File photo by Dillon Day
Markeith Washington (far right) gives some instructions to the Cardinals during a game last season as interim head coach.

Markeith Washington

Washington takes reins of Potts Camp football

Markeith Washington is ready to stop the football coaching carousel at Potts Camp High School.

The assistant principal tackled the role of interim head coach in July, filling a sudden vacancy just a week before the start of preseason practice. And after a recent talk with principal Luke Tentoni, the decision was made to take away the interim and turn to Washington to reconstruct the Cardinal football program.

“For our school and our kids, it’s the right thing to do,” Washington said. “I spent a year with these kids, and I feel like it’s the best situation for them.”

Coach Shane Stone started the Potts Camp football program from scratch in 2009 and stayed five seasons, including a 9-1 campaign in 2012.

The Cardinals had new head coaches in both 2014 and 2015 and then one hired for 2016 exited before ever coaching a game.

“There’s been a constant change in coaches, and that’s not good for any program,” Washington said. “It’s time for some stability as far as football at Potts Camp.”

Washington coached at Byhalia four seasons, going from no wins in 2008 to a playoff berth and a 6-6 record in 2011. He left there to go into administration at Potts Camp in 2012.

He emphasized that he will still be an administrator first at Potts Camp.

“But I’ve always had a love for football,” Washington said. “I enjoy being a football coach and touching lives through football.”

The Cards finished 3-7 this past season but “showed a lot of progress,” he said. That team included only two seniors – Miguel Arredondo and Gavin Kearney.

“We had to teach blocking and tackling and build a foundation for football,” he said. “We had some injuries that set us back, but the guys kept giving maximum effort.”

Ben Shaw made the move to quarterback after Jacob Harrill was injured. Both will return next season.

“We will have the luxury of two guys with experience back there,” Washington said,

“And we use both at receiver also.”

Later on in the season, Potts Camp also established an identity offensively, too.

“We will be a pass heavy team,” he said. “We will throw until we can’t throw anymore. We played around with that at the end of the season, and we had success with it.

“As a coaching staff, you have to adjust to your personnel. We realized toward the end of the year that we needed to be heavy on passing.”

The Cardinals will drop from Class 2A to Class 1A next season. That will mean eight district games in Region 1. Those opponents are Ashland, Biggersville, Falkner, Okolona, H.W. Byers, Smithville, Thrasher and Tupelo Christian.

“It will be a very tough 1A division, but we are fine with that,” Washington said. “It will give us an opportunity to rebuild our program and be competitive, too. It’s going to be really fun - exciting.”

He hopes to get more players suiting up for the Cardinals. He had an interest meeting recent and 50 (eighth through 11th graders) were in attendance.

“It’s time to build a football program at Potts Camp,” he said. “We need numbers - that’s our number one goal. We will be calling parents and knocking on doors, letting them know we care and we need their help.

“We want an entire football program - not just at the high school level. All of our coaching staff will be involved from peewee to junior high to high school.

“And we will all run the same system. We have to create a program. It’s not a quick fix.”

Holly Springs South Reporter

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