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Winfield Pirates have high expections despite late start

WINFIELD | Fate has a funny little way of working things out for the best in a way one least expects, and no one knows that better than David McKinney.

After he coached at Gordo for six seasons, an opportunity he felt he couldn’t pass up found him accepting the head job at North Jackson High School. When logistics couldn’t be worked out for his wife to transfer her career, fate played its hand. In a series of events that involved a domino effect of coaching moves, the job at Winfield came open, and in April McKinney was hired as the Pirates’ head coach.

“I know I’m in the right place,” McKinney said. “North Jackson is a great place, and if my wife’s job and my family could have come there, I’d still be there. But I’m in a very great place right now, also. Somebody was looking after me for this opportunity to come open. This community and this school have welcomed us with open arms and are doing everything they can do to help us have a successful program.”

Winfield finished 4-6 last season, a record McKinney and his coaching staff are determined to right. He’s only been around his players a short time, but already he knows his team shares that vision.

“Our kids’ work ethic and attitude are great,” McKinney said. “They do what you ask them to do, and they’re going to do it to the best of their ability. They’re catching on to what we’re trying to do. We’re going to improve as the year goes on. We’re doing some things that they haven’t done, and we’re going to get better as they keep doing them.”

The Pirates have 12 seniors returning but will also look to a large corps of sophomores and juniors, a move that will help Winfield in the near future.

An example of that contrast involves senior quarterback Nathan Dean and sophomore quarterback Jordan Hunt, both of whom are expected to see playing time.

“They’re both fairly good athletes,” McKinney said. “We’re trying to throw the ball a little bit. They have never thrown it a lot here, so they’re learning how to do some of that. They both have done a real good job. Both have good arms, and they’re getting more knowledgeable of the offense and some of the things we’re trying to do right now.”

Xavier McCollum, who rushed for 1,300 yards in eight games last season, returns, along with running back Robby Boyd.

Winfield will employ a 4-3 defense with lineman Drake Pollard, end Colton Spratlin and Boyd at inside linebacker. Twin brothers, sophomores Cody and Kyle Nixon, will both play cornerback.

“Our goal is the state championship,” McKinney said. “That’s what I told our kids the first day. If it’s not your goal, you’re in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. I told them I wanted to be loading that bus for Tuscaloosa (site of the Super 6) in December.”



TWO-MINUTE DRILL School: Winfield High School Classification: AHSAA Class 3A, Region 7

2012 Record: 4-6 Playoffs: none Head coach: David McKinney (first year at Winfield)

Assistant coaches: Steve Reeves, outside linebackers; Ryan Carruthers, defensive line; Evan Shipp, offensive line; Zac Wakefield, defensive backs; Allan Smith, receivers; Kenneth McKinney, running backs; Alan Aldridge, running backs

Returning starters: 8

Keep an eye on: OL/DL Drake Pollard (5-10, 250, Sr.), RB/OLB Xavier McCollum (6-0, 155, Jr.), LB/RB Robby Boyd (5-9, 175, Jr.)

Key games: Sept. 6 Winston County, Sept. 20 at Cordova, Oct. 11 Hamilton


Aug. 29 at Brilliant Sept. 6 Winston County* Sept. 13 Danville* Sept. 20 at Cordova* Sept. 27 at Haleyville Oct. 4 at Hanceville* Oct. 11 Hamilton* Oct. 18 at Vinemont* Oct. 25 Good Hope* Nov. 1 Lamar County * Denotes region game