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Jefferson hands its reins to Tucker

July 15, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - After spending 16 years as an assistant football coach at the high school and collegiate level, Donnie Lee Tucker has finally been handed the reins.

Tucker was introduced Monday as Jefferson High School's new head football coach during a news conference at the Jefferson County Board of Education. It was an emotional moment for Tucker, whose parents attended the conference.

"If there's an A to Z in the emotion range, I think I hit every one of them and some twice," Tucker said.

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"There's a little bit of apprehension because of the fear of the unknown, but we're gonna get over that. (There's) elation, because I know if (I) come here and do a good job, Jefferson will get recognition, and I want that for Jefferson."

Tucker was chosen for the position by John Brown - Jefferson's new athletic director, who was previously the AD at Damascus High School in Maryland - and approved by Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Nichols. The Jefferson County Board of Education is expected to confirm Tucker's appointment on Aug. 5.

Tucker takes over for Jay Kirby, who retired after 18 seasons as coach of the Cougars. Jefferson compiled a 68-113-1 record, including a 1-9 mark last season, under Kirby.

Tucker spent the last three seasons as an assistant at University High School, and was an assistant at Morgantown High School the five seasons prior.

Tucker had a hand in sending those teams to the West Virginia playoffs all eight years. Now he has the opportunity to put his imprints on the Cougars' program.

"It's a monumental challenge, because Jefferson's been down," Tucker said. "But that's OK, because we can get up. ... Being in the playoffs, I know what the experience is like. I can only hope to get Jefferson there."

"He's a proven leader," Brown said.

Tucker outlined his "ABC" vision for Jefferson's program, in which he stressed accountability for the players and coaches, an emphasis on the basics and a challenging but caring atmosphere.

"If you believe in a kid and you tell him he can run through a wall, he'll run through the wall," Tucker said.

"You've got to get the attitude right. I want Jefferson's kids to expect to win, and if they lose, they hurt. I want to build that attitude."

Tucker also made a plea for support from parents and the community as a whole.

"Cheer the band, cheer the cheerleaders, cheer the team, but be active and care," Tucker said. "I want to see the stands full."

Tucker has also been an assistant coach at four colleges - Fairmont State, West Virginia Wesleyan, Salem (before its football program was discontinued) and Potomac State College. He worked under current West Virginia University head coach Rich Rodriguez while at Salem and under current Berkeley Springs coach Angelo Luvara at Potomac State.

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