Carter fired as PCA football coach

Jeremy Carter watches warmups before this year's game at Montgomery Academy. 

When Jeremy Carter was promoted to head football coach at Prattville Christian Academy in January, 2019, he spoke of building stability into a program that had never had any.

Two years later, that trend continues as Carter was fired on Jan. 7 by school president Ron Mitchell as the Panthers’ football coach.

“He didn’t give me any reasons, but I’m sure Ron and I will discuss the matter at a later date,” Carter said. “I knew it was going to be a tough job to take, but I wanted to take it, knowing that maybe we could turn it around with the help of the administration and the board here.”

Carter’s firing continues a strange saga at a school that enjoys success in many of its sports, but is now searching for its sixth head football coach in 10 years as an Alabama High School Athletic Association member.

“We’ve got some great coaches here and some great kids that are great for this community,” Carter observed. “Whoever takes over is going to be left with some great young talent. I wish nothing but the best for PCA and the next coach.”

Carter might have been the answer to the rebuilding problem, provided he was given enough time. He broke into coaching at Autauga Academy as a defensive coordinator in 2004 before being promoted to head coach the following year and leading the Generals to the finals in 2005 and the semifinals in 2006 and 2007. He spent a year at Billingsley, another as a defensive line coach at Jemison and then served as an assistant at Morgan Academy (2011-14) and Bessemer Academy (2016-17) before joining the PCA staff as a linebackers coach under John Fussell.

His first year as the Panthers’ head coach, in 2019, he inherited a program with 23 players and started rebuilding from scratch. This fall, he had nearly doubled the players in the program, but most were underclassmen.

“The first summer, it was all about getting numbers out,” Carter said. “Then, last summer, I didn’t have them at all because of COVID. We were competitive. It isn’t like we were getting our eyes beat out, like the first year. The second year, we were competitive and we were still young.”

Carter compiled a 1-19 record in two years, going 1-9 this past season with a forfeit win and two forfeit losses due to COVID-19, along with a pair of overtime losses and a five-point loss to Vincent to close out the year. Still, despite the abrupt change, Carter said he had the support of the administration.

“Ron has always done everything for me and the board has always been there in support of the football program,” Carter said. “He gave me the leeway to do what I needed to do and he’s a great guy to work for, as well as the administrators here and the athletic program.

“You’ve got to win, too. I went 1-19 in two years. If that’s not what they want, then it’s time for me to go.”

Since starting its football program in 2006, the school has never employed a head coach for longer than three years. Carter spoke of stability when he was hired, of the need to build a program for the long term.

“I want to be here for a while,” he said in 2019. “I want to build a program from the ground up. The foundation has been laid, but I want to take it to the next level. There’s enough kids in Prattville so I don’t see why we can’t be competing for region championships, too.”

Now, he’s the latest casualty in a program that has enjoyed just two winning seasons in its 15-year history and has never won a playoff game. Counting an 0-6 record in the playoffs, the football program has compiled a 47-112 record in its history.

Carter said he would fulfill his contract at the school through May, but would look for another job in the meantime. He met with the team on Monday to inform them of the school’s decision.

“I wanted to meet with them personally,” he said. “There were some mixed emotions. There are a few that I don’t know if they’re going to play again or if they’re coming back. They were not happy. They’re fixing to have their third coach.”