January 14, 2018 12:04:31 AM
Randal Montgomery's emotions were intense when he was informed he wouldn't return as Columbus High School football coach.
Montgomery had invested four years in tanking the Falcons from Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A lightweight to playoff contender.
However, superintendent Philip Hickman told Montgomery a couple of days after the season ended he wouldn't have a fifth year as the school's coach.
"One of the lowest points in my professional career," Montgomery said. "That should at least tell you why they don't want you back. They should tell you why it is not working out. It worked out. You can say I am lucky."
Montgomery's removal still hasn't officially been approved by the Columbus Municipal School District. In the meanwhile, Montgomery took that decision out of the district's hands when he was chosen
Friday as an offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting at Louisville High.
Longtime Louisville coach M.C. Miller will retire following the 2018 season. Montgomery will become head coach when that season ends. Both coaches spoke to the Louisville High football players Friday afternoon.
"It's a great time for this," said Miller, who is from Louisville. "Forty-five years in the coaching profession is a long time. Football is something I love. To have a chance to impact so many young people has made this very rewarding."
Miller led Noxubee County to the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State title in 2008 and Louisville to the MHSAA Class 3A State title in 2013. The Wildcats won all 16 games in 2013.
In 2017, Louisville finished 13-3, falling to Noxubee County in the MHSAA Class 4A North State championship game. The 2018 season will be Miller's ninth with the Wildcats.
In 2017, Montgomery's final Columbus team finished 2-9. The Falcons lost their final six games after making back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016. It was the second time Columbus achieved that feat in program history.
Montgomery was 20-26 in four seasons with Columbus. Prior to that, he led Hazlehurst to three-straight appearances in the MHSAA Class 3A state championship game. Hazlehurst won the title in 2012.
"I am very excited," Montgomery said. "It's not every day you get to follow a legend. This is a championship program, so it's just a matter of upholding that tradition. They have won a lot of games here, so at this time in my coaching career it is exciting to be working with an established program."
Quarterback C.J. Gholar is at East Mississippi Community College after playing on both of Montgomery's playoff teams at Columbus.
"He was a great leader," Gholar said. "He did a great job of motivating us and giving us a chance to win each Friday night. Columbus does not have a lot of tradition, so it was hard to learn how to win. It was hard to have that expectation you are going to win.
"He is a successful coach, so he made you believe that you were going to play on that high level and have a chance."
Miller coached Noxubee County for 30 seasons before taking over at Louisville. The schools have built quite a rivalry with former Miller assistant Tyrone Shorter taking over at Noxubee County. Many of the games have counted in the region standings. None were bigger than the North State championship game this past season.
"Going to miss the Friday nights," Miller said. "Players put in a lot of hard work to get ready for the season. Coaches do that, too. The hard work you won't miss. The Friday nights you will miss."
Montgomery is eager to learn. This year, he will take notes from one of the state's coaching legends.
"This will be a great year of learning," Montgomery said. "When you get around the veteran coaches, they always have wisdom to share. This is a unique opportunity."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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