Miller resigns, Estes named Blue Devils' football coach
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
FALKVILLE – Falkville football coach Jeff Miller wanted to spend more time with his infant son, so he decided earlier this year to resign as Blue Devils football coach. When Miller informed basketball coaches Yancey Randolph and Neil Estes of his decision, Estes, who had served as Miller defensive coordinator in the last two seasons, knew it would be a dream for him to be the head football coach at his alma mater. On March 22, Falkville principal Sue Wood called Estes into her office during the final period of the day. By the time Estes left Wood's office, his dream had become reality.
Estes is expected to be approved by the Morgan County School Board as new Blue Devil coach during the board's April 14 meeting.
Estes inherits a team coming off a winless season in 2004. He has no illusions about being a savior for the program.
"A new coach won't change 0-10," Estes said. "The attitude has to change. That comes from the players. You have to be concerned about the mindset of the players after a winless season. But my job is to motivate them and keep them positive. The players have to see we won't get a payday (win) until we do all the work we need to in the weight room and on the practice field."
Winning is a secondary goal for his coaches, according to Estes.
"We hope to teach the players life lessons," Estes said. "We want them to learn if you can commit to a football team, you can commit to a marriage. You can commit to a job and to your friends. Making them better people is my number one goal. I want them to learn things they can use long after their playing days are over."
Estes becomes only the second Blue Devil grad to coach the school's football team. The first was JC Pettey, who later went on to fame at Hartselle High.
Pettey graduated from Falkville in 1929 and coached the Blue Devils' football team from 1940 until he entered World War II in 1944.
Estes, who lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track while a Falkville student, is currently in his 18th season of coaching. He has taught economics and history at the school since 1988, with the exception of one season he spent at Robertsdale High School in Baldwin County.
Estes served as the Lady Blue Devils head basketball coach from 1988 until the end of the 2001 season.
He has been an assistant for the boys' team for the past three seasons.
Estes, who graduated from The University of Alabama in 1987, and his wife Dawn have three children, Lauren, a freshman on the Lady Blue Devil track team, Natalee, a sixth grade,r and Aaron, a third grader.
The Blue Devils will remain with the base defensive package he has used the last two seasons. However, for his offense, Estes plans to use the approach of another defensive coordinator turned head coach, Bob Stoops.
When Stoops left Florida as defensive coordinator after the 1998 season to become head coach at Oklahoma, he hired Kentucky offensive coordinator Mike Leach to run his offense.
Stoops wanted to run an offense that had given him problems as a defensive coach.
"We all borrow from each other as football coaches," Estes said. "Everyone runs just about the same plays. It's just a difference of how you package them (with formations).
"I plan to run some formations on offense that I had problems defending as a coordinator."
Estes, 39, plans for his Blue Devils to open spring practice on May 2, but will not play a spring game.
"We're not going to play a spring game this year," Estes said. "So we don't have to worry about working on a game plan this spring.
"We just need to work on us this spring and get better."