Wooten is the new head football coach at Parrish High School. He replaces Jeff Boren who left after one season with the Tornadoes.
Wooten who has spent his 14-year coaching career in south Alabama was interested in Parrish for one reason — tradition.
“I’ve heard about Parrish football pretty much all of my life. They are one of the teams that seems to be around every year at playoff time. I’m excited about the opportunity to come up here,” said Wooten, 44. “This place is loaded with football tradition. When it comes to high schools, there are places that are football schools and some that are basketball schools. This is a place you have to consider a football school. As a coach, that’s what you want.”
Wooten spent last year as the offensive coordinator at Class 5A Greenville. The Tigers finished 11-1 and averaged 29.4 points per game. He spent the three previous seasons (2008-10) as head coach at Class 2A Houston County, amassing a 13-18 record, including a 8-3 mark in 2009. Wooten has also been an assistant coach at Beauregard (1998-2004), Valley (2005-06) and Fairhope (2007).
Wooten is a 1986 graduate of Beulah High School in Lee County. He graduated from Auburn University in 1998.
Parrish Principal Eric Smith said Wooten was an easy choice.
“He stood out from the other candidates with his experience and his drive. His references all had great things to say about him. They mentioned his ability and integrity,” Smith said. “We were looking for someone who had head coaching experience. We are very pleased. He came down and did a mini-spring with the team. He’s got the kids going full force in the offseason. We’re expecting good things from him.”
Wooten will have his work cut out in a tough 1A, Region 5, which includes defending state champion Marion County (14-1) as well as Pickens County (11-2). Parrish also has region games against Lynn and Berry, two teams that each have six-game winning streaks against the Tornadoes. On top of that, the team has just four home games and plays three playoff teams (Oakman, Cordova and Fultondale) in its non-region games.
“We’ve got a brutal schedule. The region got even tougher with Pickens County coming in. Realistically, there is not an easy game on the schedule. This is a tall order for anybody. Whoever wins this region is going to be a really good football team,” said Wooten, who is Parrish’s third coach in three years.
Parrish is coming off a disappointing 4-6 season in 2011 following a 10-4 mark and a 1A state semifinals appearance in 2010.
The Tornadoes lost five games by a total of nine points last year, including region losses to Berry (48-46 in overtime), Lynn (22-19) and Hubbertville (36-35). Parrish finished one game out of the state playoffs.
“Sometimes the breaks go your way. Sometimes they don’t. I don’t think they got many breaks last year. The kids seem like they’ve got a chip on their shoulders about how last season went. I think they want to show that’s really not typical Parrish football. It’s kind of like they want to prove that last year was a fluke,” said Wooten, who has been impressed with his players’ dedication in the weight room.
“At Houston County it was always a struggle to get kids at summer workouts. Since I’ve been here, we’ve had close to 40 kids total who come on a regular basis and there has been a nucleus of 20 to 25 kids who have been to every workout. I’ve never had that. The biggest day I had in three years at Hale County was one day when 18 kids showed up. It’s not your typical high school mentality. It’s obvious that the tradition here has carried down through the years.”