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Forest Park football needs some stability

Stop me if you have heard this statement issued by Forest Park High before, "Forest Park has decided to go in a different direction with its football program, and has made its head coaching football position vacant."

That was the opening paragraph of a nine sentence e-mail sent to various media outlets by Forest Park's co-athletic director John Patterson last week.

It seems just about every year or two, an administrator at the school can cut and paste or push a record button to utter those words.

Patterson explains that first-year principal Derrick Manning is passionate about athletics and wants to bring back the "rich tradition of competitiveness, stability, and achievement to football." Over the last few years, Forest Park has been anything but competitive, stable and having any achievements.

The Panthers haven't had a winning season since 2000 and have been absent from the playoffs the last 14 seasons. During that playoff drought, Forest Park has hired seven coaches.

Jajuan Wright filled in this season after Nick Mrvos was not offered a teaching contract because of system-wide budget cuts. In the midst of spring practice, Mrvos was informed that his services were no longer needed.

Mrvos was replacing Rod Perrymond, an inexperienced coach that could only produce three wins in two years. Wright's team won one game on the field and was rewarded another victory through a forfeit from Mount Zion.

As Forest Park High's CEO, Manning has every right to replace and hire a new coach.

In this case, Manning has to make the right hire if he wants to bring back " competitiveness, stability, and achievement to football" at the school. This time next year, the school can't afford to send out another e-mail about it " has decided to go in a different direction with its football program."

The incoming freshmen class deserves to finish their career with the same coach that they started it with. This will be Manning's most important and biggest athletic hire in his short time at the school.

It has to be the right decision.

Patterson's e-mail said that Manning has "a multi-year plan, which will begin with bringing in an experienced football head coach and staff." That sounds like he is on the right track. He just has to stick with that decision at least over a four-year period so the new coach can develop a program and establish some stability.

It's simple: Pick a coach and stick with him.

Forest Park will likely struggle during the new coaching staff's first couple years as they build a foundation, but patience will be of up most importance in trying to rebuild a program that has produced 41 all-state players, seven region titles and a state championship.

The decision has been made to go in a new direction, now the Forest Park administrators have to follow it through.

In other words, no more " different direction with its football program" e-mails, at least for few seasons.

Derrick Mahone covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Herald Daily Herald. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.