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Bill Price

After 172 wins, numerous league titles and a state championship, Bill Price is retiring.

The Signal Mountain football coach met mid-morning on Monday with school principal Robin Copp to inform her of his decision.

"There are some opportunities out there in private business but also some to stay in the coaching field," Price said Monday afternoon. "I wanted to get the ball rolling here, so I went ahead and made the decision. They need to go ahead and make a decision here as far as replacing me."

Price went to Signal Mountain prior to the 2008 season and started the football program from the ground up, fielding a junior varsity team in 2008. His first varsity team posted a 10-2 record and won its first playoff game before getting eliminated the next week. However, his crowning moment came in 2010 when the Eagles won the Class 2A state title while compiling a 14-0 record.

"He's going to be missed, and his contribution to Signal Mountain football is unquestionable," Copp said. "I've known Bill for a long time, and he has a true heart for kids. People don't know how much he has done to help kids. He's going to be missed."

Copp said a search committee for Price's successor would be formed as soon as the job is posted.

"It would be nice to have somebody in place for spring practice," she said.

There are two former head coaches -- Troy Boeck and Barry Loyal -- already on the Signal Mountain faculty, and they will be considered although they don't appear to have an inside track.

"When we open it, it will have to be open-minded to everyone who applies," Copp said.

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Price will remain at the school until March 13, when his retirement will become official.

"I don't know right now what I'm going to do," he said. "I may go into private business, but then I also might wind up double-dipping."

"Double-dipping" is the term coaches use when they retire from one state system and go to another state system or a private school.

Price gained a reputation early in his career as a program builder, beginning with his first head coaching position at Lookout Valley as a 21-year-old who had just completed his playing career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. At Lookout Valley he took over a team that hadn't had a winning season in six years and produced back-to-back six-win seasons.

He then moved to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe for a year before returning to his high school alma mater, Red Bank, where he served as a football assistant to Tom Weathers and the school's baseball coach for five years.

Then in 1992 he went to Soddy-Daisy, which hadn't had a winning season since 1982. The Trojans went 1-9 before reeling off five straight winning years including 11-2 and 10-2 seasons back to back.

Other schools where Price has served as head coach include Hueytown (Ala.), Bradley Central and Coffee County.

The coach was hard-pressed to identify defining moments in his career.

"Most of the programs I took over were 0-10, so getting that first win for a program was always special," he said. "When I took over at Soddy-Daisy and we beat Red Bank for the first time in forever, well, that's one I'll remember because it was my alma mater. At Bradley one year we beat Sevier County in Game 8, and they eventually won the state championship."

And even as he mentioned the state championship at Signal Mountain, he said, "All those good times are caused by good players, good assistant coaches, great support and a little bit of luck. Every high school coach wants to win a state championship and there are only so many places you can go in Tennessee and have a shot to win one.

"As far as wins and losses go, winning a state championship is the ultimate thing you can do. But taking a team that hasn't won in a couple of years and turning that program around with a winning season is awfully close."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

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