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Coaches at Oklahoma City Public Schools face big hurdles

RYAN ABER Modified: August 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm •  Published: August 22, 2009
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Terrell Love admits it won’t be an easy job.The new football coach at U.S. Grant understands the challenges that lie ahead if he’s to help turn the Generals around.Love is taking over a program that has won three games — none in district play — since moving up to 6A in 2004.
The Generals last won more than one game in 2003, their last season in 5A. They haven’t had a winning season since 1998.For Love, though, it doesn’t start with facilities, or getting in-school athletics or any other outside element.It starts with relationships."The hardest part is getting kids to believe,” Love said. "You have to get them to believe you care about them, and not just as football players but as people, and that you’re going to be around.”Douglass coach Willis Alexander knows how Love feels.Alexander took over as John Marshall’s head coach in 2004, and stayed for three years before moving over to Douglass."Going in at John Marshall, it was a trust issue,” Alexander said. "One of the questions I was asked is, ‘How long are you going to be here.’ Kids need continuity.”And continuity hasn’t been something many Oklahoma City Public Schools high schools have made much of.Since 2000, the nine OKCPS high schools that field football teams have had a combined 29 coaches. With the exception of Centennial, which is in its third year, only Southeast and Star Spencer have had fewer than three head coaches in that span. Capitol Hill has had six coaches since 2000, with only Pascal Jones serving more than one season."You look at all the successful programs around the state, they’ve had a continuous coach,” Southeast coach Michael Branch said. "There have been very few examples of places that have been successful for a long period of time without continuity."You look at Gary Rose at Carl Albert, Antwain Jimmerson at Booker T., Allan Trimble at Jenks — those guys have been there for a while.”No school in the district has had more success than Douglass. It’s no surprise that the Trojans have also had the least coaching turnover. Alexander is just the eighth head coach at the school since Moses Miller started there in 1937.The Trojans also have had continuity with assistants. Alexander and several of his assistants are Douglass alums, and they have no intention of leaving the school.

A three-part series on football at Oklahoma City’s public schools
→Today: U.S. Grant coach Terrell Love has a big task in front of him — trying to turn around the Generals’ football team. He’s up for the challenge, though.

→Sunday: John Marshall’s Ken Berry is trying to follow in the footsteps of George West and Gerald McCoy — players who stayed at OKCPS schools and went on to play big-time college football.

→Monday: A look at what is being done to improve the football programs across OKCPS, and several people offer up their ideas for how football can be revived in the district.

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