Allen set to take helm at R.E. Lee

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Former Greenville High School Coach Gene Allen left the home of the Tigers with one state championship ring. He then went to the home of a different set of Tigers and built Talladega High School's program up.

As of last week, Allen has a new challenge in front of him – turning a group of 0-10 Rebels into a contender. Allen has been named as a candidate for head coaching job at Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery. If selected, he will be replacing Chris Baxter whose contract was not renewed for the 2005-2006 season. Robert E. Lee High School's football team delayed their spring training while waiting on the decision as to what was going to happen with their coach.

Jim Barker, Human Resources Director for the Montgomery County Board of Education could not comment on the reason behind Baxter's dismissal, saying only that there was litigation going on.

But, when asked about the search for a new coach he had positive response.

"We were looking for someone with proven teaching ability as well as coaching experience," said Barker. "While he was in Greenville he won the 5A state championship and that showed that he was able to effect youth in a positive way. That's what we were looking for in a positive standpoint to help re-grow the program."

During his tenure at Greenville High School, Allen picked up a 5A state championship in 1994.

During his tenure at Greenville High School, Allen ascended from the ranks of assistant coach, to the head job and then picked up a 5A state championship in 1994 boasting a 71-34 overall record. He was also named the Alabama High School Athletic Association coach of the Year in 1993. But, during his tenure in Greenville Allen guided the Tigers into the final game in 1993, but fell short of the trophy. He also was named the coach for the annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star football game in 1995. When Allen left Greenville High School in 1999, he inherited a Talladega High program that had combined the 1993-1994 season for a tally of 1-19 and were an anemic 3-37 from 1969-1999.

Allen also teaches Physical Education and Biology.

"Gene was a great guy," said Jerome Harris, Parks and Recreation Director for the city of Greenville. "He's football oriented. He eats, sleeps and drinks football and was always out with his kids. When a coach wins a state championship you can tell he put some work and time in with his kids. But I guess the talent dropped off over the years. In a town that's football town and you don't have the numbers, it's time to go."

Harris was the president of the booster club during Allen's stay in the Camellia City.

Dexter McLendon, Mayor of Greenville echoed Harris's sentiments.

"He's a great guy," said McLendon. "During his coaching career in Greenville, I was President of the athletic club and really enjoyed working with him and you could tell he really enjoyed his job. I think that he'll have Lee High School contending for the state title in a few years."

The only comment that Barker could make on how close Allen was to becoming the general of the Generals was this: "He's one of the finalists, for the job," said Barker. "He sent in a letter of interest based on a posted notice throughout the southeast. We received applicants from Florida and all around the southeast. But most were from within state. We did get a few from out of state. We had applicants with prior college experience, and two who had professional backgrounds as players."

Baxter, who was the Generals' Athletic Director as well head coach, was immediately put on leave following reports that he was engaged in an improper relationship with a fellow school employee. According to a school board spokeswoman, Baxter's being investigated for improper fraternization with a fellow school employee.

"We finished 0-10, so it's obvious that the program needs work," said Barker. "It's obvious that it needs to re-grow. Lee High School has never had a 0-10 season. I'm not going to say anything bad about the old coach. He had begun to clean house and get some of the bad seeds out and now we need someone that can continue that."

The Montgomery County Board of Education is set to vote Tuesday night at 6 p.m. on the new head coach of the Generals.

"The board will be presented with the packets from the two leading coaches and from there, they will vote," said Barker.

Barker was unable to comment on Allen's competition for the head job.

"He's a great guy and it's a great opportunity for him and his family to get back closer to his mother-in-law is good for him and his wife," said Alvin Briggs, coach of the Greenville Tigers.

Briggs and Allen coached together for a short while, after Allen had relinquished his head coaching position and was an assistant. "He's got a lot of pride and he is going to do what it takes to build the program at Robert E. Lee back up to where it once was."

One has to ask that if Allen takes the job in Montgomery, will he try to re-unite with some members of the old coaching staff?

"I'm quite sure that if he has the talent he had here when he takes over, he'll be successful," said Harris.

"But he had some great coaches too when he was down here. I'm quite sure he's going to go out and bring some of the coaches he had here when he won the state championship. If he does, then that will be a plus on his part."