Cantrell excited to lead Florala Wildcats into next football season

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 8, 2022

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Jordan Cantrell wants to change lives through football and looks forward to his new role in Florala as the new head coach of the Wildcats.

“My family and I were looking for a school, community, and sports program to work in and grow with. We looked at what we thought would be a good fit across the state and found Florala on the TeachinAlabama website. We researched the school, community, and past of Florala football and thought it would be great to pursue. We are glad it worked out that way and happy to be here,” Cantrell said.

He is looking forward to working with the school’s athletes the most.

“I want to win football games, but it’s not about me. It’s about the kids, and developing those relationships is the cool thing about coaching. We want to build that trust and those relationships and make it a family-type atmosphere. Even though I am coming in late, I have met with most of the coaches, and there are some great men here. The kids really respect these men, so you want to keep them with you. The kids I have met have talked to me about how much they respect these coaches.”

Jordan Cantrell

His philosophy is to change kids’ lives through the sport.

“Football changed my life at a time of my life when I didn’t have any friends. I was a missionary’s son and lived overseas before I came back as an eighth-grader. I wasn’t interested in playing football, but my dad made me play. It changed my life and helped me make friends. It teaches you work ethic and lets you form bonds. The X’s and O’s will come, but the philosophy is to change lives through football,” he said.

The 2022 season will be Cantrell’s ninth year coaching football. He comes to Florala from Elmore County High School in Eclectic, Alabama, where he served as the head coach from 2018 to 2021. Prior to his tenure at ECHS, he was the head coach at West Limestone High School in Lester, Alabama, from 2014 to 2017.

“We have more assistant coaches here than we did at Elmore County. A lot of our kids had to play both ways offensively and defensively. I don’t think it will be a great change from the bigger schools, and we love the small-town feel of Florala.”

He added that it is wonderful to have the opportunity of leading the Wildcats. “We are really excited, and when I was offered the job, my wife and I prayed together. We felt led that this is where God wanted us to be, and it’s an honor to be here. We are the type of people who want to be somewhere for a long time. It means a lot to us.”

Cantrell graduated from East Limestone High School in 2002 and received his bachelor’s in Physical Education from Athens State University in 2007.

“I am a players’ coach and think you really have to have discipline in today’s age. I want to develop relationships with these kids and show that we care about them. We will care about these kids and coach them hard but love them even more. Building relationships and having an open door, communicating with them, and letting them communicate with us is good,” he said.

His vision for the FHS program is to see the athletes continuing to work hard, care about one another, and leave a legacy for the future.

“We want to win football games, and you have to win, but we also want to build a family-type atmosphere. Everybody cares about everybody. All the sports work together, and we all have that vision of making Florala better and making these kids better.”

Cantrell said he wants to lead by example when keeping his players motivated and encouraged. “I am a high-energy guy, and if you have high energy, they will have it as well. There are going to be tough times no doubt, but we have to have that energy and show them by example. I’m not afraid to get in there and work out with them. It all goes back to having that high energy even during the low points and them knowing you care.”

Having the support of the community is crucial to have for success.

“Our program has to build excitement and be excited about our school’s sports. That excitement will get kids wanting to participate. There are so many things that keep kids occupied these days. They need their community to support them and be fired up. I’m not talking about just football, but there is some sport or extracurricular activity that these kids can be doing. The community support is big, and it will be our job to get the community fired up about these sports and extracurricular activities,” Cantrell said.

He is married to his wife of 15 years, Jaimee Cantrell. They have three children: Kaden, 13; Holden, 10; and Evee Jaimes, 6.

His first game is scheduled for Friday, August 26, at home against county rival Red Level.