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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Tim Starkey, right, runs a play during a Marion County football practice in June 2020. Starkey, an assistant for the Warriors for six years, has been promoted to head coach, filling the vacancy created Friday when Dale Pruitt stepped down after two winning seasons to take a job in Alabama.

The coaching search for Marion County High School's football program took very little time.

Shortly after the resignation of Dale Pruitt — who stepped down Friday to return to his alma mater, Plainview in Rainesville, Alabama — Marion administrators promoted veteran assistant Tim Starkey to head coach.

"With the timing, we felt our number one priority was to take care of our kids and have someone they were familiar with in place," said Larry Ziegler, Marion's principal. "We had a couple of great choices on the staff, which was a huge relief, and we chose Coach Starkey.

"What has stood out to me about him is how he interacts with the boys and how they respond to him. We felt like he was the best choice for the job."

Starkey has been a Warriors assistant for six years, including the past three as offensive coordinator. A 2000 graduate of South Pittsburg, he played quarterback and defensive back on the Pirates' 1999 state championship team and worked as an assistant at his alma mater on its 2007 state title team.

Pruitt stepped down after a two-year stint in which he compiled a 16-6 overall record and the Warriors reached the second round of the Class 2A playoffs each season.

Tristan Chubb, who has also been a Warriors assistant, was also named defensive coordinator and co-assistant head coach.

"I'm fortunate and blessed to be in the position I am," Starkey said. "I didn't expect it to happen now, especially with the circumstances of not expecting Coach Pruitt to leave, but I feel like I've worked hard to get to this point and I'm excited to get started.

"I feel like this is a good fit because I'm familiar with the parents and the community. It's a dream come true."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

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