High School Sports

A struggling Coast football program aims to find the right man to turn things around

West Harrison football coach Tracy Rogers has words with the referee while competing against Vancleave on Aug. 25 at West Harrison High. Rogers has stepped down as the Hurricanes' head coach.
West Harrison football coach Tracy Rogers has words with the referee while competing against Vancleave on Aug. 25 at West Harrison High. Rogers has stepped down as the Hurricanes' head coach. amccoy@sunherald.com file

In search of its third head football coach in the last four years, West Harrison is hoping to find the right man to turn around its struggling program.

Tracy Rogers stepped down Thursday as the Hurricanes' head coach after going 2-20 in two seasons, leaving the Harrison County School District to find a new coach in the middle of spring practice.

“Tracy got the numbers up for the program, but it still didn't meet his or our expectations,” Harrison County School District athletic director Bobby Trosclair said. “I think he's probably doing the right thing for his family.”

Otis Gates, who also serves as the girls basketball head coach, has taken over the job on an interim basis.

West Harrison High School, which was established in 2008, played its first season of football as a Class 5A program in 2009. The Hurricanes have never finished with a winning record and have had four winless seasons.

When Rogers took over the program prior to the 2016 season, there were only 36 players on the roster. Trosclair said that number improved to 70 under the coach's watch.

“It's a good place and a good school,” Trosclair said. “The feeder program doesn't exactly set up for the best situation. There's no true feeder program. Those kids are split after junior high and the numbers haven't been there for West Harrison in football.”

The middle schools at West Wortham and North Gulfport send students to Harrison Central and West Harrison, meaning both junior high football programs are split up the moment they finish the eighth grade. That creates a less than ideal situation for both football programs with the Hurricanes often coming up with the short end of the stick.

West Harrison didn't have enough players to field a ninth grade team for the 2017 season.

Even with its struggles, Trosclair has been impressed with the number of candidates who have applied for the job.

“We've had a lot of turnout for applicants,” he said. “I didn't know we'd get that this time around with the timing and the quickness of it.”

Trosclair said the initial plan was to “fast track” the hiring process, but it seems more likely that it will take a couple of weeks to have a coach in place.

“We're going to look at the applicant pool and do the best we can do,” he said.

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