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O’Rear new PCHS basketball coach

PHIL CAMPBELL — Stability in its athletic programs has been a problem at Phil Campbell High School over the past few years.

The school has been through a handful of different head coaches in football, baseball and now basketball.

The departure of Jason Hill and Will Copeland left the Franklin County Board of Education to find new coaches to helm the programs.

Because stability has been such a big issue, Superintendent Gary Williams and the board felt like the best course of action was to find local people to fill the jobs.

Now they have. Ryan Swinney was recently hired as the new head football coach of the Bobcats, and now the head boys’ varsity basketball coaching position has been filled as well. Well, almost.

The hire is not quite official, but it is almost a certainty that the new head boys’ coach at Phil Campbell High School will be Russ O’Rear, a former head coach and principal at Haleyville Middle School.

“Russ has been in the Haleyville school system for 13 years,” Williams said. “Before that he had head coaching experience in boys’ basketball in Walker County.

“Then he was a head girl’ basketball coach as well in Walker County. Then he came to Haleyville and has been an assistant coach there.

“Now he’ll be at Phil Campbell. He lives just outside of Phil Campbell, so he’s familiar with the area.

“We’re looking to add stability to the athletic programs at Phil Campbell, so we found a football and basketball coach that live pretty close to the school.

“He lives in the community, so we’re looking forward to him coming in and doing some good things with the basketball program.”

The “almost” stated earlier is because the school board has yet to hire him, but the board will act soon.

“This is not an official hire yet,” Williams said. “The board hasn’t acted yet, and it won’t until July 30.

“However, the posting has come down and myself and other members have talked to him and told him that would be our recommendation.”

Williams and the school board had the daunting task of finding two different head coaches for Phil Campbell in just a short time before the athletic seasons start up again.

The process was expedited thanks to filling the void with two local applicants.

“It didn’t take long,” Williams said. “We posted the jobs, and a lot of people in the community recommended we get a local person.

“That’s what we did, and we tried to do the same with the basketball coach. It didn’t take long to find them.

“As soon as we got the jobs posted people started to apply. We did some informal interviews, and it didn’t take to long to get done.”

Although O’Rear has been out of the head coaching world and in administration over the past few years, Williams has no doubt how the new hire will do in his soon-to-be position.

“I think Coach O’Rear will do well at Phil Campbell,” he said. “He can relate well with his players, his fellow teachers and with people in the community. I think he will do a great job at Phil Campbell.”