Manchester has done everything else well in high school football the last half-century.
The only exception was following the 1984 season.
District administration officials – so foolishly so – made Jim France step down as head coach when he was promoted to school principal because it was thought it was a bit much to expect him to both jobs well at once. So, they had to hire his coaching replacement, and to say the end result did not go well would be, in 20/20 hindsight, looking at it through rose-colored glasses.
We’re not going to mention any names so as to keep from throwing them under the bus – you can research it or ask around if you’re really that interested – but the Panthers, after a string of great seasons under France, went just 2-8 in 1985 and the players got so frustrated that a good number of them ultimately quit.
Other than that, everything went just fine.
The situation got so bad, in fact, that those same district admin officials begged France to return, which he agreed to do for the 1986 season, continuing the winning through 2019, after which he has decided to get out on his own terms. Funny how they thought he could actually do both jobs after steadfastly maintaining he could not. A little losing goes a long way, and a lot goes even further.
Those officials are all gone but now, all these years later, Manchester needs to hire another head football coach. And this time, there is no back-up plan, because France isn’t coming back for any reason. He’s done, for good.
It is obviously a huge hire. Manchester has long been a football community, even before France arrived. The guy who preceded him for 25 years dating all the way back to 1946, Swede Olsson, did a great job, too.
Plus, Manchester will, in several years, or thereabouts, be moving into a brand-new high school and what amounts to a brand-new stadium. The program certainly can’t be struggling when that occurs.
So, then, the people making the decisions have to get this right – not just kinda right, sorta right, mostly right or pretty much right. They’ve got to get it right-on-target, right in the middle-of-the-bullseye right.
I have the confidence that they will.