Commentary by Charles Prince

The North Jefferson News




Oftentimes, different sports leagues will name a Player of the Week or Player of the Month. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a Principal of the Month, but if there is one, someone needs to nominate Gardendale High’s Anna Vacca for the award.

This month, she’s made two big-time hires for the Rockets’ football and boy’s basketball programs.

First, she lured college offensive coordinator Chris Fancher to Gardendale to lead the Rockets’ football program into the roughest 6A region in the state.

Then on Thursday, she landed former Mountain Brook head coach Mark Cornelius to lead the boy’s basketball team into a 6A area that features a Final Four participant from this season in Homewood.

Both coaches have a winning background and bring big school and college coaching experience with them.

The hires fly directly in the face of naysayers who are saying the Rockets can’t compete in any sport at the 6A level.

Both coaches have first hand knowledge of the challenge they’re up against.

Fancher informed me he knows the talent from all the schools in 6A, Region 6, having recruited on each of the campuses there while working at Mississippi College.

He thinks the Rockets can compete in the region and he said he’s confident he can build a 6A winner at Gardendale.

Many people have told me that the Rockets don’t have enough athletes to compete in 6A football, but Fancher isn’t thinking that way.

If anyone can do it, surely a college with experience in the college ranks can get the Rockets on the winning track in biggest of big-time high school football in the state.

If Gardendale had hired a high school coach assuming his first head coaching job, you’d probably reason he was just taking the job to get head coaching experience with little expectation of winning, but by hiring Fancher, Vacca’s stating she want’s to see winning football at Driver Stadium.

Cornelius looks like another great hire. He’s coached in the SEC at Alabama and helped the Tide to two SEC tournament titles during his time in Tuscaloosa.

Then he coached at the junior college level and then moved onto the 6A high school level.

He’s been successful at Mountain Brook, having taken the Spartans to the Final Four once and to the state playoffs on a number of occasions.

That doesn’t happen by accident. A team doesn’t get that deep in the state playoffs without great coaching.

Dr. Vacca deserves credit for hiring two top flight coaches in less than a month.

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