Royce Young’s tenure as head coach and athletic director at Escambia County High School effectively ended last week, when a vacancy in the position was posted on the county school board’s website.
The school system posting did not indicate whether Young resigned his position or if School Superintendent John Knott had recommended that he not be rehired, but the outgoing coach said Friday morning that it was a combination of the two.
He said he was told that a change was imminent and he did not want to stand in the way of the search for a new coach.
“I did resign,” Young said. “It was made clear to me in December that I would not be retained in my duties at Escambia County High School. It (the resignation) was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to be a hindrance to what they think is best for the students here at Atmore.
“The right thing to do, because of it being a football position, would be to resign so they can start their search and get somebody in here to do spring training and not let the football program get behind.
“So I guess it was on both ends. They did make it clear that I wouldn’t be back, and I resigned so they could get it posted.”
Young was hired in 2014 to try and turn the floundering ECHS football program around. Over three years his Blue Devils teams went 4-26, including a 2-8 record during the recently completed season. The team had gone 2-8 under Lev Holly the season prior to Young’s hiring.
Local school officials were apparently hoping Young would have the type of success at ECHS as he did at Flomaton High, when his teams improved from 1-9 in 1991, to 5-6 in 1992 to 7-4 in 1993.
When that didn’t happen, they apparently decided to look elsewhere.
“It’s in the South; it’s in Alabama, specifically, it’s football,” Young said. “Nothing matters but your win-loss record. That’s what you’re judged on.”
ECHS Principal Dennis Fuqua wouldn’t elaborate, but admitted that Young and his staff had laid the groundwork for an upswing in the program.
“We’re looking to go in a different direction for the upcoming year,” he said. “Coach Young and his staff have done many of the steps that have to be taken care of to have a successful program. It is my hope that we can find the right person that is the best fit for the position here at ECHS.”
Fuqua said he hopes to have a new coach hired by February’s Escambia County Board of Education meeting, and that the new coach will officially assume charge of the football program in March.
Young has been a head coach at seven different high schools in Alabama over a 27-year career. Prior to taking the ECHS job, his Carbon Hill Bulldogs teams recorded a 4-26 record from 2010-2012.
His longest and most successful coaching job came at Brilliant High School in Marion County, where he spent 10 years and guided the Tigers to the playoffs three straight years, from 2000-2002. His 2001 team posted an 11-2 record and made the Class 1A quarterfinals.
The county school board may consider Young’s resignation at its next meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m., on Thursday, January 19, at Escambia County Middle School.