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Eagles Plott new course with new coach

February 06, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. -- Following approval on Monday night at the Berkeley County School Board meeting, Paul Plott was introduced as the new head football coach at Hedgesville High School on Tuesday.

School principal Don Dellinger, himself a former Eagles football coach, made the announcement that Plott, 52, would succeed Dave Lopez, who resigned following the 2007 season.

"We had 19 applicants and it was a long search because we had to tie in the coaching position with a teaching position," said Dellinger. "We were overwhelmed with the response and the quality of the candidates. We wanted a coach that can get the program back to having pride. I have nothing against (Coach Lopez), he was a good coach, a good person, but it didn't translate to wins on the field and that hurt at the gate."

Plott, who will be a guidance counselor, has familiarity with Hedgesville, having spent the past two seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Martinsburg High School under David Walker, helping the Bulldogs to the West Virginia Class AAA playoffs in each of the past two seasons, including the state title game in 2006.

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"I knew when he came in he would probably try to get another head coaching position," Walker said. "If you've been a head coach before, and especially if you've had success, you want to try to get back in that capacity."

He also has a wealth of experience, with 30 years' coaching as an assistant and head coach.

Plott's most recent stint as a head coach was at Central Dauphin (Pa.), a Mid-Penn Conference member, for four seasons before moving to Inwood, W.Va., and becoming part of the Martinsburg staff. He was an assistant for six years at Hayfields in Fairfax, Va., and a head coach for three years each at Wicomico (Md.) and Potomac (Va.) high schools.

"On film, I've seen there's a lot of good kids at Hedgesville," said Plott. "Sometimes they didn't get all the breaks. I went after this position because I saw a lot of heart on film. The school has good athletics and I wanted to get the football program in the right direction."

The hill to climb in returning such pride will be a tough hike. Hedgesville has won only 14 games in the past five seasons and has not had a winning season since 1997, when it went 10-3 and advanced to the state semifinals.

"I've learned from many good people and I've been fortunate to have coached many good players," said Plott. "I'll go into the season thinking we are going to go 14-0. I've already put a sign over the locker to be 'better than yesterday.'"

Walker sees that experience as a huge upside for the Eagles.

"He's been around, and been around the game a long time," Walker said. "Just his lifetime of experience around coaching is going to help make them better."

Plott sees himself as a middle-of-the-road coach in terms of personality.

"I'm in the middle, being an X's and O's type of coach, and don't consider myself a screamer," said Plott. "My philosophy is to be disciplined, work on the fundamentals and play four quarters."

Plott was a running back and linebacker in high school at Lexington (Va.) and went on to play at Georgia Southern.

Dellinger said the manhunt whittled from the original 19 down to 12, then became intense.

"We got the list down to eight, and after further interviews, went down to four and then we had the final interviews," said Dellinger.

"What stands out about (Paul) is from his reference checks," he said. " Everywhere we checked, the word 'energetic' kept popping up as a teacher and then as a coach. He has had programs to rebuild and he has programs that were a success and he left them that way. We felt he is a person for the kids."

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