Despite offer, Mantooth staying put

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2005

At some point in every person's career, the opportunity to return home is a major selling point. On Monday afternoon, Reggie Mantooth was confronted with that decision. The Fort Dale coach and athletic director was approached by Saint James High School out of Montgomery two weeks ago and then was offered the job last Wednesday. But, after much deliberation on Mantooth's part, he didn't accept the job.

"I didn't feel comfortable about the whole situation at Saint James," said Mantooth. "There were a lot of factors for me to consider. The people here have been really good to me and the situation here is better than the situation at Saint James."

The decision to stay wasn't an easy one. Mantooth said he struggled with it for two or three days.

"It's probably one of the toughest decisions I've had to make," said Mantooth.

Mantooth and Fort Dale Headmaster, David Brantley talked three times about Mantooth's future.

"I'm not surprised at all that he was approached or offered the job," said Brantley. "He's a very talented and has a lot to offer young people. I knew prior to his interview that he was going to speak with them, he and I talked this past weekend, on Saturday and a good bit more on Monday after they made the offer to him."

Mantooth, who is no stranger to the hallways of the home of the Trojans, spent his high school days there.

"It was an attraction to go back home, to go back to where I was from," said Mantooth.

If the Eagles skipper would have made the jump, he would have left the Alabama Independent School Association and for the first time in his career, coached in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Saint James is a 4A High School and competes against other 4A's such as Trinity Presbyterian, UMS Wright, Central High School of Coosa County, Saks and Shelby County.

A majority of those schools are perennial powers in at least one sport.

"Having the opportunity to compete in the AHSAA was a definite attraction," said Mantooth.

"People perceive it as a step up and it was a factor I considered."

By staying a Fort Dale Eagle, the 2005-2006 basketball season will mark Mantooth's 12th on the sidelines of the Red Blue.

"I think it's a compliment to our program that he was offered the job," said Brantley.

"I think it's also a compliment to both our program as well as our school that he decided to stay with us. We are delighted that he's staying and look forward to the future success he will continue bring to our basketball program."

During that time he has amassed a record of 439-140 including 20 Area championships, 13 Final Four appearances, five state championships and three times runner up to the AISA championship. He was also elected coach of the year on four separate occasions.

This past season, Mantooth guided his two sets of Eagles to area titles, although they took different roads to get there. The boys finished the season with a 13-13 mark, claiming the area crown but losing in their next two games.

They dropped the opening game of the area tournament to Hooper and then were eliminated from the Elite 8 tournament by Edgewood. The Lady Eagles posted a 20-plus-win season.

Fort Dale knocked off Morgan in the finals of the area tournament to win the area crown and then proceeded to send Macon-East Montgomery Academy and Glenwood School home from the tournament before falling in the state championship game to Faith Academy.

A spokesperson from Saint James High School was unavailable for comment on the story.