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Miles named Selma football coach

SELMA — Leroy Miles Jr. has wanted to be Selma High School’s football coach for 15 years, and now he is.

The Southside High athletic director made the jump to rival Selma in an effort to revive the Saints’ program and build a team the community can rally around.

“The talent has always been here,” Miles said. “It just needs direction, and the kids need someone who cares about them. We have to be in the business of motivating and getting them to buy into what it takes to be successful. Every kid won’t have the chance to play at the next level, but football prepares you to be successful. If you hold them accountable, it prepares them for the real world.”

Miles was the offensive coordinator for the Saints in 1994 under then-head coach Woodrow Lowe, a former All-American at the University of Alabama, and played for former University of Mississippi coach David Cutcliffe, who now coaches at Duke University, in high school. He also coached Southside from ’95-’99.

Selma High School athletic director Patrick Evans said having someone with Miles’ pedigree and past success will be vital to helping turn the Saints’ fortunes around.

“He’s the only coach at Southside to beat Selma in football. He built a good program while he was there,” Evans said. “The year he was our offensive coordinator was the last time Selma made the playoffs, so he has that track record. I know him personally, and I know he will do a good job. We need to give him a chance and support him.”

Miles met with Selma football players Thursday afternoon after his selection was approved Wednesday night in the Selma City School Board meeting to replace Foster Davis, who resigned. He said players are excited and feels success is just around the corner.

“I asked them to stand up if they wanted to play for a championship program and they all stood up,” Miles said. “I said then they are going to have to do some things that they don’t want to do or at least some things they haven’t been doing.”

Miles said he emphasized discipline, dedication, defense, accountability and academics. He will also require each player to participate in at least 22 out of 27 summer workouts before the start of fall practice.

Miles said he will judge his success by increased participation and by playing better football, which means more wins.

Evans said the talent is there and he believes Miles will make good on his plans.

“We have a multitude of talent in this city and the county,” Evans said. “I’ve always said Selma is the best-kept secret in the state. I believe in two years Selma will be a playoff contender is 5A. Coach Miles understands he’s got to outwork the next person.”

Miles said he wants to keep the community involved, and plans to implement a weekly cookout every Thursday for the team and members of the community, like the ones when he coached in Shelby County.

“In Columbiana, the city sponsored the cookout and the community used to look forward to coming to the cookout every week,” Miles said. “It’s a chance to become familiar with the athletes and coaches. I feel the football team can pull the community together.”

As for Miles’ vacant position at Southside, he said he recommended softball coach April O’Neal as his replacement, but is not involved in the search process.