The absence of an open teaching position at Edinburgh Community High School for the 2015-16 school year is hindering the search for its next head football coach.
It’s a dilemma athletics director David Walden has been dealing with for more than five months now.
“We’ve had about 40 applicants, and I’ve interviewed six. Right now we’re in a holding pattern because we have no openings at the high school,” said Walden, who is hoping to have Bill Unsworth’s successor introduced no later than the school board meeting May 18.
Unsworth, who started out as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Franklin College (1978-82), officially took over the Edinburgh program in April 2010 — four months prior to the start of the season.
The primary difference, however, is that Unsworth was retired. Citing the desire to spend more time with family, Unsworth elected to step down this past November after guiding the Lancers to a 16-36 record in five seasons.
His presence proved a major step forward for the program, as Edinburgh had won only five of its previous 110 football games — one being a forfeit — dating back to the start of the 1999 season.
He also inherited what had been the state’s longest active losing streak at 52 games, a span highlighted by the Lancers being shut out 21 times.
In 2013, Unsworth’s fourth season, Edinburgh posted a 5-6 record, which tied the program’s total number of triumphs from 1999 to 2009 (11 seasons).
“I think Bill did an excellent job and understood the type of kids that go to school at Edinburgh. He expected commitment, and Bill always tried to develop character, which goes a long way,” Walden said.
Football, like most other sports offered at Edinburgh Community High School, benefits tremendously by having the head coach present on a daily basis to interact with student-athletes.
This is particularly imperative within a Class A program such as Edinburgh.
Unsworth’s final Lancers squad started the 2014 season with 33 players, but injuries allowed him to dress only 19 (including only five seniors) for the 55-7 sectional loss at Lutheran.
There are seven lay coaches among the 14 Lancers athletics programs this school year — volleyball, girls basketball, boys and girls golf, softball, and boys and girls track and field.
Walden hopes not to add to that count.
“It’s hard to offer a job to someone when all it is is football. Bill was retired, so he didn’t need anything else. But most coaches need a teaching job with it,” Walden said.
“It could wind up being a lay person, but we would like to have someone in the building who has day-to-day contact with the kids. We need to grow our numbers.”
APPLES AND ORANGES
Edinburgh Community High School might not have posted a winning record in Bill Unsworth’s five seasons as head coach, but the improvement in Lancers football was significant:
Points per game avg.: 22.3
From 1999-2009: 5-105
Points avg.: 8.0