Opp BOE taps Rigby as Bobcat football coach, athletic director

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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The Opp City Schools Board of Education hired veteran Wiregrass football coach Ed Rigby to lead the Bobcats in 2024.

Rigby will lead the Bobcats this fall as he enters his 12th season as a head coach in the state of Alabama, 24th season as a head coach, and 34th overall in coaching.

“I would like to thank the school board, superintendent Michael Smithart, and principal Matt Blake for this opportunity. Several good things come out of city school systems with many state championships in football, and that’s why we’re here,” Rigby said. “The Opp program is on the rise, and Matt Brunson instilled discipline and strength. He got the program moving in a direction I want to build on. We are different, but one thing we don’t have a difference on is discipline and the weight room. That’s where you win and I love it.”

Rigby added that his first introduction to Opp was in 1977 sitting in a Winnebago at the racetrack for the Rattlesnake Rodeo.

“The Winnebago had orange shag carpet with an 8-track in it. We were rocking through the night and waiting for the gates to open. We ate a little bit of that rattlesnake, which I swore was chicken back then. Who would have thought we would end up back here tonight all these years later?”

His career began as an assistant coach for Independence High School in Louisiana before he took on similar roles in Mississippi at Northwest Rankin High School and Mendenhall High School.

Rigby’s first head coaching position came in 1994 with Albany High School in Louisiana, where he was 12-9 over two seasons. Rigby then stayed in Louisiana and moved to Loranger High School, where he compiled a 20-22 record in four years. He was named the Class 2A Coach of the Year in 1998 and led the program to an undefeated district championship, 10-win season, and playoff win.

He took on assistant roles at Tabor College in Kansas, Holmes Community College in Mississippi, and Jackson State University in Mississippi. He accepted a head coaching position with Tate High School out of Florida in 2006 and went 21-40 over six seasons.

Rigby was the offensive coordinator at Goshen High School in 2012 before a five-year stretch at Elba from 2013 through 2017. He went 53-12 at the helm of the Tigers including an 11-4 playoff record and won a state championship in 2015 with a 14-1 record. Ironically, his only loss that season was a six-point home setback to Opp.

Rigby moved to Eufaula and went 28-18 from 2018 to 2021. He finished 7-5 at Pike Road in 2022 and 7-4 at Luverne in 2023.

“I really want to give a shout-out to the players. It’s tough when you lose a head coach at this point three months out. Luverne will be going through the same thing this summer. These are kids you love and care about, but life sometimes has changes like this. When an opportunity arises like this, you and your family want to jump at that opportunity. I’m appreciative of this opportunity,” Rigby said.

His overall high school record entering the 2024 season is 148-110 and 95-39 in Alabama. One of Rigby’s biggest goals is to bring Opp its first state championship on the gridiron.

“Once you do it (win the championship) one time, you understand what it takes to get there. All of the pieces of the puzzle are there, but you have to adjust throughout the season. I’ve been blessed to be at places with great coaches and talent, and it all fell into place. After that first one, you know what that road map is. The road map in 4A football in Alabama goes through Opp, Alabama. The puzzle pieces and community’s support are here. This was an opportunity that arose, and now that this town has championships in cheer and softball, it is hungry for its first state championship in football,” he said.

He also wants to assist the players and help them reach their full potential.

“I am here to grow these young men to be the best they can be and have character. We need men this community and our country can be proud of. Following that up is a state championship. You might lose four or five ballgames, and everybody gets healthy at the end. I’m going to preach state championship to the point it becomes a broken record. Rigby said.

Opp will host Brantley in a preseason game on Friday, August 23. Rigby’s official debut with the Bobcats will come a week later on Friday, August 30, at home against Northview (Florida).

“I will take everything the coaches have built and take that staff to move it forward. I will see where I can fit in and what I can bring to the table. I know most of the men on this staff. There are some great guys here, and we want to keep moving forward,” he said.

Opp High School Principal Matt Blake said June was not the typical time to hire a football coach with summer workouts starting this week.

“When Coach Brunson told us he was leaving, I felt it was very important to act fast but get it right. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to bring in a caliber coach like Ed Rigby. He has won everywhere he’s been, and his teams are built around the weight room. Opp wants to be identified as a hard-nosed, discipline-minded team who works together. We felt Coach Rigby brought all of those things to the table. He has an infectious personality and high energy. Any time you hire a coach, you want to find the best fit for your school, the community, and most importantly, the players. I feel like we hit a home run in all three of those areas,” Blake said.

He is married to Troy University women’s basketball coach Chanda Rigby with two sons, Ramsey (Salomé) Rigby, 26, and Randon Rigby, 24. He and his wife welcomed their first granddaughter, Caroline Lee Rigby, last week. Ramsey, who played football for Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, is in the Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Command. Randon, a Troy University graduate, works for Lockheed Martin.