By Chris McCarthy/Editor
After seven years at Westbrook Christian, Seth Ford is taking his talents from Rainbow City to Ashville.
Ford resigned as Westbrook boys basketball coach on May 18 to take the same position at Ashville High while teaching Driver Ed.
“When the opportunity became available, I definitely did a lot of thinking and praying on it,” said Ford. “I went to school there, and my wife Tiffany works for the St. Clair County Board of Education, so there was definitely a connection.
I loved my time at Westbrook and built a lot of great relationships, but ultimately I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go back home plus be in the same [school] system as my wife. It was a family decision that we felt the Lord was leading us to make.”
“In his seven seasons at WCS, Ford guided the Warriors to an overall record of 127-65. In each of the past three years, Westbrook won its area tournament and made it to the Class 2A Northeast Regional Tournament.
Ford said that a flood of memories hit him when he walked through the AHS doors last week.
“I spent three great years there, both as a student and playing ball. It really felt like I was back home. I’m really exciting about the opportunity.”
Ford recently had a face-to-face with his former Westbrook to wish them goodbye, as well as a meet-and-greet with his future Ashville players.
“It was hard, but I think [the Westbrook] players understood. We hugged each other and I told them that I’d be their biggest fan. I wish nothing but great things for them.
“We’ve already had tryouts at Ashville and we’re going to camp next week, so it’s already full speed ahead. I’m going from coaching one great group of kids to coaching another great group of kids, so you can’t ask for anything better.”
A 2004 AHS graduate, Ford played three years for the Bulldog varsity basketball team, winning area titles his sophomore and senior years and the county championship his junior year. Ashville went 70-19 with Ford on the roster.
Ford is planning to bring his run-and-gun style to Ashville.
“Obviously you have to tweak some things according to what players you have, but we’ll still push the ball upcourt and press on defense. That’s the style I like coaching, so we’ll continue it for sure.”
Ford will be seeing Westbrook quite a bit during the 2015-16 season, as the Warriors and Bulldogs are both members of Class 3A, Area 11 along with Glencoe and Ohatchee.
Former longtime Glencoe boys basketball coach Donny Pruitt was named to replace Ford on May 19. Pruitt, who had been teaching in Georgia since leaving Glencoe 13 years ago, said that he did not anticipate coaching high school again. He had been teaching advanced science classes at Westbrook for the past year, however, and Ford’s departure opened an unexpected door.
“When this job became available, I felt like the Lord was leading me in a new direction. The biggest thing right now is the adjustment period when a new coach comes in. I’ll work on getting my schemes in. There’s quite a few similarities with what Coach Ford did and what I do, so that helps out a good bit.”
Pruitt certainly has the experience and success to run a top-flight program. As GHS coach from 1990-2002, he posted an overall record of 252-91, averaging 21 wins a season. His teams won a record eight consecutive Etowah County Basketball Tournament championships from 1993-2000, eight straight area championships from 1994-2001 and won 20 or more games every year from 1993-2002.
Pruitt’s Yellow jackets were the only boys basketball team that played in the Northeast Regional Tournament for its first seven years from 1994-200 and eight of the tournament’s initial nine years from 1994-2002.
Up until 2002, the Glencoe boys won more Northeast Regional Tournament games (10), played in more regional games (15) and played in more regional finals (seven) than any other basketball team in the state. In addition, Pruitt’s teams were ranked in the state top 10 from 1992-2002. Pruitt was selected as Etowah County Coach of the Year in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002. He was named Class 4A Coach of the Year in 2000.
Pruitt coached the North Team in the Alabama High School Athletic Association North-South All-Star Basketball Game in 2000 and was inducted into the Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
“The most important thing right now is getting the kids adjusting o our program,” he said. “I also know the boys in the higher grades pretty well. They’re all good students and fine young men. I just want to thank Coach Kennedy and Mrs. Greer for giving me this opportunity.”
WCS assistant principal, athletic director and head baseball coach Matt Kennedy felt that Pruitt was more than capable to taking the reigns from Ford.
“Seth elevated our program and took it to a level that we hadn’t experienced her in a long time. But more importantly, Seth is a man of character and he expects his players to be the same. It’s those good character traits that will one day make them good men.
“I think that Donny will be the same way and be another great mentor to these kids. I also think he still has the passion, and our kids will respond to that.”