Swinney new PCHS head football coach
Phil Campbell High School has had its fair share of issues with the varsity football program over the past few years. There have been two head-coaching changes in the past two years.
Two years ago Bo Culver was head coach before leaving the program. Last summer former head coach Jason Hill took over, but he too resigned this summer to take a coaching spot elsewhere.
In this time the Phil Campbell Bobcats have struggled in a tough 2A region, including playing against last year’s 2A state champ in Tanner.
Phil Campbell High School was tasked with finding a new head football coach once again, but this time the candidate chosen is not someone from outside of the school and program.
Since the decision was made to promote from within this go around, no one familiar with the Bobcats should fail to recognize new head coach Ryan Swinney.
Swinney is a familiar face to most around Phil Campbell, given his roots and time at Phil Campbell Elementary School.
“I am 46,” Swinney said. “I graduated from Phil Campbell High School in 1985. My wife Tina is a 1987 graduate.
“I attended Northwest for two years, where I played baseball. I transferred to the University of North Alabama, where I got a Bachelor’s degree in physical education and a Master’s degree in physical education.
“I’ve been in the Franklin County school system for 22 years. I spent two years at Belgreen and 17 and a half at East Franklin Junior High.
“I coached basketball at both schools. I transferred to the elementary school here at Phil Campbell. This will start my fourth year here. I’ve been an assistant football coach here for four years.”
Swinney is no stranger to Phil Campbell, the Bobcats’ football team or the Franklin County school system. What he is new to, however, is being a head football coach.
“This is my first head-coaching job in football,” he said. “I was responsible for the junior high for a couple of years.
“I’m excited about it. It has always been a dream of mine to coach football. I told several people when I came out of high school and college that I always desired to coach football, but it always felt like the Lord led me in different directions.
“I love basketball, and I participated in all sports when I played. I’ve always wanted to coach football, and I finally had the opportunity to become an assistant coach four years ago, and that led to this.
“I was born here and went to school here at Phil Campbell. My son graduated here class of 2012 and I have a daughter that is just starting ninth grade here.”
The Bobcats football team posted just a 2-8 record each of the past two seasons, and two major components that have factored into the program’s struggles have been coaching changes and the toughness of region opponents.
“I would like to think stability is one thing, because there have been a lot of coaching turnaround in the last few years,” Swinney said.
“Stability will help that, and I think that will help with the number coming out to play. My plan is to stay here and stick with it. Stability is No. 1.
“We had a lot of kids graduate from the football team last year, and when you lose that amount at a 2A school it can be pretty tough. We’re going to take the ones we have coming back, the new ones that want to come out and we’re going to work hard and strive to be successful.
“We want to make it successful for several years. Our ultimate goal is to compete yearly in the region.
“We have a really rough region. Tanner won the 2A state championship last year, and that’s a region game.
“You can go down the list: Red Bay, Hatton, Colbert Heights, tanner and Sheffield. Sheffield just moved down [to 2A] a couple of years ago.
“I don’t know if you can get any tougher [in 2A] than the region we’re in.”
Swinney will have a lot on his plate as he works to turn Phil Campbell back into a winning football team. Still, he is quite optimistic about the tasks at hand.
“We’re excited,” he said. “We met [Tuesday] morning and had a workout.
“We’re kind of behind because we got a late start on things, but we’re going to jump right in and start implementing some of the things we are going to do immediately.”