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High school football: Elkins steps down as Sherman coach

SETH, W.Va. -- Sherman High School is searching for a new football coach.

Shann Elkins resigned on Nov. 5, two days after his team wrapped up a 1-9 season with a 27-8 loss to Boone County rival Van.

The Tide lost its first three and final six games this season.

Sherman's only win was a 32-0 victory versus Hannan on Sept. 14, which snapped a 17-game losing streak.

Elkins' resignation had nothing to do with football, however. A Boone County Schools principal, Elkins is transferring from Sherman Junior High School to Madison Middle School.

"It was a tough one," Elkins said of his decision, which will enable him to spend more time with his wife and their four children. "I kept everything to myself up until the last week and a half or two weeks. I knew basically at the end of September that I was being led in a different direction. I fought it for about eight weeks because I love football and the community we were in and the kids we had. We were young, but we were getting better every day. It was just one of those things that at the end of the day, we really didn't have a choice."

Elkins finished his five-season tenure - his first stint as a head coach - with the Tide with a 16-36 record. Sherman, which dropped from Class AA to Class A this year, was 2-8 in his first season, 11-1 in his second, 2-8 in his third, 0-10 in his fourth and 1-9 in his fifth.

Elkins took the Tide to the Class AA quarterfinals in 2009, which was one of the most successful seasons in school history. It also was the Tide's first postseason appearance since 2004, when it was a Class A team.

"We had a great experience," Elkins said. "There were some things we were able to accomplish that you just can't see in the won-loss record. There were some things internally and structurally that we needed to get in place to be competitive year in and year out. We feel like we did those things."

Elkins was the offensive line coach at West Virginia State from 2003-05. He spent 16 years (1987-2002) as an assistant at Scott (two with the ninth-grade team, two with the junior varsity and 12 with the varsity, including five as the defensive coordinator).

Elkins was a wide receiver and safety at former Lincoln County power Duval, where he helped the 12-1 Yellowjackets win the 1982 Class A state championship in his senior season.

Former Tide coach Bill Miller took a medical leave of absence in 2008 to fight prostate cancer. Miller, who compiled a 136-81 record in 20 seasons, never returned to the Sherman sideline in an official capacity.

Boone County Board of Education members selected Elkins to replace Miller rather than former Tide defensive coordinator and strength coach J.D. Fairchild, a Sherman teacher who had been on Miller's staff for two decades.

Fairchild is a candidate to replace Elkins. He said he will bid on the job posting, which will end Friday.

Fairchild was a three-year letterman at Greenbrier East, where he was an offensive and defensive tackle. He played in the 1976 North-South All-Star Classic. He was a four-year letterman at Glenville State, where he was an offensive tackle.

Fairchild spent one year as an assistant coach at Stratton Junior High School and teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley before spending the next five years as a coal miner. He joined the teaching and coaching staff at Sherman in 1987.

"I would like to get the program back on track," Fairchild said. "We used to be one of the strongest teams in the state. Nobody can deny that. One of the things I want to do is get us strong again."

Another possible candidate is current Sherman assistant Bob Mullett, the North-South All-Star Classic director who was on Elkins' staff the past three seasons.

Mullett began his coaching career with the Tide in 1977. He spent one year at Sherman before spending two years as an assistant at Gauley Bridge, 10 years as the head coach at Van, two years as the head coach at Scott, 10 years as the head coach at Concord University, one year as the head coach at Gauley Bridge, one year as an assistant at West Virginia University Tech, one year as the head coach at Buffalo, three years as an assistant at West Virginia State, four years as the head coach at Van and one year as an assistant at Scott.

As a head coach, Mullett has a 93-56 record and six playoff berths in high school and a 51-50-2 record and two conference titles in college.

Another possible candidate is current Sherman teacher and athletic director Jim Henderson, a veteran educator who has been a head coach in ninth-grade football, varsity boys basketball and varsity girls softball. Henderson was an assistant on Elkins' staff the past five seasons.

Neither Mullett nor Henderson could be reached for comment Sunday.

"I know my two assistants are planning on staying," Elkins said of Mullett and Henderson. "I feel like either one would be a great candidate in his own way. Whoever gets the job, we have not left the cupboard bare. There are 10 starters back on offense and 10 starters back on defense next year."


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