Brian Anderson has been named interim head football coach at East Central Community College in Decatur, announced Dr. Phil A. Sutphin, College president.
“We are pleased to have someone on staff such as Coach Anderson to assume the interim position,” said Dr. Sutphin. “His background will serve him and the team well over the next several months.”
Anderson, 36, was named to the post less than a week following the resignation of Steve Cheatham, who stepped down due mainly to health reasons.
Cheatham, who led the Warrior program after one year and is a former assistant, underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer on June 22 but the longtime coach said he did not think he “could give East Central and the young men what is needed” going into the upcoming season.
The 52-year-old Cheatham, who has 28 years coaching experience in the state system and 31 years overall, will continue to coach but on a different level. He will serve as physical education instructor for grades K-8 at Conehatta Elementary School, a division of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Anderson, who served the past year as Cheatham’s offensive coordinator and will continue in that role along with duties as head coach, said he is ready for the challenge, although he did not expect the head coaching position so soon.
“It’s a great opportunity, it’s a privilege and it’s an honor to serve as head football coach at East Central Community College,” Anderson said after addressing team members in a Sunday night meeting in the Brackeen-Wood Physical Education Building. “Being head coach is something I had in the back of my mind when I came here. The timing of the matter was a little off from what I thought it would be – I thought it would be several years – but at the same time it’s something that I am ready for, something that I am eager for as well as my family. I’m just very excited and ready to get started.”
Anderson is a former high school head football coach, leading Grenada to a 5-6 record in 2007 after successfully guiding Philadelphia to a 27-8 mark from 2004 through the 2006 seasons. His offenses were rated among the best in the state at both schools. He is also former assistant at Meridian, Philadelphia and Neshoba Central high schools.
He was the starting center at Mississippi State University on the 1992-95 squads, which participated in three bowl games. Anderson earned All-Southeastern Conference honors his junior and senior campaigns and made the All-SEC Academic Team for three seasons. In addition, he was presented the CommuniGroup Offensive Lineman of the Year award a record three times. He was selected for the Blue-Gray All-Star Classic, the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine in 1996.
Anderson, who is also a former football standout at Prattville, Ala., High School, is married to the former LeaAnn Allen of Philadelphia. They have two sons, Brady and Eli.
In analyzing this year’s East Central squad, Anderson said he is “very optimistic” that the Warriors can achieve their first winning season since 2001. He noted last season’s strong finish and an impressive recruiting class as reasons for his optimism.
“We’ve got to have a carryover from last season,” Anderson said, referring to the Warriors’ impressive finish by winning two of their last three games against very formidable opponents.
“The last three games of the season, I thought we were as good as anybody. We played an outstanding Gulf Coast team (eventual state champs) to the wire (before falling 38-35), beat a good Co-Lin squad that previously beat Gulf Coast (37-31 in OT), then we beat a top-five ranked Pearl River team in double-overtime (44-38). So two of our last three wins were in overtime and that showed character within our team and we’ve got several of those players back this season. So they know in the back of their minds they are capable of playing with anybody in the state.”
East Central finished 2008 with a 4-5 overall record and 3-3 slate in the MACJC South Division.
Anderson said getting better players to come to EC was a top priority of Coach Cheatham and staff members.
“We’ve gone out and recruited some players that have great motors….they play extremely hard and they play extremely fast,” he noted. “We’ve recruited some guys with state championship experience and some who were members of teams that were ranked among the top in the nation. So we have recruited some guys that understand what it takes to be a winner….the price you have to pay in order to win.”
Although pleased with the recruiting class, Anderson said “you never know” about how players develop until everyone reports to camp in August.
“We have a good group of kids on campus for second-semester summer school and voluntary workouts, “Anderson said. “And that’s one of our goals to get a bigger group in during the summer, working out and staying in condition. We’ve addressed that issue and it’s getting better, although it is not where we want it to be.”
Approximately 50 team members arrived Sunday to begin classes and voluntary workouts. All players are scheduled to report to campus on Monday, August 6 to start training camp.
The Warriors begin the 2009 campaign by battling non-division opponent Coahoma Community College Thursday, Aug. 27. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at Bailey Stadium on the Decatur campus.
Assisting Anderson will be returning staff members James Miller, Kyle Watson, Fredrick Lyons and Derek Pouncey.
Anderson will soon add another assistant coach to complete his staff.