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Etowah hires Noles as football coach


From left, Attalla City School District Board of Education member Gary Adcock, former Superintendent Danny Golden and Attalla Mayor Larry Means chat with Drew Noles after he was hired to be Etowah High School’s new football coach. (Photo by Marc Golden | Gadsden Times)


ATTALLA — Etowah hired Boaz’s Drew Noles as its next head football coach at a called Attalla City School District Board of Education meeting Thursday.

Noles replaces Sam McCorkle, who resigned under pressure after four years Jan. 10.

Noles comes to the Blue Devils after coaching 22 years at his alma mater — 13 of which were as head coach. Both Boaz and Etowah play in Class 5A, Region 7.

“I’m excited about the opportunity and I appreciate it,” Noles said. “We have a tremendous opportunity on the field, but we’re gonna work off the field, too.”

Also in attendance was Gardner Gilliland, who was an assistant under Noles with the Pirates and already has agreed to join the Etowah coaching staff.

Superintendent David Bowman believes Noles is the right man for the job.

“I think he is a good fit for us,” Bowman said. “We had probably 40 people apply, we interviewed 20. We had a lot of good interviews, but I just felt like with him (Noles) being at Boaz, playing us all through the years, knowing our situation and the staff he’s going to put together, he’s going to be a good fit for Etowah High School.”

Noles graduated from Boaz High School in 1991 and went on to Jacksonville State University, where he graduated in 1995.

After becoming the Pirates’ head coach in 2000, he led them to the third round of the playoffs in just his third season at the helm. Noles guided Boaz to the postseason in each of the last seven seasons, and nine of the last 11. He also coached baseball and basketball at the school, though he said that it has not been decided if he will help out at Etowah in those sports.

During his time with the Pirates, Noles went 80-63 with appearances in the state quarterfinals in 2002 and 2003. By his own estimation, Noles has attended every Boaz football game since 1984. That 28-year streak will end this fall.

Noles stressed how difficult it was to make the choice to leave the Pirates.

“There are very few jobs I would have left Boaz for,” he said. “People can’t imagine how tough it was (to leave Boaz). We will forever be grateful to them, but it was time to move on. A lot of prayer went into it. We had to talk about it and make sure it wasn’t just something for me but for our family. It was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

Despite the difficulty of leaving the team he coached for more than two decades, Noles believes that the opportunity afforded him by the Blue Devils will be worth it.

“When this opportunity came up, it was one we definitely looked into,” he said. “As the process went on, we saw the total commitment from the city, the city council and the mayor, to the board and superintendent to this process. That was exciting to see. It’s something we’re excited to be a part of.”

The three-week process of locating McCorkle’s replacement was a bit tricky, according to Bowman, but ended up doing what it was intended to do.

“The principal (John Serafini) and I started interviews, and when you’re looking for a head coach, you’ve got a lot of people interviewing who are still coaching,” he said. “They don’t particularly want it known that they are interviewing, so we didn’t make it public. Those guys have to go back and coach their kids, and as an old coach myself, I would want that same respect. I do believe we got the right one.”

Bowman said Noles will begin meeting with the athletes in the Attalla school system today and the coach plans to implement his system starting at the junior high level.