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Counce returns to Henry County

Counce returns to Henry County
While one veteran rural West Tennessee prep football coach is leaving his post, another is returning to his roots.
James Counce, who spent two different tenures at Dyersburg, is going back to where he began his head coaching career, having been named to that position again at Henry County High School.
The flip side of that coming-and-going equation is the decision by Crockett County head coach P.A. Pratt to give up his Cavalier duties for the assistant director of schools position in CC.
The moves will further change the coaching landscape and leaves an opening in Alamo that is expected to draw a wide range of candidates to a post that is considered among the better jobs in the area.
The 60-year-old Counce, a 1966 graduate of South Fulton High School, broke into the head coaching ranks with a 10-year stint at HCHS from 1984-93, when he posted a 74-38 worksheet.
He replaces Joe Gaddis, who resigned the Patriot post earlier this spring to take a job in North Carolina.
Counce retired twice from Dyersburg, the first time in 2006 after 12 years at the Trojan helm in which he directed D’burg to the playoffs in 10 of those seasons.
After a year as an assistant coach at Montgomery Bell Academy and following the death of his wife after a lengthy illness, Counce returned to DHS, where he went 10-3 and led the Black and Gold to the state 3A quarterfinals in 2008 before then again stepping down.
His all-time coaching record is 173-81.
Pratt is credited with building the Cavalier fortunes from the ground up and into a respected and successful rural West Tennessee.
He posted a 124-54 record at CC after having taking over a program that had previously had little or no success and went winless in his first season. Included during his tenure that included 12 playoff appearances, was a state runnerup finish in 2001.
He served as an assistant coach at Obion Central before taking the Cavalier position.
“Personally, it’s bitter-sweet for me because I know I’ll miss it and the kids and the relationships you form once the fall rolls around,” the 43-year-old Pratt told The Messenger today. “What this new position and challenge will do, though, is allow me to spend more time and nights at home with my own kids, who are 8 and 11 now.
“I’m sure it really won’t hit me until the fall though.”
Interviews for the new CCHS coach are expected to begin next week with a coach hopefully in place by the first week of May, according to Pratt.
Pratt replaces Eddie Whitby in his new administrative position, with Whitby having been elevated to the Director of Schools post.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at

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