foard to a record of 18-18 – 3-8 in 2016, 9-4 in 2017 and 6-6 last season – and his last two teams reached the state playoffs. The Tigers have reached the postseason three straight years only twice in school history.
Minor will continue to teach physical education and weight training through the end of the school year. He met with Foard’s players Tuesday afternoon to tell them he won’t be back.
He said his players asked him where he was going.
“I told them I am not going anywhere, but I am a football coach,” Minor said. “It (the meeting) was extremely tough. I was emotional because I didn’t come here to leave…”
Minor said he definitely wants to continue coaching. He came to Foard after being head coach at Rockingham County (3A). He was also a head coach at Princeton (1A) and has a career record of 49-39 in seven seasons.
He came to Foard for the 2016 season, replacing Tom Harper, who resigned, after three seasons in which the Tigers went 0-11, 6-6 and 1-10.
“It was time,” Minor said of deciding his time at Foard was done. “There was no big event that happened. It was just accumulation of events that happened that it was time to go separate ways. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any other option.”
A year after winning nine games for the first time since 2008 (and for only the fourth time in school history) and winning a state playoff game for the first time since 1982 (over Maiden) in 2017, Foard started last season at 0-4.
The Tigers then rallied to go 6-6, finishing second in the Northwestern Foothills 2A at 5-1, and they were eliminated in the first round of the state 2AA playoffs by West Stokes.
Minor had two assistant coaches this season (Josh Martin and Jeremy Marlowe) after having six assistants in his first two years at Foard.
Foard athletic director Samy Shreitah said Josh Speagle was a third assistant coach working with Tigers junior varsity and varsity football this season. Martin is on the Foard faculty; Marlowe and Speagle are paid non-faculty coaches, Sheritah said.
“I will tell you that coaching-wise, this was one of the hardest I’ve been a part of,” Minor said. He praised his players, saying “They trusted in us and weathered the storm” after losing games to Maiden, Bandys, North Lincoln and West Lincoln before beating St. Stephens. Foard’s only other loss in the regular season was to conference champion Hibriten.
Foard’s search for a new head football coach begins immediately, Shreitah said. He said it will be the top priority of the athletic department in the first week of January, when school reopens after the Christmas holidays.
Fred T. Foard Principal Stephen Westmoreland was not available for comment on Thursday and did not respond to questions e-mailed by HobbsDailyReport.com seeking additional information and/or comment about Foard football.
The Tigers will be hiring a head football coach for the fifth time in nine years, and Minor is the eighth head football coach at Foard to stay three or fewer years over the last 32 years (Donnie Bassinger, Kevin Wilson, Mike McRee, Allan Gorry, the late Charlie Lloyd, Jason Phelps, Harper and Minor).
STATEMENT BY PRINCIPAL
A statement issued by Foard Principal Stephen Westmoreland when he announced by e-mail that Derrick Minor won’t be back as head varsity football coach of the Tigers:
“Fred T. Foard is grateful for the dedication and hard work Coach Minor has given to this program over the past three years. He has implemented a framework that can be built upon. We wish him the best in his coaching future.
“With regard to the naming of a new coach, this process will begin immediately. The administration and athletic department at Foard have began (sic) discussing the process for hiring a new coach.”