St. James football head coaching search down to three finalists

For The Sun NewsMarch 25, 2014 

St. James is one step closer to replacing former football coach Mark Fischer.

On Tuesday, Horry County Schools released the names of the three finalists the school will decide between in the coming weeks. They are Georgetown coach Bradley Adams, Ayden-Grifton (N.C.) coach Paul Cornwell and Luke Salmons, currently the coach at Cabell Midland (W.Va.).

The hiring of the position, which the Sharks hope to fill prior to the start of spring practice opening on May 5, could be slightly ahead of schedule. Horry County Schools did not release an updated timeline for the hire when it released the finalists’ names on Tuesday.

The school previously estimated that it received 55-60 applications for the opening, although the final numbers from the district were not immediately available.

Whoever is ultimately named will be the third coach in program history.

Adams is 23-19 in four seasons at Georgetown, and that includes a trip to the Class AAA playoffs in 2011 and 2012. The Bulldogs missed out on a third straight trip to the postseason last fall when they fell just short of the points to earn an at-large spot.

When reached Tuesday, Adams said he preferred not to comment at this time.

Cornwell, who is 87-36 in nine seasons at Ayden-Grifton, was named the Carolina Panthers High School Coach of the Year, an honor given to the top coach in either North Carolina or South Carolina by the NFL franchise. Cornwell, according to media reports, has a strong tradition of service with his team. His wife, Carrie, is also a teacher in North Carolina. He was recently named as the athletics director at Ayden-Grifton, in addition to his football duties.

Salmons, a former Marshall University offensive lineman, was named the head coach at Cabell Midland in January of 2011 after spending three seasons at Lawrence County (Ky.). He was 22-15 at Lawrence County before helping Midland to a 30-8 record in the last three years.

Salmons led the Knights to the West Virginia Class AAA state finals in 2012.

Fischer, who resigned from St. James in February to return to Louisa County (Va.), was 8-22 in three seasons with the Sharks. The team did not qualify for the playoffs while he was at the school, and the team has yet to have a winning record in 10 seasons of varsity football. Since the school launched the sport in 2004, the Sharks are 24-78.

This will be the second football opening to be filled in the county. Last week, Carolina Forest named Marc Morris as its next coach after Drew Hummel stepped down following eight seasons with the Panthers.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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