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Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2010

Andalusia defensive line coach Ernie Ragland watches players at practice this week. This is Ragland’s first year as a coach in Andalusia, and his 15th year as a coach. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

New Andalusia defensive line coach Ernie Ragland says his primary goal this season is to get himself a “big fatty” on his finger.

Ragland will start his 15th year as a coach this season, and fourth year as a coach in Alabama.

Before spending the past three years as the defensive line and head track and field coach at Eufaula, Ragland had a long coaching stint in Oklahoma.

A native of Boynton, Okla., Ragland volunteered as a coach at his alma mater at Locustgrove High School, coaching the offensive and defensive lines during the 1996-97 and his first paying job came in Dodge City, Kan.

Ragland hasn’t always been a defensive line coach. While in Oklahoma, he was the head coach of three sports — football, powerlifting and track and field.

In addition, he has some experience as a wrestling coach.

Ragland said he hopes to be able to use his experience in multiple sports to help Andalusia’s football team have a succesful season.

“For 15 years, I’ve seen football from (Class) 6A all the way down to eight-man,” he said. “So, I’ve seen football on the college and pro level. I don’t coach these guys to be high school football players. I coach these guys to be college football players.

“I coach these guys the same drills that colleges do,” he said. “That way, if they’re getting recruited, they have a better chance at stepping in, and getting some playing time in college.”

As a student, Ragland’s athletic history dates back to when he started playing basketball in kindergarten. He stopped playing basketball in the ninth grade to pursue football in high school.

He was a 4-sport athlete in high school, and played two years at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., while in college.

Ragland said his powerlifting experience speaks for itself.

He is the two-time National Athletes Strength Association national champion power lifter, and has claimed six titles in Oklahoma. He currently holds the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters record for the dead lift, which he set back in 1998, lifting 771 pounds.

On football, Ragland said wrestling has a lot of influence in the sport, he said.

Ragland said his coaching philosophy lies in the way he treats others.

“I just try to treat them (players) the way I want my sons to be treated,” he said. “I’m hard, but I’m fair. I try to get the most out of them. I try to take average players and bring them up to be good players, and take a great player and make him even greater.

“I just demand a lot from them, but at the same time I expect the same demand from me when I coach them well enough to win ball games,” he said.

Ragland said his expectation this season is to win a state championship.

“Nothing less,” he said. “I’ve been at it for 15 years. I’ve been to the semi-finals twice as a coach, and once as a player. I’d like to have a big fatty on my finger.”

Ragland has a wife of 23 years, Rexann; three sons, 22-year-old Matthew, 20-year-old Jordan (who is playing football in Oklahoma) and 13-year-old Jarod, who plays football at AMS.

He is the physical education teacher at AES.

“I’m glad to be here,” Ragland said. “I like the town. Right now, I like the attitude I’m getting from the players. Everybody is working hard, and doing what I ask them to do.”