DALTON, Ga. -- Technically, David Crane woke up Monday morning still the head football coach at Southeast Whitfield High School. By night's end, the fourth-year coach also knew that would no longer be the case.
Crane, who refused to resign his position in a March 12 meeting with Southeast principal Karey Williams and Whitfield County Schools superintendent Danny Hayes, was terminated as football coach at Monday night's county school board meeting. The decision caught Crane off guard, especially with spring football practice coming up.
"I was called in and told they wanted to go in a different direction, and Miss Williams didn't elaborate," said Crane, whose wife, Elizabeth, resigned as the Southeast girls' basketball head coach after being told she also would not be retained. "That's all I really can say right now."
Phone calls to Williams and Southeast athletic director Scott Ramsey were not returned as of Monday night. Williams, in her first year as Southeast principal, said in a previous interview with the Dalton Daily Citizen that she would not comment since it concerned a personnel matter.
Crane's teams won 10 games in four years, though two wins from last season later were forfeited after the Raiders were found to have used an ineligible player. His 2009 team finished 5-5, the first non-losing season for the program since 1992. The Raiders won 15 games in the 10 years before Crane's hiring.
"It's a tough job, but I feel we were heading in the right direction," said Crane, who had 88 players on his roster last season compared to 40 in his first. "Our numbers have been good the past couple of seasons, and for the most part we've been competitive."
Crane, who has a degree in special education, said he and his wife can stay in the Whitfield County school system as teachers, but he's not sure what the immediate future holds.
"I do want to coach again and I've talked to a few people in the area," he said. "It's a bit different with my wife. She was already talking about scaling back with our children getting older. Initially we were shocked by this, but in the long run it may turn out to be a blessing."
North Murray also recently fired its coach, Larry Cornelius, who started the program and won one game in two seasons of varsity competition.
North Murray athletic director Roger Rainey said the search for Cornelius' replacement is getting close and the school has been pleasantly surprised by the interest in the job.
"We thought it might be tough to find a coach at this time of the year, but we've had over 80 applicants from 14 different states," Rainey said. "We want someone with experience as at least a position coach or coordinator and someone who is familiar with the type of athlete we have in the northwest Georgia area."
Rainey said the decision to fire Cornelius was not just about wins and losses.
"It was a combination of things," he said, "but mostly it was the fact the overall program wasn't where we wanted it to be."
Rainey said the list of candidates has been pared to 10 and he expects a coach to be chosen by the April 5 Murray County school board meeting.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...