Bill Clark Talks of Leaving Prattville

The Bill Clark Era at Prattville High School came to an official end around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Clark announced his resignation as the head football coach and athletics director to Prattville High Principal Lee Hicks in a private meeting at the Athletics office. Bill Clark talked of the decision.

Clark will accept the position of defensive coordinator/assistant head coach at the University of South Alabama "It was the toughest decision I ever had to make in my life," Clark said. "I prayed about it and cried about it with my family. And that's always been my number one priority, family."

"I did a lot of soul searching, and came to the realization if I ever wanted to reach the next level now was the time. I'll be 40 years old in a couple of months. It was time."

"I sat down with my wife [Jennifer], and she and I talked about it and prayed about it. I feel this is the right opportunity for me for my career. I love the challenge to start a program from scratch and build it from the ground floor. South Alabama will give me the opportunity to be a part of beginning that program."

"The opportunity surfaced sometimes last October when Joey Jones called me. He and I have been friends for some time since we coached together in one of the all-star games. We talked and agreed if either of us ever got an opportunity to coach at the next level to call."

"When the South Alabama program came available, and they said they were interested in talking to him, he called me and invited me to join him if he was hired. That's how it began."

"I went down to Mobile and talked with Joey and Coach Gottfried a couple of times. Joey called me and said, "I have got to have you. It was a hard decision."

"I'll leave a big part of myself here in Prattville. There's a lot of blood, sweat and tears on that practice field. I feel like this is my team, I help built this program, and I'll leave a part of my heart and soul here. I love Prattville, I love the community, the fans, and most of all the kids."

"It has been a very emotional day."

Clark will leave Prattville as the winningest coach in the history of the football program which dates back to 1915. He posted a 107-11 record in nine season. That record includes Class 6A state championships in 2006 and 2007. Following the 2007 season Prattville was ranked No.2 in the final USA Today national high school football poll.

Clark said, "I called Joey around lunch and told him my decision."

His first day on the job at South Alabama is March 3. Clark also said that Prattville's defensive coordinator Duwan Walker will join the South Alabama staff as a defensive coach with him.

Joey Jones, the former head coach at Mountain Brook High School and Birmingham Southern College, was named South Alabama's head coach Friday February 15.

The Jaguars are scheduled to field its first team in 2009 and begin play at the Division 1-AA level in 2010. The program will begin competition in the Division 1-A Sun Belt Conference in 2013. Troy University is a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

"This has been my home for nine years," Clark said. "I'm leaving behind so many people I love and a program that I gave everything I had. I have nothing but love for this school and community," he added.

He also said another factor in accepting the offer was it would not effect his retirement. He did not give an exact figure of his salary. He said it is a considerable pay raise, and he is still in the state's retirement program.

"I would like to say this to my fans. That was one of the things that made this decision so hard, our fans. When I came to Prattville I never imagined the support the Prattville fans and community would give us," Clark said.

"I did talk to my father, and he gave the good points and the bad points and left the decision up to me."

Clark also added that he was very proud of his accomplishments other than the football program.

"We started a volleyball program for our young ladies. We also added a soccer program, both boys and girls. The training facilitates we have here are second to none. We started a academic program for the student athletes so that they would excel in the classrooms," he said.

"There have been a lot of wonderful memories that I will cherish for the remainder of my life."

"I remember the first meeting I had with the team in 1999. We had 18 players to show up. The big win over Robert E. Lee in Cramton Bowl in my third year will always stick out. That was the first time for a Prattville team to beat Lee in the Bowl. The first undefeated regular season is very special."

"But everything here is special. This is my program, and I hate to leave. It is my family. That's another reason I am going to South Alabama. It is similar to Prattville. They are a family oriented school."

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