Bowling returning to coach UC football
By: By MIKE HUTCHENS Messenger Sports Editor
Darren Bowling will be “home” for Christmas.
Having left Obion County for Dyersburg with mixed emotions earlier this year, Bowling is now set to return to his adopted home after being named the new head football coach at Union City High School.
Bowling, who spent four seasons at Obion County Central prior to succeeding James Counce at Dyersburg last January, was chosen from a field of around 25 applicants — many like him, with either previous or current ties to the area. He will replace Jimmy Fishel, who will not return to the Tornado helm after five years in that capacity and 16 seasons as an assistant before that.
Bowling will bring along top assistant and defensive coordinator Wes Kennedy from his Trojan staff to serve in a similar role at Union City. Kennedy previously was the head coach at Fayette Academy for nine years prior to joining Bowling at D’burg and served as head coach for one season and an assistant six years at Millington before that (See related story, Page 8).
Unlike the situation when Bowling somewhat reluctantly took the Dyersburg position — essentially as Counce’s hand-picked successor — following his four-year stint at OCCHS, this time the new Union City skipper has no such torn feelings about leaving one job for another.
“It’s not like when I left Obion County for Dyersburg. I felt like I was leaving home then. Although I wouldn’t trade my year at Dyersburg for anything, I feel like I’m coming back home now,” Bowling told The Messenger.
“When I brought my family here from Louisiana, my wife and I were looking for a place to raise our children and our grandchildren and a community to call home.
“Obion County has been that place. We lived in Union City when we first moved here, and we formed a great number of friendships and relationships. This is where I want to make the homestead for my family. I would not have left Dyersburg for any place other than Union City.”
The 40-year-old Bowling, who led the Rebels to the school’s only playoff victory in his first year at OCCHS and went 10-2 this past season at D’burg, was a frontrunner for the Union City job almost immediately when it became vacant.
Both visible and popular in the community and with his players while a resident and employee of Obion County, he continued personal and professional ties to Union City and his wife Dawn maintained a successful business — Second Glance consignment shop.
“It is the people of Union City, the relationships that we established here the four years I was at Obion Central and the supporters of the Union City School System and the athletic program that really make the job attractive,” said Bowling, who was hired to replace Chris Hill at Obion Central in the spring of 2003.
“I feel like Union City has always had an aura of classiness and high expectations. I’m looking forward to the challenge and opportunity to take the football program to a high level that is expected of it. I want to restore the pride and the tradition that it once had, and I can’t wait to get started with our offseason workouts and to meet the kids and their families.”
UCHS Principal Barry Duncan spearheaded the hiring process that netted both Bowling and Kennedy and was admittedly pleased to land men of both quality character and gridiron success.
“I feel so very fortunate that we were able to bring two people and coaches the caliber of Darren and Wes into our school system and our community,” said Duncan, himself a former assistant football coach. “In one series of hirings, we’ve added to our faculty and staff a number of years of successful head coaching experience as well as two good school people who have great character qualities.
“We’ll fill so many of our needs in our school system, our football program and our community, I don’t see how anyone cannot be excited about the addition of these two hirings.”
Bowling, who will also coach track at Union City, has a 107-62 overall record in 15 football seasons. His teams have had winning records in 12 of those campaigns and his coaching stops have included Greeneville (Miss.) Christian and Silliman (La.) Institute, in addition to Indianola (Miss.) Academy, Obion Central and Dyersburg.
Two of his clubs at Indianola reached the state semifinals, and his best club at Greeneville played in the 1993 state championship game.
Bowling plans on meeting with the team Monday to outline the team’s offseason workout and agility schedule. He will also interview present assistant coaches to determine their future roles with the program.
The Bowlings have four children, son Chase, a 15-year old freshman; 7-year-old twins Taylor and Tyler; and special-needs daughter Meri-Morgan, 11. Dawn’s mother, Thelma, also is a treasured member of the household.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger on 12.14.07
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