| NEWS Rush Propst to Pell City High

It Takes Eleven

Quoth the Raven...

I thought he'd just fade away. Now he's right down the road.

PELL CITY — There are a lot of numbers you can look at when discussing Rush Propst’s success on the football field.

More than 300 career wins, some of which were later vacated, dropping him just under that 300-win milestone, and seven state championships spring to mind. In so many ways, Propst made his name at Hoover when he went 110-16 over a nine-year stretch that included five of his titles.

But Propst didn’t want to focus on any of that during his introduction as Pell City’s football coach on Friday morning.

Instead, the numbers he highlighted included:

—256 former players signed college scholarships to play football.

—In six straight years during his time in Georgia, every single senior starter signed a football scholarship.

—35 of his former assistants earned jobs coaching in the college ranks and another one is now coaching in the NFL.

—Three of those assistants became head coaches.

The one number Propst said he wouldn’t discuss is how many games the Panthers will win under his watch.

“I don’t talk about winning seasons, either,” Propst said. “I don’t talk about goals. There is only one goal in football. One goal in football on the field. There are a lot of (off-the-field) goals, but there is only one goal on the field, and that is to be a state champion. Period. And that is the only thing you will hear me talk about. When will it happen, I don’t know, I can’t tell you that.”

The ultimate challenge

Pell City has never won a state football championship.

According to online records from the Alabama High School Football Historical Society, Pell City hasn’t won a playoff game since 2012. That’s also the last time the Panthers topped six wins. They finished 7-5 with a loss in the second round.

“Just the ultimate challenge,” Propst said. “I think it's probably one of the greatest challenges of my life. … Every place I’ve been has been down when I got there. I hadn’t stepped into but one place that had a winning program when I got there. Valdosta had a winning program, but the rest of them, they weren’t just losing programs. They were 2-8, 3-7 type deals for a long extended time.”

That’s certainly the case for Pell City. The Panthers went 1-9 last year under first-year coach Steve Mask, who decided to chase his fifth career state football title at Theodore instead of remaining at Pell City.

The Panthers are 11-37 during the last five years, which is a big reason the school seems like the perfect fit for Propst.

“Great example, the Piedmont job became available,” Propst said. “I am living in Piedmont. Won five state titles since ’09. I’m not saying I could have got the job, but I didn’t apply for that job. Why? Because Steve Smith had had major success there. They just went to back-to-back state title (games) in the last two years I’ve been there, winning one and losing one.

“I didn’t want to step into that, and I didn’t feel the gratification. At Valdosta we go to the semifinals and lose to Beauford, who won the state title. I didn’t feel the gratification at Valdosta because Valdosta was having success. I took the job for all the wrong reasons. It is the only job I’ve ever taken that they were having success.”

Enter a Pell City program that has won 10 games only six times before, with the last such season coming in 2005.

Pell City’s new coach quickly dismisses the idea that his arrival will result in any sort of quick fix to the Panthers' ails. Propst said the first season would be a success if the Panthers compete with their opponents in the fall, regardless of what the scoreboard says at the end.

“I know we open with Moody and Leeds and Clay-Chalkville, which is a brutal, brutal test right off the bat,” Propst said.

Still, Propst isn’t too humble to refer to himself as a trendsetter both schematically and off the field in the form of nutrition and technology. With his record of success, Propst hopes to attract plenty of attention.

“I know in today’s world that transfers are there,” Propst said. “And I want to make this place to where people want to come here. That is a big plus moving forward for us.”

A new day

During Friday’s introduction, at least four videographers and two other reporters were there to capture what Pell City leaders hoped was a hire for the history books.

Interim co-athletics director Jennifer Lee wasn’t shy when asked about the significance of Friday’s event.

“I think it is incredible because I’ve been here 14 years, and the whole time we’ve tried to vie for publicity for the kids, and we couldn’t get it,” Lee said. “Your newspaper (The Daily Home and St. Clair Times) is one of the few that will cover us, and now maybe the kids will start to get some attention.”

Lee elaborated further when asked what media coverage has to do with success on the field.

“So much of today is based on social media and whatnot, and when all our kids see all these other schools getting the attention, and they aren’t getting any, they start to feel beatdown, to be honest,” Lee said. “Because it is a lot of hard work, and there needs to be some reward in it for the kids, and that is where I think he is going to be a really good hire.”

As for Propst’s potential, Lee practically shouted that when she addressed the auditorium from the podium.

“I think there is no question that he knows football,” Lee said. “He should be in the hall of fame, and we’re going to try and get him there.”
One thing you can say positively is that the guy can coach, he has proven that over time. Of course, it helps to have players that can play as well and he has had that through the years. On the negative side, well we all know...
One thing you can say positively is that the guy can coach, he has proven that over time. Of course, it helps to have players that can play as well and he has had that through the years. On the negative side, well we all know...
Yeah, he'll recruit and some parents will want to send their kids down the road to play for him in hopes of getting a scholly, but that's a hollow proposition.
Pell City will be competitive in the next 3-4 years, BUT they will suffer some type of embarrassment along the way as well. Propst can coach, but the guy is a walking billboard for scandal!!!
I’ve told the stories before about him and the baggage that comes with him. He got arrested for stealing golf balls out of water hazards when he was HC at Ashville HS back in the late 80’s. Probably the only job he left of his own choosing was when he left Eufaula HS to take over the new Alma Bryant HS in the mid 90’s. I actually interviewed with him at Eufaula when I was about to graduate. He offered me the baseball job, but the principal at the elementary school that I would’ve been working at decided to hire someone else. From Alma Bryant to Hoover HS and “2 A Days” on MTV. It was then everything came out about the 2nd family, grade fixing/threatening teachers, recruiting players, and filling his own pockets with cash. Two stops in GA and more recruiting, providing pills for players, head butting the kicker, etc. He will get PC in trouble soon!!
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