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Hart accepts job at Madison Central

MEADVILLE – For the seventh time in 11 years the Franklin County Bulldogs will conduct a head football coaching search.

Lincoln County native Anthony Hart has accepted the head coaching position at Madison Central. Hart leaves the Class 3A Bulldogs for a 6A program that is considered one of the best in the Southeast.

Anthony Hart

Anthony Hart

Hart will be introduced Friday at Madison Central.

“It’s shocking,” said FC junior standout De’Martre Collins about Hart’s departure. “Him leaving really caught us by surprise.”

Hart, who conducted spring practice at FC this week, will replace Brad Peterson, who left earlier this month for an off-field staff position at Mississippi State.

“When you talk about Madison Central, you talk about one of the very best schools and best jobs in the state of Mississippi,” Hart said. “I’m looking forward to it and I’m very excited. It’s a good place for my family to be.”

Hart leaves FC after two seasons, his second stint at the school, where he led the Bulldogs to 8-5 and 7-4 records, including a district title in 2014.

FC lost to Kemper County in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs last year. The Dawgs return a solid group of players, and will be one of the favorites to make a run at a state title in the fall.

In 2005, Hart left FC after serving three years as head coach of the Bulldogs. He took a job at Lafayette County and guided the Commodores to back-to-back Class 4A State Championships in 2010 and 2011. The highlight of his coaching career includes a 32-game win streak.

Hart spent nine years at Lafayette, the first seven as head coach, compiling a 90-19 record with three region championships. The Commodores lost to St. Stanislaus in the 2009 Class 4A championship and beat North Pike and Laurel the next two seasons for the school’s first championships.

During the Dores’ win streak, they posted six shutouts and held opponents to a touchdown or less 15 other times.

He returned to FC in 2014 with high expectations, as he shaped the program for a potential run at a state title in the coming years.

The Bulldogs won the 2006 Class 3A Championship under Grady McCluskey, who is an assistant coach at Alabama powerhouse Baker High.

FCHS will conduct its annual Spring Game March 10 inside Louie Mullins Memorial Stadium. A coaching search to find Hart’s replacement will soon follow.

One of the key factors for Hart’s departure is not only being a head coach at the 6A level, but with that comes a substantial pay raise at Madison Central.

The move also gives Hart the keys to a program that has college-type facilities, fan support and tradition. The Jaguars beat South Panola last year in the playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Starkville in the third round.

“When I was at Lafayette, we played some 6A schools and some 5A schools,” said Hart. “At the end of the day, it’s about preparation and getting players ready and having great players and a great staff to go with it. The run at Lafayette prepared me. I got to see a little bit of everything.”

Overall, Hart has been a head coach for 15 seasons, including stops at his alma mater Loyd Star and West Lauderdale. His teams went to the postseason 14 times.