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McCluskey leaving Franklin Co.

MEADVILLE — The office is empty now and the seasons are only amemory in Franklin County under former head football coach GradyMcCluskey. The three-year boss of the Bulldogs resigned from hispost Tuesday morning to take a new job in Columbus as offensivecoordinator under new Columbus head coach Bubba Davis.

McCluskey, a 1987 West Point High graduate, went a combined 32-8during his three years as head coach at FCHS. He led the Bulldogsto back-to-back State Championship appearances in 2006 and 2007,winning the crown in 2006.

“It’s been great here, and I enjoyed my time and the kids hereat Franklin County,” said McCluskey. “Another opportunity presenteditself to me Sunday night, and I thought about it, and felt it wasthe right decision for me and my family.”

The move leaves the Bulldogs searching for a new head coach forthe third time in the last six years. McCluskey spent six seasonswith the Bulldogs, the first three years as an assistant undercurrent Lafayette County head football coach Anthony Hart from2002-2004. He took over for Hart in March of 2005.

“It’s a shock for us,” said Franklin County Superintendent ofEducation Grady Fleming about McCluskey’s resignation. “The plan(coaching search) right now is to take it slow and to make sure weget the right person to pick up where he left off.”

The Bulldogs went 12-3 this season and 14-1 last year. FranklinCounty has won the last two Class 3A South State Championships, andwill be the favorite again next year with a load of talent comingback.

“I leave the program a lot better than when I took over,” saidMcCluskey. “I’m proud of the success we’ve had here. I wish themluck. There’s a lot of talent here.”

Several Franklin County players were shocked to hear that theirhead coach was leaving. Many could not understand why.

“I feel kind of bad,” said sophomore defensive tackle BobbyO’Quinn. “My mom was sad to hear he was leaving, and everybody onthe team was getting mad when they found out. It’s really big newsto everybody in Franklin County.”

Being closer to his family and a substantial salary increasewere two of the main reasons McCluskey noted for his leaving 3AFranklin County for 5A Columbus. He plans to report to Columbussome time this week.

McCluskey will reunite with his former West Point coach atColumbus. Davis was

“I’ll get to coach under my former head coach up there,” addedMcCluskey. “It’s a 5A job, so it’s a pretty good raise. I know thesuperintendent of education (Dr. Del Phillips) up there and I knowCoach Davis. So I know they will look out for me. It’s a goodsituation.”

Davis coached at West Point from 1974-93, winning four statechampionships in 1982, 1987, 1988, and 1989. He served as headcoach at New Albany last year before taking the Columbus job lastweek.

“He (Grady) coached with me at Wayne County and over inAlabama,” Davis said. “I know what he’s capable of doing. He’s agood young coach that’s proven himself.”

Upon Franklin County school board approval of his release,McCluskey hopes to report to Columbus sometime this week. The boardmeets tonight.

“If I get released tonight, I’ll be up there in the morning,”said McCluskey as he cleaned out his office. “I’ve really enjoyedit here. I’ve really enjoyed the kids and my coaching staff. It’sjust a move I had to make for myself and my family. It’s part ofcoaching.”

A search for McCluskey’s successor at Franklin County will beginright away. Several area coaches are expected to apply. TheBulldogs will return 9 starters on offense and 7 on defense nextseason.

“Somebody’s going to be getting a good team,” added McCluskey.”A really good team.”