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(Editor’s note: As has been the tradition in recent years, employees of the Decatur Daily Democrat are polled in mid-December and asked to cast their votes for what they believe to be the top news stories of the year. Today’s entry was voted the No. 10 story of 2011.)
Two weeks after the North Adams school board voted 3-2 to hire a varsity football coach, only to watch that coaching candidate walk away, the board in late May finally filled the vacancy. It proved to be a successful hire, with the Bellmont Braves coming alive late in the season en route to a sectional championship and eventually ending the season with a 6-7 record.
But there was controversy before the new coach ever took the field, ranking the hiring as the No. 10 news story of the year as voted by employees of the Decatur Daily Democrat.
Larry Getts, who served as the head football coach at Wayne High School from 2005-2009, was selected to take over the reins of the Bellmont Braves gridiron program and to teach high school history and physical education at the school. Board members voted 5-0 to approve Getts’ hiring in the only business transacted during a three-minute special meeting.
Getts succeed Rick Burkhalter in heading up the varsity football program at Bellmont. He was the second coach hired in a month by the board. At the May 10 meeting, board members voted 3-2 to offer the coaching/teaching position to Nate Andrews. Less than a week later, apparently upset at the perceived lack of support from the board, Andrews rejected the offer.
Following his official hiring, Getts said he was aware of the controversy that surrounded the coaching position.
“There’s always someone before you and someone after you. I’m just happy to have a job,” said Getts, who lost his teaching and coaching position at Wayne last year due to budget cuts and a reduction in staff at that school. He spent the 2010 season as a volunteer assistant football coach at Harding High School.
A native of Whiting, Getts has been a football coach for more than 20 years at high schools in Ohio, Florida and Texas. He has 13 years of experience as a high school varsity coach, eight years as an offensive coordinator and six years as a defensive coordinator. He has also guided teams at the semi-pro level, including a year spent in Germany.