Nowell’s out, Calcote’s in at Franklin County

Published 8:30pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013

MEADVILLE — Three days before their first game of the season, the Franklin County Bulldogs have changed head football coaches once again. James “Jimbo” Nowell, who was introduced in February as the new head coach of the team, has left the school following a conflict from within the program, sources confirmed Wednesday morning.

“I don’t have any comment,” said Nowell when questioned about reasons why he left FCHS. Allegations of conduct detrimental to the team surfaced following the Lawrence County Jamboree Friday night. Lawrence County defeated Franklin County 15-0 in the scrimmage.

Nowell is no longer an employee of the FCHS School District. He signed a 1-year contract in July with FCHS but it has since been voided.

Chris Calcote, 63, the FCHS Athletic Director, will take over as interim head coach for this season only. Calcote has 39 years of coaching experience. He spent 16 years as athletic director at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. HE is a 1969 FCHS graduate.

“I spoke with our team and we’re moving on and staying positive,” said Calcote, who is a former West Lincoln and Natchez head football coach during his coaching tenure. “Our seniors understand and know that we can still have a good year as we try to put everything behind us.”

The tumultuous coaching change at FCHS comes on the heels of another controversial change. Former head football coach Rickey O’Quinn was named head basketball coach after a surprise meeting with school officials last December. O’Quinn had coached the football team for three years. They were 7-5 last year.

Nowell had served as defensive coordinator at Pearl River Community College for two years under Tim Hatten who was fired last spring.

Now the Bulldogs are looking at their third coaching change in less than a year.

Franklin County Superintendent of Education Ray Carlock could not be reached for comment about the sudden coaching change.

“It’s never a good thing to make a coaching change right before the first game,” added Calcote. “As long as we give effort, play hard, and keep our heads up, everything else will take care of itself.”

Franklin County’s seniors are hopeful to still have a good season. The Bulldogs finished 7-5 last year and third in Region 7-3A.

“All these changes are something we as a team have to overcome. We must come together as one,” said Troy Norman, the Bulldogs senior defensive captain. “We’re going to be alright. We have to be.”

The Bulldogs play host to Class 5A Brookhaven Friday night at 7 in Meadville’s Louie Mullins Memorial Stadium.

FCHS has had a constant turnover in coaches and coaching staff since making back-to-back State Championship appearances in 2006 and 2007. Former coach Grady McCluskey left the program in December of 2007, and Trent Hammond was hired in March of 2008.

Hammond stayed until December of 2009. O’Quinn was named his replacement in March of 2010.

Two members of the Bulldogs 06′ and 07′ coaching staffs, Jeremy Loy and David Tadlock, are currently assistant coaches on the Ole Brook Panthers staff.

Franklin County won the 3A State Championship in 06′, a 23-13 win over Nettleton. The Bulldogs fell to Louisville 21-7 in the 07′ state finals.