Thornton resigns at Goshen

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 5, 2002

Sports Editor

Joe Thornton, who led Goshen High School to a region title and consecutive playoff appearances, is leaving the Eagles to take over as head football coach of 5A Saks High School in Anniston.

"It’s tough to leave Goshen," said Thornton by telephone on Thursday night. "It’s a great place to coach and the people are just wonderful. They really care for, and about you. But it just came down to what was best for my family."

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Thornton will work out the length of his contract at GHS, which is scheduled to expire in May. He leaves Goshen with a 21-12 overall coaching record.

"I don’t think Goshen will have any problems in finding a head coach," Thornton said. "The teachers and the kids are just top notch."

Thornton said one of the reasons he took the job at Saks, was it would allow himself and his wife, Karen, a chance to teach in the same school system. He and his family will attend a reception in his honor at Saks High School on Saturday.

Thornton’s time as head football coach at Goshen High School was short, but sweet.

The Eagles stumbled to a 4-6 record in 1999, Thornton’s first-year ever as a head coach,

and missed the playoffs because of a close late season loss to Luverne.

But success was just around the corner.

A big believer in offseason conditioning, Thornton put his Eagles in the weight room and, in the spring of 2000, Goshen’s powerlifting team captured a Class 2A state title. That hard work carried over to the football season, where the Eagles posted a county-best 10-2 record, spent virtually the entire year ranked in the top ten, and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. Thornton’s defense was one of the top five units in the state and his offense was balanced to near-perfection, relying heavily on the rushing of tailback Dee Brundidge, passing of senior quarterback Michael Hatten, and gamebreaking ability of All-State wide out Jamar Tucker.

Injuries, graduation and off field problems appeared to kill the Eagles chances of a second straight trip to the playoffs, but Thornton turned the negatives into positives.

The Eagles suffered through a string of early defeats in 2001, only to bounce back and win the Class 2A Region 2 championship, claiming close victory after close victory en route to yet another second round finish and 7-4 record.