Central-Phenix City vs. Hoover high school football

Central-Phenix City head coach Jamey DuBose gives a pre-game speech prior to the Central-Phenix City vs. Hoover high school football game at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery on Aug. 23.

Tuesday’s news that Central-Phenix City head coach Jamey DuBose was leaving was a tough blow for a football program that has become one of the most competitive in Class 7A. For the players who got to work with DuBose on a daily basis, it was even tougher.

Several Central players spoke highly of DuBose following his decision to leave Phenix City after six seasons. Their words demonstrated not just what DuBose meant as a football coach but also as a mentor to countless players over his tenure.

“Coach DuBose has basically raised me along with the other coaches and my mom. I can’t explain how much he has done for me, but I’m forever grateful,” Central offensive lineman and Alabama signee Javion Cohen said. “Before I began playing football for him and his staff, I was a misled young man lacking a father figure or a strong role model. By him bringing me into his family and his program, it’s allowed me to become a better person first and foremost, a better student and a better player.

“All my success I owe to my Heavenly Father, my mother, Coach DuBose and his staff.”

Central quarterback Tucker Melton described DuBose as talented coach who leads his teams by example. Melton said DuBose was a coach who doesn’t take anything lightly, and DuBose always knew when to get after him to motivate him to play well.

That intensity, according to Melton, was what drew so many Red Devils’ players to follow DuBose’s lead. It paid off in a big way in DuBose’s final two seasons at the helm, as Central won 26 games, captured two Region 2-7A titles, played for two state titles and won the 2018 championship.

Melton, who is now an early enrollee at Bowling Green, credited DuBose for helping him get this far as a quarterback.

“He was definitely one of the biggest parts of getting me to where I am today. I couldn’t be more thankful to have played for him and the rest of the coaching staff at Central,” Melton said. “He’s an amazing coach but an even better man.”

Melton and Cohen were two of seven Central players who signed with FBS programs during the December early signing period, which was a moment that demonstrated the power of the program DuBose and his assistants built in Phenix City..

Central linebacker PJ Ramsey, who signed to play at Air Force, pointed to DuBose’s high standards within the program as being beneficial as Ramsey takes the next step in his athletic career.

“Playing football at Central is basically like playing at a college,” Ramsey said after signing. “Everything we do — from two-a-days to having (practices) after school for long hours, it just really prepares you for college life and what it is going to take to be successful.”

As far as DuBose’s next stop, Melton said he would tell his soon-to-be players to expect a coach who wants to win and someone who will care for them but also show them plenty of tough love. He said it’s important for them to buy into DuBose’s philosophy, and if they want someone who will care about them and help them win championships DuBose will be that coach.

When he signed with the Crimson Tide, Cohen recounted the time DuBose and his coaches got him a bed when he didn’t have one and them getting him food when he didn’t have that, either. DuBose will be remembered around Phenix City mostly for his work on the football field, but for players like Cohen, his impact was much bigger than that.

“I want the people to remember what he has brought to this city and to remember the many lives he has changed. He brought a championship that brought us all together,” Cohen said. “He changed many lives. For example, He took a kid who wasn’t on the good side of wealth and made him into a respectable young man who now has a future in front of him.

“The man deserves a statue, in my opinion, for how great he was.”

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