Thursday, December 31, 2009
Holly High selects new coach
By BARRY BURLESON
Marcus Autry has been fortunate enough to be a part of tradition-rich football programs.
Most recently, he worked as assistant football coach, assistant athletic director and head track coach at Olive Branch High School for four years. Prior to that he was on the staffs at Louisville and Philadelphia.
“Those programs gave me my foundation to help me build a successful program of my own,” Autry said.
He will get that opportunity at Holly Springs High School. He was recently named the new head coach of the Hawks.
“The main reason I’m here is because I enjoy working with young people,” Autry said. “I felt this would be an excellent place for me to get a fresh start. There are a lot of talented athletes in Holly Springs.
“Building a successful program starts from within – with the athletes – plus we need the administrative support and the support of the parents and community. Getting all that going in the right direction is how we built our success at Olive Branch (under head coach Scott Samsel).”
Autry, after graduating from Pontotoc High School, played football at Auburn University and also one year at Alabama State in Montgomery. He has a B.S. degree from Auburn, a master’s from Jackson State and a specialist degree from Union University.
He said two of his high school coaches, Jimmy Mitchell and Bill Murphy, helped him land his first coaching job.
“Your first dream out of college is going to the NFL,” Autry said. “When that dream didn’t happen, you suddenly think – ‘what am I going to do?’
“They (Mitchell and Murphy) helped me pick up the pieces and go on. They influenced me to go into coaching.”
He found out about the vacant Holly High job through an advertisement on the Mississippi High School Activities Association website.
“I thought I’d stay at Olive Branch,” Autry said. “Everything was going good. But I’d always wanted to become a head coach.
“I applied and talked to Mr. (Cedric) Richardson (Holly High principal) and fortunately I got hired. It all worked out for the best.”
His wife Pashen is employed at Olive Branch Middle School and is also continuing her education. They have a son, Isaiah, 3.
Olive Branch, a 6A school, has outstanding football facilities – “better than some junior colleges,” Autry said.
But he’s upbeat about what he has to work with at 3A Holly Springs.
“Facilities don’t make or break a team,” he said. “The key is the players themselves – their hard work and determination.
“We going to upgrade our facilities, but that won’t be the deciding factor in how the football season is going to go or how good this team is going to be.
“We have the basic tools we need here to succeed. There’s a good base here. The kids have to get in there and be dedicated to working hard.”
Autry is looking forward to January, when he will start working with the Hawks. He is also in the process, with Richardson’s help, of putting together a coaching staff.
“We will be coming in and doing winter conditioning and speed development,” he said, “which will lead into spring training. We will be doing a lot of evaluating from January through April.
“The main things this spring are building confidence and getting stronger.”
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