French selected as Middlesboro football coach

The new football coach for Middlesboro High School is already a coaching legend.

Larry French, who was introduced as the next coach during a jam-packed event at the school cafeteria on Thursday, ranks sixth in Kentucky history with a record of 312-159, including two state championships, in his 40 years of coaching.

At his last stop at Southwestern High School in Somerset, French’s teams went 47-17 in five seasons, including three district titles and four regional championship games.

Middlesboro Schools Superintendent Waylon Allen, who announced French’s hiring, said the news has already generated a lot of excitment in the community.

“People have been calling me non-stop for about three days now, since we announced we were going to be doing this on Thursday,” Allen said. “It’s been bigger than I thought; this turnout is amazing. I’m just tickled to death for my kids and for the community.

“The number one thing that impressed me about coach French, is he is just a good man and a good person,” Allen said. “He’s not all about himself, he’s about the community and the kids.”

Prior to coaching Southwestern, French was the head coach of Mercer County, Meade County, Lincoln County and Boyle County.

“I came here because I like to be challenged,” French said, “and I’ve certainly got a challenge ahead of me. If we can get the players, the parents and the community as whole to buy in to what we’re trying to do, there’s not a doubt in my mind that we will win our fair share of ball games.”

French will begin working full-time at Middlesboro High School on Feb. 11.

“This is a great community full of great people and great athletes,” he said. “I think we can get this program back to where it needs, as long as we all buy into the process.”

Athletic Director Jesse Allen said: “A lot of people said there was no way that we were going to get coach French, but luckily for us, he likes these challenges he talks about and he’s willing to come here and build on what previous head coach (Zach) Massengill got started.”

Massengill had previously worked under French as an assistant at Lincoln and Boyle counties.

“If these players will do the things that he’s asking them to do, I’ve seen it work, the proof is there,” Massengill said. “The community has to support him and the athletes have to buy in to what he’s trying to do. If those things happen, he can build a winner, and that’s where we want to get back to.

“Everybody is very excited to have him here and he seems to be equally as excited,” Massengill said. “He likes change every once in a while. The community was ready for it; it’s been a tough few years, and I hate that. I’m very excited about the direction we are headed and if we all support him and understand that it is isn’t going to happen overnight, it will happen.”

A few of French’s new players, Aaron Rice, Josh Hensley and Connor Griffin were excited to meet their new coach.

“I’m excited to see what he does with the team,” Rice said. “I’m excited to see what changes he makes and I’m just hoping for the best.”

“He seems like the right man to turn this program around and we’re ready to get started,” Hensley said.

Griffin said: “We are going to do everything possible to make him proud of us, and the community proud of us, and turn this program around.”

French wants everyone to be a part of the program.

“We want the parents, the cheerleaders, the band and everyone involved in this,” French said.

Addressing his players, French said, “If we stay committed, if we work hard and we have fun, those three things will take us wherever we want to go. We are a family. When you walk through town with something that says “Yellowjackets” on it, I want you to be proud and I want people to know that you are an upstanding member of this community.”