HALEYVILLE - Haleyville school officials agreed that the hiring of Chris Musso as head football coach for the high school was the right fit for the system for multiple reasons.
The board met in special session Friday, Jan. 18, 1:30 p.m. at the high school board room, and conducted the highly anticipated action of hiring a football coach, by unanimously approving Musso to the position.
Musso, who comes to HCS from Locust Fork High School where he served as head football coach 2013-present, was hired by the Haleyville board effective Jan. 28, as a 12-month employee on the state salary matrix.
Musso was hired at the basic salary of $70,342 annually, which is the salary matrix for a 12 month employee, according to HCS Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland.
Salary is also based on his 21 years of service, Dr. Sutherland indicated.
Board member Donna Jones made the motion to hire Musso as head football coach, with board member Kris Burleson seconding the motion.
All board members present voted in favor, including Jones, Burleson, Beth McAlpine and Steve Stott. Board President Barry Burleson was absent from the meeting.
After Musso was hired, Dr. Sutherland welcomed him on board. Musso attended the meeting with wife Jessica, daughter Mia, 7th grade, and Eli, a freshman.
“I would like to welcome the Musso family to Haleyville High School, and to the city of Haleyville and our community,” Dr. Sutherland began. “Coach Musso brings a lot of gifts and talents to our program.
“We were looking for a coach and family who would be an added value to our community,” Dr. Sutherland pointed out. “We believe we have found that in the Musso family.”
Musso then stood and began by thanking his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunities He had provided his family.
He also thanked board for this new opportunity.
“We look foward to serving this community,” Musso said. “We are not going to guarantee wins and losses, but are going to guarantee hard work.
“This journey is going to take a lot of steps, and we are going to start that when we leave here today,” Musso said. “I can’t wait to meet the guys, and I just look foward to serving you guys.”
Musso separately told the Alabamian that he was very impressed with HCS. “This school is outstanding,” he said.
“It’s second to none in everything I have seen in the classroom, everything it offers the students and the athletic facilities as well, and so it is just a great school, and I look forward to serving the community and the students here,” Musso added.
The most important issue in selecting a football coach was to find someone who loved the children in Haleyville, according to High School Principal Dr. Erika McCoy.
“Each and every conversation with him confirms that that’s the kind of man he is,” McCoy said. “I am really excited about him being an integral part of our Haleyville High School family.
“Character first, exhibiting good character traits, but also modeling those for our kids and having those expectations for our student athletes, and also holding them accountable. That is extremely important,” Dr. McCoy added.
Board member Jones, who made the motion to hire Musso, noted that the board reviewed over 78 applications for the position of head football coach.
“We searched for one who had the capabilities, motivation and character to build and move our football program forward,” said Jones.
“Coach Chris Musso stood out, because he has 10 years head coaching experience, coached and won the North/South All Star Game in 2018, great interview, carried the team to the playoffs three out of the last four years in a school very comparable to HHS and actually provided us with a copy of his plan to develop and build our young men into a strong, competitive and accountable football team,” Jones pointed out.
The board had to choose from over 70 total candidates that had submitted for the position after the resignation of now former head football coach Todd McNutt in late fall of 2018.
“Pulling from that large of a pool, we of course had very, very qualified applicants,” Dr. Sutherland noted.
The board narrowed this extensive list down to the four top applicants which were interviewed by school officials. Dr. Sutherland commended all of the top applicants for doing an outstanding job in the interview process.
“The thing which stood out the most to me about Coach Musso was just his drive, his passion for doing things the right way,” Dr. Sutherland noted.
“He expressed several times in the interview how important it was to build men of character and men, that no matter what their football career was, that they were going to do the right thing and they were going to treat people the right way, and they were going to work hard,” she added.
Dr. Sutherland was also impressed with Musso about his planning skills and his knowledge he has gained of the players and system since he was first called for an interview.
“He came in knowing kids by name and numbers, just by watching plays and watching film,” noted Dr. Suterland. “He brings a lot to the table, not only as a football coach but a man of character.”
Over the last few years, HCS has had several head football coaches, but although those coaches have changed, the pursuit of excellence, as far as developing young men who can go into a community and be a contributor, has not changed, Dr. Sutherland pointed out.
“We have been blessed by that,” she said. “We have a certain population of kids, who a strong male influence is important...We just feel like if we can get a strong football coach who is a family man, who does the right thing, who has great character, and also contributes to our community...that is a good hire,” Dr. Sutherland continued.
The school system has been blessed to have had coaches that are community minded, as well as have a servant’s heart, which is crucial when leading and shaping the lives of younger people, school officials indicated.
“(Musso) aligned with what we believed is best for our young men,” Dr. Sutherland said.
Coach Musso not only expressed what it takes to a strong planner both in season and off season but also in the weight program.
“He just had that total package of a plan of what he was going to do day one,” she said. “He has a coaches meeting planned. He has a parent meeting planned. He has the workouts already planned.”
Musso has visited the school’s weight room in his development of a good workout plan for his athletes, school officials said.
“He has his entire program divided up into quarters,” Dr. Sutherland said. “He brings a lot to the table for our athletes, and he’s a guy I want my child to be around.”
Now that Musso is hired, the school plans on restructuring their coaching positions, Dr. Sutherland said.
That will leave Musso a separate defensive coordinator, six assistants and two volunteers, school officials said.
Musso will also choose the head football coach at the middle school, she noted.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.