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Donald takes over as SSS head football coach

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SMITHFIELD — The Smithfield-Selma High football program has found its next head coach in Deron Donald, the Spartans announced in a press conference Friday afternoon.

“I’m just excited about this opportunity,” Donald said. “I think there’s some great young men, great people here. I felt that when I came to interview with the administration, which is awesome. So anytime you got administration as serious about that, have the passion about being great. That’s what you want to be.”

Donald, a Fort Lauderdale native who had been the head coach at Fayetteville E.E. Smith for the past four seasons, becomes the fifth head coach for the program in 10 years after rising to the top of an applicant pool that included more than 40 coaches. 

Donald resigned from his post with the Golden Bulls at the end of last season after four seasons, when he compiled a 16-31 record there. E.E. Smith reached the playoffs twice during his tenure and his best season with the program came with a 9-4 mark in 2017. 

But now that his son will be graduating from the school, Donald said he is ready to turn his attention toward a new challenge just up I-95 from Fayetteville. 

That challenge he takes on will be a daunting one to take a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2008 back to success on the gridiron. Donald inherits the program from Mike Parrish, who went a combined 3-30 over three seasons, which was a sign of improvement for the program. The last multi-win season came in 2014.

“We’ve got some work to do,” SSS Principal David K. Allen said in his remarks. “We we know what our record looks like. And we believe we’ve got a gentleman who’s also studied the stats, knows our numbers and honors the challenges we faced, but yet he sees opportunity.”

Donald noted similarities he saw between E.E. Smith and SSS, given both play in competitive 3-A conferences and both schools have a lot of potential to grow. 

That experience being in Fayetteville will be valuable to him, Donald said.

“One of the things I’ve kind of I felt like this school is kind of similar in a sense to E.E. Smith,” Donald said. “And so I think my experience at E.E. Smith got me to the place where I felt like I could take on this challenge and attack this job here on because some of the same dynamics and struggles that we faced at E.E. Smith. So that’s one of the things that made me really want to take this position.”

After holding his press conference and answering questions with the media, Donald took the first step in meeting his new players. He will be on staff as a physical education teacher at the school and he’s ready to get to work. 

“Anytime you go to something new, it will always give you new excitement,” Donald said. “And so that’s one of the things is coming into a new environment, a new area. I don’t know anyone here, so it’s a fresh start for me as well. And so I’m excited about just the opportunity to do something different. And also, you know, we have nowhere to go but up.”