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News Story
Updated: 11/07/2013 08:00:02AM

The end of an era

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At practice, DeSoto Panther coach Monty McLeod points out something to his long time assistant Al Blackwood. They’ve been coaching together for 23 years.


After his final game as Head Coach of the DeSoto County Middle School Panthers, McLeod thanks his team for their effort given in their final game. McLeod is 78-11 in his career as the Panthers coach, including a 6-2 record this season.


The DeSoto County Middle School football coaches get together for the final time on the football field. From the left, Coach Turner, Al Blackwood, Monty McLeod, Arthur Wiley and Sherley Hairston.

By Steve Knapp

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As Monty McLeod walked off the football field following the season finale for the DeSoto County Middle School, there was a sadness hovering over him. It wasn’t because his team lost their final game to Hardee 16-14. The sadness came from knowing his coaching career was over. “I’m tired, just plain tired,” McLeod said. With a record of 78-11 as the Panthers’ coach, he has given a lot of his time and energy to the program.

McLeod has coached for 43 years. That is a lot of time away from his family and a lot of kids to mentor. It’s a countless number of kids that he gave rides home after practice and tons of food he’s bought over the years for his players, or his “sons” as he calls them. Even in the final four minutes of his last game, his mind was on his players. He kept asking everybody on the sidelines, “Have you played tonight?” He wanted to make sure everybody got a chance to be in the last game of the season.

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