Riverside Military has struggled with coaching turnover in recent years, but never in the middle of the season until Tuesday when Chris Cotter resigned the position of football coach and athletic director, effective immediately.
Sheldon Ward, who was on staff as the Eagles offensive coordinator, was named to both positions on an interim basis. He is the fourth coach since Doug Dixon left the school after the 2006 season.
School president Col. James Benson received an e-mail from Cotter the same day letting him know of his decision to leave. Benson declined to give any details for why Cotter, who was in his second year coaching the Eagles, decided to step down.
“I’ll just say he did some fine things here and is a very good person,” Benson said. “I hope someone hires him soon onto their staff.”
Ward has 15 years combined coaching experience at the college and high school level. Most recently, he was head coach at Lyman Ward Military Academy in Camp Hill, Ala. for three years.
While the timing of the transition wasn’t ideal, Ward plans to make the most out of the situation.
“I felt it was best for someone on staff to step up and take over in this situation,” Ward said. “I’m going to do my best to try to build up the attitude, morale, and hopefully help us be competitive in a tough region we play in.”
Benson spoke with players Tuesday about the transition that was taking place. He added that Ward will have the opportunity to finish out the remainder of the season before a decision is made about the future.
Riverside has a game Friday at Landmark Christian, but a bye week after that, which is when Ward will make any tweaking to the personnel and gameplan he deems necessary.
After its bye, Riverside (0-3) opens Region 8-A play at George Walton Academy on Sept. 23.
“I don’t think we’ve played to our full potential this year,” Ward said.
Ward’s high school coaching background includes stints at Miller Grove, Pike County and Greenville. He started coaching in college as a graduate assistant with Jacksonville State University, then Miles College, St. Paul’s College, and Barber Scotia.