By: Wells Dusenbury
After two seasons with the program, Gene Clemons has been fired as Ft. Pierce Westwood's head football coach. Clemons confirmed the news to ESPN 760. The TC Palm first reported the dismissal.
Clemons spent two years as the Panthers' head coach, going 1-8 in consecutive seasons. Clemons said the administration gave him no specific reason for why they were letting him go.
"I wish I could give you a better reason," said Clemons, "You know, 'I did this, this and this.'"
"We lost. We lost a lot of games. When you lose a lot of games, somebody has to take the blame and that falls on the head coach."
Clemons becomes the latest in string of coaches with short tenures at Ft. Pierce Westwood. Kevin McMahon was fired by the Panthers in 2008 after 11 seasons with the program. Wadies Ashmon was then dismissed after two years. Ft. Pierce Westwood then fired Roderick Lawson in 2010 after one season in which he led the Panthers to a 9-1 record.
With Clemons' dismissal, the Panthers will be looking for their 5th head coach in seven years. Despite the struggles in his short tenure, Clemons doesn't believe he was given a realistic chance to succeed.
"I don't think anyone can feel they had a fair shake in two years. My disappointment comes in not being able to finish the job."
"Nobody wants to be fired. Nobody wants to be told they're not the answer. Do I think two years is enough time to rebuild? No. But they make decisions and we have to live with them."
Westwood has struggled mightily in the past two seasons, due in part to a large number of players transferring out. The school's poor academic standing made it easy for students to transfer out.
"I think any school that is in our situation, where it's in the lower achievement academic schools and the school isn't necessarily the shining beacon like some shiny 90 million dollar facility, it's hard to have success."
Does Clemons feel the expectations are too high at Westwood?
"I really don't know what the expectations are from the administration, other than to run a good program, which I thought I was doing. When you lose like we were doing, 1-8 and 1-8; it's hard to get that stench off of you."
Clemons says he will still maintain his teaching job at Westwood for the remainder of the year, but wants to coach football again in the future.
"I came to Westwood because of what they believe in, but I still want to be a head football coach," Clemons said. "I'll be looking to coach again. At what level? I don't know."
Despite his dismissal, Clemons still plans on staying involved with players from the current team and will work to get his seniors into college.
"They shouldn't be penalized for decisions they didn't make."
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