In the 16 years Jeff Foshee (photo right) has been a head coach, he has coached 10 teams to winning seasons.
In the time he’s been alive, Curry High’s football program has produced just 10 winning seasons.
“We won five games up here last year and people were tickled to death,” Foshee said. “I guess if you haven’t won a whole lot over the years, the little bit you do win, people are appreciative of it. I wasn’t even the head coach and people were telling me we’re glad you’re here.”
He was hired last season as the defensive coordinator for Philip Smith’s Yellow Jackets but after Smith stepped down at the end of the 2018-19 school year, he was named the head coach of a program that has managed five wins just three times in the last 23 years.
Foshee, who resigned from Stanhope Elmore in the midst of an investigation into the Mustangs’ football program in 2016, had been virtually ignored in previous head coaching applications at Huntsville High, Elmore County, Autaugaville, Park Crossing and G.W. Carver stemming from allegations that he had paid a teacher to change grades for a student-athlete.
“There’s been so many things said that’s out there that’s not right,” Foshee said. “I will say this: I had a coward of a principal and a coward of a superintendent for this to ever happen to me the way it did. There’s a lot of people now that know the truth and know what really happened.”
Foshee wasn’t even considered for interviews to fill assistant coaching vacancies at Wetumpka, Prattville and Robert E. Lee. A story written on Foshee last summer caught the attention of Curry principal Eric Woodley’s wife Hollie, who attended Stanhope Elmore with Foshee in the late 1980s. Woodley offered Foshee a job as Smith’s assistant last fall and the former head coach immediately moved to the small 4A school just north of Jasper.
“It’s been a blessing,” he said. “I think it’s a really good place. It’s a nice area to live in and these kids have bought into what we’re doing. It’s been a really good experience for me to be up here.
“When Coach Smith decided he wanted to get out and stepped down, they came to me and I told them of course I was interested.”
It may prove to be the biggest challenge of his coaching career. At Stanhope Elmore, he inherited a program that was accustomed to winning. At Curry, he inherited one that is accustomed to losing. None of the previous seven head coaches since Curry’s last winning season in 1996 ever came close to a winning record as a coach. Smith held the job the past four years, compiling a 12-29 record.
“I think we’ve got to work a little different from what we’ve done,” Foshee observed. “Number one, we’ve got to work a little harder. You’ve got to change the culture a little bit. You’ve got to get people believing in these young men and doing things the right way and see where it takes us. It’s a challenge, a 4A school that hasn’t won a lot of games, but I’ve always been up to a challenge.”
He wanted to stay close to central Alabama for his children, but a promotion to head coach changes his mindset about searching for job openings in the River Region.
“When you get put in charge, it’s your baby and that becomes different,” Foshee said. “This is a good place to be. It’s beautiful country up here. I really like it. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Foshee compiled a 105-72 mark with 12 playoff appearances in 16 years at Stanhope Elmore, but coaching a team with the talent of the 6A Mustangs and trying to find enough talent with the 4A Yellow Jackets presents a different kind of challenge.
“At Stanhope Elmore, we played 6A football against a lot of teams that are now 7A,” Foshee noted. “The speed of the game is a lot different. Bigger school, better brand of ball. They play pretty competitive football up here but there’s a big difference from 6A and 7A ball to 4A ball. But it’s still good football and we’ve got good kids.”
When asked if the difference in talent would lead to a different coaching style, Foshee admitted that speed makes up for a lot of shortcomings and a lack of speed exposes weaknesses.
“I can tell you this: The outside ‘backer is going to play a little wider and the safety is going to play a little deeper,” he joked before adding, “It’s different. We’re going to roll our sleeves up and play that physical brand of football, as physical as we can be. That’s what I’m going to try and instill in them.”