Talladega#039;s Allen accepts R.E. Lee job

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 2, 2005

Tuesday night Gene Allen was unanimously voted in as the new head coach at Robert E. Lee High School despite only posting 13 wins in his five seasons at Talladega High School. Allen was in attendance at the vote.

"It was just part of the personnel package for him to be there," said Jim Barker Human Resources Director for the Montgomery Board of Education. "It was passed by a unanimous vote. He was introduced by the principal of Robert E. Lee High School. Went up and shook the hands of the board members and then made them aware that he is interested in the job."

After the unanimous decision to put Allen at the helm of an anemic General program, he fills the role as only the tenth person to fill the slot of head coach.

"It was pretty shocking, but I was glad my name came up," said Allen. "I know all about the tradition of Lee football. You start talking about football tradition, especially in the southern part of the state, you start with Lee."

Allen was voted into the position after Chris Baxter was dismissed for having improper relations with another school employee. The former Talladega High School Athletic Director was selected from a pool of 12 candidates that were interviewed by David Sikes, principal of Robert E. Lee High School.

"The interview process and the recommendation by the principal had taken place earlier in the week," said Barker.

Allen has been in the coaching field for 15 years, 10 of those being spent in Greenville where he led the Tigers to a runner-up finish in 1993 and then to the 5A State Championship in 1994.

"We were looking for somebody that was settled, a little more mature and had been a head coach for a little while," said Sikes. "Allen fit what we needed at this point."

Allen finished his career with the black and gold with a record of 79-33. Two of those losses came from the Generals of Robert E. Lee in 1992 and 1993.

Allen traded in the black and gold of Greenville for the black and red of Talladega.

But was never quite able to find the success in the middle of NASCAR country that he found in his hometown. In his first two seasons at the helm of the Talladega High School program, he posted two victories.

But over the next three years, his team's improved to consecutive 3-7 finishes.

Despite the slow progression, Allen still seems to be the perfect fit to turn a Generals' squad that finished last season winless back into a football power.

"I think that when you look at Gene's credentials," said Sikes, "his record and knowing what kind of man he is, it is tough to turn him down. The kids respect him and admire him. He is very easy to get along with. He knows he is not the reason but part of the reason."

Sikes and Allen coached together at Greenville High School for two years when Allen was the head coach and Sikes was an assistant.

Allen, a former defensive coordinator, promises to bring the Lee program back to the basics of football and put the focus back on the defense.

"I am from the old school," said Allen.

"We play defense first. Offense depends on what we have. We have run everything from two-tights to the I. We ran the spread the last couple of years at Talladega, but I am more of an I-Spread guy."

According to Barker, Allen will still be under contract at Talladega High until the end of the school year, but has been cleared to come in and coach spring training at Robert E. Lee High School.

The Generals had originally planned to participate in spring training earlier in the spring, but due to the suspension and eventual firing of Baxter, the practices were reset for a later date.

Allen said that Lee's current members of the coaching staff would continue in their positions through the end of the school year.

He said he would make decisions regarding next year's staff following an evaluation period during spring practice.

Allen mentioned that he would like to bring one or two members of his current staff with him to Lee.