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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Wilson makes midseason coaching change

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  • WILSON — A tough decision was made leading up to Wilson's home football game against Bray-Doyle last week. Head coach Warren Butler was replaced by superintendent Eric Smith for the remainder of the season. Butler remains on staff as a teacher. “It was just administrative differences on what we're trying to accomplish here and the direction I feel this school district needs to go,” Smith said. Over the first seven games of the season, the Eagles were called for numerous penalties, with some ejected from games. “There were 28 unsportsmanlike penalties in the first seven games, and we had four players ejected,” Smith said. “We're trying to run a class act program here. That's not what I expect.” The players ejected and called for unsportsmanlike penalties did not face disciplinary action under Butler. “The players were not disciplined by the football team,” Smith said. “I have no hard feelings or anything against coach Butler. He's a good coach. I think he does good things for the kids. I can't say enough about him, and I wish him the best. I just don't think he was the right fit here. We needed to make a change.” Butler and his staff were urged to address the discipline problem in the weeks leading up to the move to change coaches. “My administration staff, with coach Gary Labeth, he's the offensive coordinator (and athletic director),” Smith said. “We pulled the coaching staff in three or four weeks ago and let them know that we needed some changes made. Things needed to change. It wasn't like a spur of the moment thing.” Community reaction to the move has been mixed, with some pointing at the success Butler had building up the program. “I disagree with the change,” Wilson resident Garren Gray said. “Butler got the program from 15 players up to 33. He's an excellent coach and stuck up for his players, staff and team and put them first.” The Eagles beat Bray-Doyle 56-26 on Friday and didn't commit any unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Bray-Doyle lacked the players to field an 11-man team, so the coaches chose to play an eight-man game. “The kids played hard and came out and played well,” Smith said. “It's been tough. It's never an administrator's dream to come in and take over a football program.” Smith has coached football at several different levels and was comfortable with the eight-man set up. “It wasn't too much of an adjustment for me,” he said. “It was more for the kids.” Smith said the program is trying to move forward and do what's best for the players. “I don't know the last time a Wilson football team put up 56 points in a ball game,” Smith said. “The (kids) are responding well. It's tough on them. Coach Butler is well liked, he's well liked in the community. I don't have anything bad to say about him. It was just a difference in administrative opinion and what needed to happen.”

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