Clinton Gatewood has coached in 121 straight games for Greenwood High School, but that streak appears to be coming to an end.
On Wednesday, Gatewood said he was pretty sure he would not be on the sidelines Friday when the Bulldogs host cross-county rival Leflore County High School for the season openers for both teams.
Some people in the community have expressed concerns of what they perceive as a conflict of interest for Gatewood, who also serves as the chief of athletics for the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District.
The 10th-year GHS coach doesn’t see where there would be a competitive advantage on the field with him being on the sidelines, but he understands this can be a tricky situation.
“It’s not set in stone, but I am trying to do what is best for the overall health of our district and its three football programs (GHS, Leflore and Amanda Elzy),” Gatewood said. “I just don’t want my subordinates (Leflore coach Eric House and Elzy coach Sheldon Hodge) to fear repercussions if they beat me or something like that.
“But with that said, this has been my program for 10 years, and we have come a long way so it makes it really tough for me not to be there for my guys and coaches.”
Dr. Mary Brown, Superintendent of the Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District, said Wednesday it’s the right move for the coach.
“Mr. Gatewood, showing respect to all programs, felt it was best for the district to designate another coach to take the lead for the Greenwood High versus the Leflore and Elzy games as he provides the support for all teams. Mr. Gatewood’s ultimate responsibility is to provide supervision and support for all of the district’s sports and activities.
“The district supports the decision to work to maintain unity and support for all of its programs. As we observe this process this year, we will assess current practices and seek to find ways to advance our program moving forward through our consolidated efforts.”
House said he doesn’t see anything wrong with Gatewood coaching his own team against Leflore and Elzy.
“I don’t have a problem with it. He has earned the right to be there for his team, and that shouldn’t change no matter the circumstances.”
Gatewood said his two coordinators, Cary Weaver (offense) and Jimmy Stanford (defense), will run the team Friday night in his absence.
House said he doesn’t expect the Bulldogs to miss a beat with two veteran assistants running the show against the Tigers.
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