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May 25, 2014

Roff gives another rookie coach a chance

Ada — New Roff boys basketball coach Clay Plunk is in good company.

The Roff School administration has had great success when choosing rookie coaches to lead its boys basketball program.

Larry Johnston had never coached a high school game but led the Tigers to the Class B state championship game in 2004.

Darrick Farriell followed, and that young coach guided his Roff squad to three state tournament appearances.

Then there was Kale Simon, who had just a year under his belt as a head coach (Simon won just one game at Dickson High School) before arriving at Roff. He then guided the Tigers to several state tournament berths.

Finally, rookie Bo Thomason took over during the 2011-12 campaign and got Roff back in the hunt for a state title last year even though the Tigers fell just two points shy of playing the final week of the season.

After Thomason recently announced he was leaving to take over the girls basketball team at Amber-Pocasset, Roff was again on the hunt for a new boys coach. And again the folks at Roff chose a prospect with no head coaching experience at the varsity level.

People have and surely will continue to give Plunk a hard time about his “connection” to Roff. He’s engaged to J.J. Stewart, the daughter of outgoing (and well-respected) Roff athletic director Mike Stewart, who has announced his retirement.

“She has a little bit of pull over there. She’s awesome. They love her,” Plunk said when jokingly asked if he thought that might have helped his cause. “You joked about it, but I’m sure some people are going to talk about why I got this job and that stuff, but that doesn’t concern me.”

Mike Stewart, in likely his last interview as Roff athletic director, played along.

“That might have actually worked against him,” he said.

No, but really.

“I think he's a great hire. I don't want people to think I'm going to say good things about him because he's about to be my son-in-law. I would say good things about him no matter what. I think he'll do a great job,” Stewart said.

“He's a great kid. Some people might say he's young, but we've had pretty good experience with some young coaches before,” he pointed out. “For example, Larry Johnston hadn't coached a high school game before he came in. Kale Simon had only coached one year. I think they've proven they were pretty good coaches.”

Ead Simon, Roff’s veteran baseball coach, is expected to take on some athletic director duties during the 2014-15 school year. He also had high praise for Plunk.

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