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New era begins for Clarkdale

By Staff
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT Clarkdale head coach Joey Ethridge, left, gives instructions during the Bulldogs' practice on Monday. Ethridge was named head coach of the team after former coach Gary Lee unexpectedly resigned on Friday. Photo by Will Bardwell/The Meridian Star
By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Sept. 9, 2003
The end of the Gary Lee era at Clarkdale has heralded a new beginning for this year's Bulldogs.
Lee, who was named the team's head coach in July, resigned abruptly on Friday following Clarkdale's 0-2 start. The team held its first practice on Monday under new head coach Joey Ethridge, who said the team has rallied following an emotional weekend.
Ethridge was an assistant under Lee and his predecessor, Bubba Hathorn. After Lee resigned on Friday, Clarkdale principal Jan Miller sat down with Ethridge and asked him to take the reigns for the Bulldogs. Ethridge agreed and then began the difficult task of reviewing the team's strategy and nursing its wounded ego.
Ethridge inherits a team coming off the best season in school history. Clarkdale finished 7-4 in 2002 and earned its first-ever playoff berth. Their slow start, combined with Lee's resignation, had players feeling shocked and confused at the beginning of the weekend.
The Bulldogs' Cedric Burns said the team has rallied during the turmoil, and that has helped their preparation for their game against Southeast Lauderdale on Thursday.
Those two days may help ebb the pain caused by Lee's sudden departure, but Burns said he hopes they won't dull the Bulldogs' memory of their 0-2 start.
Ethridge will be focusing on building the team at its most basic levels in search of that improvement.
If Monday's practice is any indication, it may be working.
After their 0-2 start, Ethridge said that chance may be just what the Bulldogs need.