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Goode coach gone

Pierre Goode, a one-time Alabama football star who helped rebuild a football program at John Essex High School, has lost his job at the school.

Luke Hallmark, superintendent of the Marengo County School System, was limited by state law about the information he could give concerning Goode’s apparent termination from the school.

“Because he wasn’t a tenured employee, I’m not allowed to discuss the specifics,” Hallmark said. “I can tell you that his contract has not been renewed.”

In other words, a team that exceeded all expectations on the football field last year needs a new coach.

Rumors circulating about Goode’s departure could not be verified on Friday. Goode could not be reached for comment, but numerous sources indicated the non-renewal of Goode’s contract came because the coach lacked proper academic requirements.

Hallmark could not comment on the speculation, and only suggested that a search has begun for a new Hornets head coach.

“We’re required to post the job for two weeks, and we have received some interest in the position,” Hallmark said.

While it may be unlikely, there is an opportunity for Goode to reclaim his job. Under Alabama education guidelines, Goode can reapply for his position if his termination was related to incomplete academic requirements.

The latest events surrounding the John Essex coach cap off a year of sporadic highs and lows.

After missing the playoffs in football for two consecutive seasons leading up to the 2003-2004 year, John Essex played its way to the top of the area standings. With only one loss, heading into a Week 8 contest with Akron High School, JEH principal Loretta McCoy received a letter from the Alabama High School Athletic Association informing her that two Hornet players were ineligible for competition that year.

Playing the two ineligible athletes — who moved to Demopolis from Clarke County — resulted in the forfeiture of the Hornets first six games of the season. The ruling also eliminated John Essex from an imminent spot in the playoffs.

Goode expressed frustration at the ruling, but said he accepted the punishment.

His team accepted a new challenge. After defeating Akron, the Hornets traveled to Sweet Water, where they sported an 8-1 record.

The game, which ended with a goal-line stand and an upset win for the Hornets, became a vicious scene after the clock hit zero.

John Essex players dashed across the field, through Sweet Water cheerleaders and players, and ripped pep signs from the fence lining the field. Players carried those signs to the middle of the field and brazenly destroyed the paper.

As the celebration quieted, Goode defended his players and their emotion.

“This is something that has built up in these guys for a couple of years,” he said after the Sweet Water game.

The next week, Goode received a reprimand and issued a letter of apology to the Sweet Water coaches, players and fans.

“I have always tried to instill in my team good sportsmanship and good character, for being a professional player once myself; I know how important it is,” Goode said in a public letter. “But, for some reason, my team seemed to have forgotten all that they have been taught on that night. I apologize for their behavior.”

Though Goode battled through the immature actions of his players, at times, last season, he also built a strong program and sternly disciplined players for their poor behavior.

During games, Goode demanded excellence and routinely disciplined players for sloppiness and poor sportsmanship.

After the Hornets’ 28-22 homecoming win against Sunshine on Oct. 11, Goode kept his players in the pouring rain long after the game ended. This time, the players weren’t celebrating. Instead, they were being punished for poor sportsmanship.

Members of the Hornets’ team lined up on the goal line and ran gassers homecoming night after committing a series of personal fouls.

While the end of that game didn’t go down as one of the greatest moments of Goode’s legacy at John Essex, his reaction and discipline of players earned a great deal of respect in the football community.