From the Sidelines: Richey right for Hornets

Published 8:36 pm Friday, July 10, 2009

John Essex has a new head football coach. That coach is Lenoise Richey. And that coach has a tremendous task in front of him. That task is breathing life into a program that lacks even the faintest hint of residue from its long-departed glory.

Maybe most have forgotten, but John Essex used to win football games. John Essex used to make the playoffs. Most importantly of all, John Essex football used to garner some excitement that started with the young men on the field.

But those events took place under Friday night lights that illuminated players a generation older than the man who just accepted the head coaching job.

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The Hornets of recent years have taken on a much different persona than those who preceded them. They have been subjected to watching teammates’ careers be shortened by academic ineligibility, enduring roster number that have dwindled perilously low and the lack of stability that comes with continuous turnover at the top.

That fact makes this hire a crucial one for the JEHS program. The good news for the John Essex administration is that they found the right man.

Richey is young, energetic and enthusiastic. He has a genuine and infectious demeanor capable of helping him to rally his players out of self doubt and into the belief that they can compete. Richey is a family man and figures to be a positive role model to a team in dire need of positive role models. He is a coach who is as concerned about his players’ academic well-being as he is with their athletic prowess.

So the administration got it right. Now it faces the charge of staying the course and giving Richey enough time and enough assistance to make a considerable difference on the program.

The athletes are not and have not been the question at John Essex. Rather, it has been the questions in the minds of those athletes that have led the team to a place where last season’s 2-8 record was a bit of a milestone. Now, the school has taken the first steps in answering a number of those questions.

It has handed the keys of the program to an upright man who is happy to have them; one who is committed to making a difference in not only the team, but the young men who make it up.

It is impossible to project what the Hornets’ win total may be on Friday nights over the next two falls. But it is safe to say that the players will begin to rack up victories in the weight room, on the practice field and in the classroom.