By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
There are two words that keep coming into play when talking about Drew Noles – community and character.
“(In the interview process), he said he doesn’t want to teach the kids only football skills but also teach them to be quality young men and leaders in the community,” Etowah High principal John Serafini said. “It was a very tough choice because we had some very good applicants.
“We interviewed about 20 coaches, and then narrowed it down to five, then down to two. In the end, we decided that Coach Noles seemed like he would make the best fit.”
Noles was hired last week to be the next football coach for Etowah, replacing Sam McCorkle who led the Blue Devils to a 27-17 record and three state playoff appearances in four seasons.
Noles comes from Boaz High, where he has been head football coach since 2000.
“An alumnus of Boaz, Noles has spent 22 seasons total coaching the Pirates.
“As a coach, there are certain jobs you keep an eye on, to apply for when there’s an opening,” Noles said. “Etowah is one of those football programs that any coach would be thrilled to coach. And the community support has always been great. I’m going to a tradition-rich school that has as good of athletes and program as any school around.”
Noles also said that football shouldn’t be the only thing a football coach does.
“I want the team to be the flag-bearers for Attalla, of course,” he said. “But I want to be involved with the faculty and with the community.
“I would love for the community to feel that they’re a part of this football team.”
At this point, Noles is still learning the ropes and faces at Etowah. But he should have no troubles knowing the team, as the Blue Devils and Pirates are Class 5A, Region 7 mates and have played each other nine times during Noles’ tenure. For the other years, Boaz was a 4A school.
Noles was very successful on the field at Boaz. His teams had 80 wins against 63 losses. He took the Pirates to the state playoffs eight times in 13 seasons. In 2003, Boaz completed its first 11-win season in history.
In contrast, the previous 13 seasons saw Boaz compile a 47-86 record with only three playoff appearances – and no postseason victories.
More important than wins and losses, the Pirates had five head coaches during that period, compared to only Noles for the last 13 years.
“I don’t want to only be a football coach, I want to be involved in the entire school community and the community of Attalla,” said Noles. “We want to be able to have a positive impact on this school. We’re going to do the things we feel like will make us successful, and we’re going to work on building character in these men.”
Shannon J. Allen of the Sand Mountain Reporter contributed to this story.