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Barnett says he will miss the players

Jimmy Barnett isn't sure what's next for him.

But he knows he'll always hold Briarwood close to his heart.

"Right now, I don't know if I will remain in coaching, but whatever my decision will be, I will support and pull for Briarwood Academy every week," he said, just days after being released as the Bucs head coach.

The decision to relieve Coach Barnett from his coaching duties was made on Monday afternoon, Nov. 13 by the Board of Trustees at Briarwood.

"We are very appreciative of the last four years of Coach Barnett's service with us at Briarwood," said Clayton Parrish, athletic director at the school. "There is no animosity between us, and we appreciate what he has done in the past and that he has decided to stay on until the end of the school year to help with the transition."

Both Parrish and Trustees Chairman Skip Griffin said the board wanted to "go in a different direction."

A search committee at Briarwood has already started accepting applications and resumes for the head football coaching position. School officials hope to have someone in place before spring practice begins in late April.

"I enjoyed my four years at has been a good little ride," said Coach Barnett, who compiled a 27-18-1 record during his tenure in which he led the Buccaneers to the Region 1-AA Title and a Class AA Final Four appearance in 2003 and state playoff berths in 2004 and 2005. "I am a very lucky fellow. I had four wonderful years to do what I like to football at Briarwood Academy. I'm thankful I had the opportunity to do that."

Coach Barnett said he's proud of the interest the football program has generated in the last four years.

"When I first took over, we had about 13-15 players on the team, and this year, we were over 30 in number. During this time, we also recorded some very big wins for the football program," Coach Barnett said.

Those big wins started with Coach Barnett's first game - a 7-2 shocker over Trinity Academy from Dublin in 2003. That season, the team was led by freshman quarterback David Russell - a senior on the 2006 squad. Also that season, the Buccaneers whipped Edmund Burke and beat Brentwood Academy 41-24.

"There were big wins for our program this year as well," Coach Barnett said. "We went to Milledgeville and defeated Class AAA John Milledge Academy. Then we went to Tiftarea Academy and played in 'The Chula Dome'. We knew it would be very difficult to beat them on the road in South Georgia, but we came through with a big win."

The most memorable thoughts from coaching that Coach Barnett has is not his overall record or his big victories, but it is the kids that came out to play for him that never played football before in their lives.

"When I was at Wilkes Academy, there was a student we called 'Spike' that had a crippling disease that came out and wanted to play football," he said. "He worked out with us in practice, and he bumped the sled. In one game, we were able to put him in at safety, and he played four or five plays. He's a preacher today."

It's the kids he'll miss the most.

"I got real close to all my players, and it is going to be very sad when I leave," he said. "Emotions are good, but they must be contained. This was a decision made by adults in an adult world."

Coach Barnett said he'll help smooth the transition to the next Briarwood coach.

"I told my players that I would be very hurt if they did not give their respect to the new coach or if the program that I built starts to fall down," Coach Barnett said.

The coach had one last piece of advice for his former players.

"Life and football go hand-in-hand," he said. "If you make a mistake, learn from it and forget it. Do not carry it with you, and especially, do not take it home with you."

Web posted on Thursday, November 23, 2006

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