E.A. Sports Today

Coming aboard

Cleburne County introduces Fuller (baseball), Boyd (softball) as the newest head coaches in its athletics program

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HEFLIN – The Cleburne County Tigers had one last piece of business to complete before sending the students home for the summer.

On Thursday afternoon, just before the last bus pulled out of the parking lot for the school year, Cleburne County football coach and athletics director Michael Shortt introduced the school’s two newest head coaches who’ll be on board when school reopens again in August.

Shortt introduced Jordan Fuller as the Tigers’ new head baseball coach and C.J. Boyd as the new head softball coach and football offensive coordinator.

Both succeed head coaches who have won more than 300 games in their respective sports during their tenures at the school.

Fuller, 28, replaces Vaughn Lee, who announced his retirement after 20 seasons with the Tigers and 28 years in the state education system Monday; it will be his first head coaching assignment. Boyd, 37, succeeds Ron Ervin, who stepped away from the Tigers’ softball program, but will remain the Tigers’ boys basketball coach and a football assistant coach.

“I believe I calculated (Lee) won 319 games here; being the guy who gets to follow that, that’s awesome,” Fuller said. “It’s no small feat to have to follow those guys, but I’m honored to be able to do it.”

Fuller played at Cleburne County and was part of the team that started the Tigers’ current run of 14 consecutive playoff appearances. He coached for a year at White Plains, then returned to his alma mater in 2013, where he has been the junior high head coach, moving up to the varsity when those seasons ended.

“I’m just absolutely honored and thankful for the opportunity,” Fuller said. “This really is a dream job for me. I would never have looked for another head baseball coaching job anywhere else. Something inside of me really wants to work with the kids at Cleburne County, being a Cleburne County guy myself.”

He already has his first schedule locked up. His first game as a head coach? Opening Day 2019 at home against White Plains.

Boyd was the head softball coach at Jacksonville for five years before coming over to Cleburne County two years ago. He was an assistant this year on a team that won an area championship and won its opening-round game in the 5A North Central Regional.

They have graduated five dynamic seniors from the team, but Boyd is confident the players coming behind them can develop into a group that can be successful in the near future.

“I love coaching girls softball,” Boyd said. “I have two daughters and this kind of keeps me plugged into my daughters’ life. Coaching girls is so much different than coaching boys. I have learned throughout the years you can not coach them the same; coaching girls is so unique.

“We have wonderful group of girls here at Cleburne County. They like to work; they like to win. I’m just excited about having a group of girls who are willing and able to do that.”

Experience had a lot to do with Boyd’s elevation to offensive coordinator. He had been the Tigers’ tight ends and outside linebackers coach, but was handed the reins of the offense because the Tigers are about to embark on a new, quarterback-running-oriented offense with new quarterback Reese Morrison, an offense Boyd has experience with at Saks and Jacksonville.

“That’s an offense we’ve had trouble and he had a knowledge of it, being around it almost eight years, so I thought it would be good for us to get him to be the offensive coordinator,” Shortt said. “It takes more than one guy and he understands all these guys working together will make our offense better.”

Because of the Tigers’ success in softball and baseball, Boyd only had six days to put in the offense before the spring game. It’ll make for a busy summer.

“We really just had to narrow down what we wanted to accomplish in the spring and I really felt like we did,” Boyd said. “In the spring game (against Good Hope) on the scoreboard it didn’t look like it, but when you go back and watch film, our kids really started learning the concepts, learning what we were trying to accomplish and trying to do.

“In my opinion we were successful this spring being able to accomplish that. To get them establishing that type of offense, learning the terminology. Probably the biggest task I had was trying to teach terminology to the kids, and not only them, but to the coaches. They really bought in and been supportive and willing to work and learn and grow and develop as coaches and players.”

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