MERIDIAN — After nine years serving as an assistant on the Clarkdale football coaching staff, Wes Roy proudly considers himself a Bulldog. The coach has not only grown to love the team and its players, but also the Clarkdale community itself.
So, when Roy was offered the head coaching job at Clarkdale following former head coach Chris Richmond's departure to Neshoba Central last week, the opportunity was a dream come true.
“Over the years, I have grown to really love the school and the kids here,” Roy said. “I'm really attached to this school, and I'm just excited to get this opportunity.”
Roy moved to Meridian when he turned 18 years old and is a graduate of Meridian Community College and the Mississippi State University Meridian campus. After graduating college, Roy took a job with Clarkdale and has been an assistant coach on the football team ever since. Now, entering his first ever head coaching job, Roy hopes his familiarity with the program will help turn around a Bulldogs team that has just one win in the last two seasons.
“I think the consistency with the coaching staff is going to help,” Roy said. “We just need to get in there and work. There is no magic recipe for it. We have good kids; they are easy to be around, and we just need to get out there and get to work.”
Roy said he is excited to continue working with Clarkdale assistant coach Joey Etheridge and thinks having a coaching staff that knows its players will allow the team to grow together and improve.
The new head coach spoke with members of the Clarkdale football team last week, stressing to his players that the climb from a winless season in 2012 will require plenty of work and dedication in the off season.
“As far as I can tell, the players are excited about it,” Roy said. “I told them when I talked with them, we are just going to keep things going.
“I told the kids the first time we met, our short-term goal is to just be competitive. We have got to be competitive again before we can even start talking about long-term goals. We need to be in ball games and playing close with people, that's the short-term goal.”
One advantage Roy said he has going for him is the support the Clarkdale community has shown to its football team. Despite the team's recent trying seasons, Bulldog supporters have packed the stadium on Friday nights. Roy said that support will only help to further the confidence of his players and help them improve next year.
“It's huge for the kids to come out of the field house and see a crowd,” Roy said. “Ever since I've been here, our crowd comes. We haven't had a ton of success, but they still come. I would love to see that support continue, not just for me but for the kids.”
A self-described high-emotion coach, Roy said he wears his passion on his sleeves during games. He hopes that that intensity will seep down to his players, as he looks to create a new mentality at Clarkdale and bring back the pride in being a Bulldog.
“I love this school,” Roy said. “It's the only school I've ever been at. I consider myself a Clarkdale Bulldog.”