Stan McCain is no stranger to rebuilding jobs.
After taking over West Lauderdale prior to the 2012 season, McCain inherited a 2-9 team and, two years later, transformed it into a 7-5 team in 2013. Despite a 3-8 year in 2014, the Knights then went 9-3 and 12-1 the following two seasons before McCain took an assistant coaching job at Mary G. Montgomery High School in Semmes, Alabama, prior to the 2017 season.
Now, McCain hopes he still has it in him to rebuild another program, as he is set to begin the season as the Vikings’ new head coach. He’s inheriting a team that went 0-10 last fall, but having morphed West Lauderdale into an MHSAA Class 4A competitor, McCain has the pedigree to turn struggling programs around.
“You have to have good support, and we have that here,” McCain explained. “The community supports our program at MGM, and our administration is very supportive. You also have to have kids who want to win who will listen to you and do the little things. There’s a lot to work on right now as far as having discipline, but we have a lot of good players. We just have to get them on the right page.”
At first, McCain wasn’t even sure he wanted the head coaching job at MGM, however. The job came open around Christmas, and McCain applied for it and got it in January.
“There was a lot of praying going on,” McCain said. “I really didn’t know (if I wanted it). I had another job offer from another school in the system, and I felt that might work out better for me. I just prayed a lot about it and finally got some peace about it and went ahead and applied.”
McCain admitted going from a head coach to an assistant coach last fall was an awkward transition, but it wasn’t too much of a problem. Now, though, he’s ready to run a program again.
“I had plenty of people tell me I wouldn’t like being an assistant after being a head coach for so long, but I had a good time, it was just a little strange,” he said. “There were some things I thought I could be better at helping with, but I didn’t want to overstep my bounds, so I can understand why it’s hard for a head coach to (become an assistant).”
In hindsight, McCain said he has no regrets about taking the MGM head coaching job due to the excellent support he has around him.
“As a head coach, you get to do things the way you want to do, and I was very fortunate at past jobs to have had great principals that let me do what I wanted to do to get things right, and that’s the case here at Mary Montgomery,” McCain said. “We have a great principal who is letting me get what I need to do a good job. We have great kids. They really remind me a lot of the kids we had at West — they’re just good old country kids who will work hard and get after it. We’ve been taking it one step at a time. We didn’t have a very good season last year, so we’re trying to take the steps necessary in the little things we do to be more successful.”
Like Mississippi, Alabama is a state that takes football seriously, McCain said, and there isn’t much difference coaching in either state.
“Everybody wants to win, and for the most part they’re going to do what it takes to win,” McCain said. “I don’t think you could tell one state from the other if you played them, to be honest.”
While he may live in the Mobile, Alabama, area now, McCain said he still talks to his Collinsville friends.
“All the time,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s home for me.”