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Experience best teacher in revamped Tornado grid staff

Experience best teacher in revamped Tornado grid staff
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
If experience is indeed the best teacher, the Union City High School football program should be bracing for a higher form of gridiron education.
And it should spill over from the field into the classroom, too.
The Tornado coaching staff has gotten older — and certainly more seasoned — with the hiring of three veteran coaches to assist Darren Bowling, including former University of Memphis offensive line coach Ricke Mallory, who has been appointed assistant head coach by UCHS Principal/Athletic Director Wes Kennedy.
The 51-year-old Mallory, who played five years in the National Football League and most recently served as the offensive line coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, will join John Diehl — a veteran coach/administrator with extensive experience in both Florida and New York — and Wade Maddox, the defensive coordinator at West Carroll the last three years, to fill out Bowling’s made-over staff.
The trio will fill the vacancies left by the departures of young 20-something assistants Morgan Cruce (Gibson County head coach) and Cole Clanton (McKenzie assistant).
Mallory, who played at the University of Washington and then with Tampa Bay from 1983-87 before spending 18 years as an assistant coach at Washington, Memphis, Wyoming and UAB, is the most noted of the new Union City hires as far as name recognition.
His linemen at Memphis helped pave the way for star running backs DeAngelo Williams and Curtis Steele and he was part of a staff that directed the Tigers to five bowl games in his 10 seasons there.
A friend and churchmate of Kennedy when both resided in the Bluff City, Mallory said he’d tired of the college game and lifestyle of an assistant coach at that level and is looking forward to making Union City home for him and his family. Kennedy’s persistence helped him make up his mind, too.
“Wes has been after me for the past couple of years and I have no doubt the timing is right for me to make this transition in my career,” Mallory told The Messenger. “Wes is a good person with strong family and faith values, and he values loyalty. Those things are very important to me.
“The last couple of years (in the college game) really wore on me and it’s not conducive to helping raise a family. The way the college game is handled on the business side has really affected my thinking as well. In college, you have one bad year or if a booster comes along and has big money or influence to thrown around, you can be gone. There is little, if any, stability there.
“Loyalty has gone out the window. And there comes a point to where enough is enough when you are an assistant.”
Mallory, too, said he longed to have a lasting impact on the lives of young people whose only experience with the game might come on the high school level.
“The biggest influence on my life after my father was my high school football coach,” he continued. He was tough and demanding but, at the end of the day, I knew he cared about me and loved me. I’ve always been grateful to him for teaching me the game, which has a lot of life lessons.
“I want to have that type of effect on young people. I really enjoy teaching kids.”
His background and field of expertise coaching offensive lineman appears to be a perfect fit for the midline/veer running scheme of Bowling.
“I love Coach Bowling and he does things the right way,” continued Mallory, who actually was a guest speaker during a playoff dinner in UC’s 2009 march to the Class 1A state championship. “We’re a lot alike in that he believes the game is won by the kids and not the coaches, and by fundamentals, not gimmicks.
“We both know that blocking and tackling and ball-security are the keys to success. We won’t lose by trying to do too much. We’ll be basic and solid and, like Coach Bowling, I want us to knock people off the ball up front. When we suck them up on defense, we can throw it over the top of them. Being able to run the ball always will give you the chance to succeed.”
Bowling is admittedly excited about his staff makeover.
“All three of these coaches are excellent additons to the staff,” the UC skipper said. “We wanted to go out and find some guys with some experience to replace the ones we had who left, and we hit the jackpot.
“You just don’t find staffs like this much anymore.”
Kennedy did not hide his pleasure at being able to bring aboard the three new coaches/teachers as well.
“I think it is as good a high school coaching staff in America,” Kennedy said. “(UC Director of Schools) Mr. (Gary) Houston has always relayed to me that “character trumps everything” and that is the approach that we always take in hiring teachers and coaches. I feel that UCHS students are some of the best students in the country and they deserve to be taught and coached by the best.
“The faculty at UCHS is the best and hardest working faculty that I have ever seen. It is comprised of men and women of honor and integrity and the addition of John Diehl in the history department, Wade Maddox in the science department and Ricke Mallory taking over the political science department will certainly add to our already great faculty.
“Coach Mallory is a man of character who loves teaching and coaching young people. Having had the opportunity on many occasions to be in his home as friends for 10 years, I can attest to the fact that he is and strives to be a good husband and father. This is the kind of people we want.”
Mallory and wife Shannon have been married for 31 years and are the parents of three grown sons and three adopted daughters, ages 8, 5 and 1.
Diehl has 30 years of experience as both a football and baseball coach in various stops in both Florida and New York. He began his duties at UCHS in January and has worked with the football team during its offseason program.
Maddox — in addition to being the top assistant on Josh Fronabarger’s football staff — is also currently the head baseball coach at West Carroll.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 4.10.12

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