Hoover residents show support for suspended Spain Park coach

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

A few Hoover residents spoke out in support of suspended Spain Park High School head football coach David Shores at a Hoover City School Board meeting Sept. 7, including Ron Harris, a past president of the Spain Park booster club.

Shores was placed on paid administrative leave following an alleged physical altercation with a player at a team practice Aug. 24. An investigation into the incident by the Hoover City School Board has been ongoing since the incident occurred.

Shores and retiring Spain Park athletic director Gena Morris, who have both questioned the objectivity of the board’s investigation into the incident, attended the board meeting Sept. 7.

Parents of former and current players spoke in support of Shores, including Stacy Payne, the mother of senior team captain Alex Payne.

Harris, whose son Rob played for Shores last season, said he doesn’t have a son on the team this season. Harris said he felt compelled to speak out in support of Shores because his son “loved Coach Shores.”

“Coach Shores is tough, but he is fair,” Harris said. “He’s a hard-nosed coach and he tries to get the best out of his players. I find it extremely unlikely that he would have instigated an altercation with a player.”

Hoover City Schools spokesperson Jason Gaston said the board went into executive session to discuss the incident involving Shores after hearing comments from the public during the routinely scheduled school board meeting.

Gaston said the board members adjourned from the more than two-hour-long executive session meeting without taking any action concerning Shores’ coaching status at the school.

Shores and Morris were not immediately available for comment.

Shores responded with shock and disappointment after being placed on paid administrative leave in a statement released Aug. 27.

“I am shocked and disappointed by the handling of this entire situation, including the fact that I have been placed on administrative leave,” Shores said.

Shores claims he was attacked by one of his players during the practice and didn’t respond with physical aggression. Shores said the player was sent home from practice.

“A student-athlete on my team lost his cool and attacked me during a physical football drill at practice on Tuesday,” Shores said. “I did not retaliate or otherwise fight back.  Other coaches pulled the student off of me and we sent him home.”

Shores said he expects to be reinstated as the Jaguars’ head coach.

“Hopefully this will be over soon and we can get back to our lives and back to focusing on educating these students and playing football,” Shores said. “If not, the Spain Park students and our football team will be the ones that suffer, and I will not stand for that because I care for these kids, their well-being and our school.  I expect to be reinstated soon.”

In the wake of the incident, Morris announced her retirement Aug. 28.

Morris, who said she was not involved in the Hoover City School Board’s investigation of the incident, questioned its objectivity in a statement she released when announcing her retirement.

“The recent investigation of our head football coach has been inappropriately handled, creating not only an adverse impact on the reputation of our head coach, but also that of our football team,” Morris said. “I can not in good conscience sit idly by while this injustice is occurring. As the athletic director, I have had no involvement in the investigation, have had no input into any decisions that have been made, and I find it impossible to comprehend how I could be left out of such an important matter in our athletic department.”

“After 10 years, I am sad that I found it necessary to retire due to the lowering of the high standards which has guided Spain Park all these years. When politics and hidden agendas of some leaders in the Hoover school system begin to erode these standards and compromise the quality of our programs through the undermining of our coaches and staff, the high standards of this program can not be maintained.”

Shores has compiled a 14-9 record in his first two seasons as the Jaguars’ head coach. Shores, who served as the defensive coordinator under former coach John Grass during the Jaguars’ run to the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A championship game in 2007, led Spain Park to a 10-3 record and an appearance in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs in 2009.

Shores, a 1994 graduate of Elmore County High School, attended Auburn University as an undergrad. Shores played for the Tigers in 1996 and 1997 then began his coaching career as a student assistant in 1998. He served as a graduate assistant on Tommy Tuberville’s first Auburn staff before becoming a defensive assistant to Spence McCracken at Opelika High School for the next three seasons.

Shores then had his first opportunity to work in the Hoover school system when he accepted a job as a defensive assistant to Rush Propst at Hoover High School from 2002 to 2003, with the Bucs winning state titles both years. The 2004 season took Shores to LSU to serve as a defensive assistant to coaches Nick Saban and Will Muschamp. Upon returning to the Birmingham metro area in 2005, Shores served as the defensive coordinator at Pelham before taking over as the Spain Park defensive coordinator.

The Jaguars fell to Auburn, 30-3, in the 2010 Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Champions Challenge Aug. 21 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.

Playing under interim head coach Ben Berguson, Spain Park dropped its season opener Aug. 28 to Grayson (Ga.), 20-9, in the 2010 Progressive Football Challenge at North Gwinnett High School. In Berguson’s second game Sept. 3, the Jaguars fell to Hoover, 44-0.