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Lenoise Richey tabbed as John Essex football coach

New John Essex High School head football coach Lenoise Richey will take over the program today when he replaces outgoing coach Fentress Means.

“I’m very excited about it, very enthused,” Richey, who coached Class 4A Livingston to a 2-8 mark in 2008, said. “I’m looking at it as my signature project; the one that I look back on after I retire and know that I changed things there.”

Richey, who inherits a program that has seen a string of difficult seasons, said he understands the difficult task in front of him as he looks to make JEHS competitive on an annual basis.

“It’s going to take several years,” Richey said. “But I’ve talked to the administration and they’ve committed to me and I’ve committed to them.”

John Essex principal Loretta McCoy cited factors outside of football as distancing Richey from other candidates.

“I was impressed when I first met him,” McCoy said. “He seemed to have a lot of energy and a lot of passion for children and for coaching. He seems to want to be a very good role model. He stressed academics the way they should be stressed.”

“I’m a firm believer that if you look at the schools who make AYP and get national recognition year in and year out, normally they have pretty good athletic programs,” Richey said.

While helping his players academically is a key part of his long-term plans at John Essex, Richey understands that the first step to accomplishing anything starts this week.

“The first thing is just about building relationships,” Richey said. “I have to start winning their trust. But the most important thing is to remember that this whole thing is a process.”

Richey believes that one of the primary keys to building a successful program at John Essex is implementing stability at the top with a head coach who is committed to the program. He views such stability as helpful in guaranteeing the ability to fill the Hornets’ biggest void.

“The biggest things is consistency and discipline that I have to get in place,” Richey said. “(The Hornets) have a lot more athletes than people give them credit for. I saw it firsthand at the Jamboree game I hosted last fall.”

Once Richey assesses his personnel and his equipment, he will have a little more than seven weeks to get his team ready for its season-opening clash with regional rival A.L. Johnson. That will mean implementing an alternate version of his offensive and defensive schemes.

“My ultimate system will probably see a lot of modifications,” Richey said. “I’ll also add some things that I normally wouldn’t do just to get us by. It’s a very watered-down version of the system that I would have used.”