By Matthew Martin/Messenger Correspondent
Southside enters the 2013 high school football season with high expectations and the Panthers were hoping to make big news on the gridiron.
On Wednesday (Aug. 21), however, Southside made off-the-field news in at a most inopportune time.
Head football coach and athletic director Marty Smith unexpectedly turned in his resignation, leaving the Panthers in search of a coach just eight days before the season kicks off.
At a hastily called meeting later that day, the Etowah County Board of Education accepted Smith’s resignation.
ECBOE Superintendent Dr. Alan Cosby released a statement following the short meeting.
“Marty Smith has resigned his teaching and coaching positions at Southside High School effective immediately,” the statement said. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors.
“We hope to have an interim head football coach in place as soon as possible. Southside High School looks forward to the upcoming football season.”
Cosby did not answer questions and did not release any further information, such as what the school’s plans are moving forward.
As of press time, no decision has been made as to who will replace Smith in the interim. Southside had a 9-11 record in Smith’s two seasons.
While Smith’s resignation leaves many questions and concerns, Smith did tell other media outlets he was not forced to resign.
When reached by The Messenger, Southside assistant principal Chris Winningham deferred all questions to Southside principal Dr. Marguerite Early. Repeated calls by The Messenger to Early and Smith had not been returned at press time.
As of press time, a decision on Smith’s replacement had not been made.
Going into what was to be his third year with the school, Smith had seemed to turn around the team.After barely missing the state playoffs a season ago, 2103 was projected to be his best team. With 16 returning starters from last season’s squad, the Panthers seemed poised to make a run at the Class 5A, Region 7 title and the state playoffs.
Before coming to Southside, which was his first head coaching job in high school football, Smith had spent several years at Birmingham-area schools.
Smith was the head boys basketball coach at John Carroll Catholic High School for 14 seasons, winning back-to-back state championships in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.
Smith also spent time at Clay-Chalkville High School, where he was head basketball coach and an assistant football coach.
In the two years prior to being hired by Southside, Smith was with the Alabama Sports Foundation and Bruno’s Event Team.