By DOUG EADS
After five seasons in charge of the Southwestern football program, head coach Larry French stepped down today as the Warriors head man.
French — with 322 victories as a head coach and two state championships — had a tremendous amount of success at Southwestern, but he could never steer the Warriors and get Southwestern over the proverbial hump to the promised land in the post season.
In his five years at Southwestern, French posted an overall record of 47-17, which included three district titles.
However, in round three of the playoffs is where French and Southwestern found the going tough. The Warriors finished as regional runner-up in four of his five seasons at the helm of the program, going 0-3 against arch-rival Pulaski County in the regional title game in 2014, 2016, and again this past season, while falling to Harlan County in the regional championship game last season.
In his five years at Southwestern, the only season that saw the Warriors not advance to at least a regional title contest was way back in 2015, when Southwestern was bounced out of the playoffs in a round two loss at North Laurel.
French has won at every stop along his Hall of Fame coaching career, as his 322 coaching victories would suggest.
He had coached previously at Mercer County, Meade County, Lincoln County, Boyle County, and at Southwestern, winning back to back state championships at Boyle County High School, posting perfect, 15-0 seasons back in the ’09 and ’10 seasons in leading the Rebels to two Class 4 A state titles.
At the other four schools along the way, he posted a winning record before he left to move on to take on another challenge at all four programs, including Southwestern.
Aside from those two state championships while coaching at Boyle County, French also took Meade County to the Class 4 A state championship game back in 1991, but fell to Bell County in the title game.
French became only the third head coach at Southwestern in school history, when he accepted the position in late-January of 2014, replacing Andy Stephens.
On that night in the Southwestern cafeteria, the legendary coach told the crowd and the Warrior Nation that Southwestern would indeed win a state championship while he was there, but in the end, that did not happen.
Maybe what stung the most was that in 2014, the Warriors toppled Pulaski County to win the district championship, but five weeks later in a much-anticipated rematch against the Maroons, Johnny Hines and crew defeated Southwestern on the Warriors home turf, and it was Pulaski County that went on to win a Class 5 A state title that same season.
French has been rumored as a serious candidate for the head coaching position at Middlesboro High School, but as of this afternoon, that job was still posted as being open with no one hired as of today.
Now, the Southwestern job is open, and with a myriad of young players returning from a team that went 10-3 in 2018, all of a sudden it’s now the Warriors who have a coaching vacancy inside the football program.
And, the Southwestern job figures to get a lot of attention from all across the state of Kentucky.