Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Blackwell resigns from Freedom coaching job

While the Patriots were showing improvement under Marquel Blackwell, other troubles piled up.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2008)

While the Patriots were showing improvement under Marquel Blackwell, other troubles piled up.

TAMPA — On the football field, second-year Freedom coach Marquel Blackwell seemed to have turned a corner with his young program.

The Patriots won three of their last four games in 2008, a nice end to a season that also began on a positive note with a victory over neighborhood rival Wharton.

But off the field, the 29-year-old Blackwell, the former fleet-footed Dixie Hollins and USF quarterback, couldn't stay as steady. And an early-morning DUI arrest Jan. 5 appeared to be the final straw for Freedom administration.

Principal Chris Farkas announced Monday that Blackwell had resigned at Farkas' request.

"We felt like he had lost his effectiveness as a role model," Farkas said.

When reached on his cell phone Monday evening, Blackwell declined comment.

Farkas stressed that the decision wasn't based solely on the latest incident, but a number of events in Blackwell's two years as coach.

Blackwell, 29, was arrested by Tampa Police at 3:29 a.m. at the corner of Columbus Drive and Himes Avenue on Jan. 5. According to the arrest report, after a traffic stop was conducted, Blackwell was asked to produce a driver's license. At that time, "he held out a blue Visa card."

Blackwell consented to a field sobriety test, but "exhibited clues of impairment," the police report said. He refused a blood alcohol test and was booked into Orient Road Jail. He was released 12 hours later on $500 bail.

In 2007, Freedom was involved in an ugly brawl with Tampa Bay Tech, an incident that was not blamed on Blackwell but resulted in a $1,500 fine and seven player suspensions. A few weeks later, the district's Office of Professional Standards launched an investigation into a verbal confrontation Blackwell had with another teacher.

Freedom went 4-6 last season after going 1-9 in 2007.

"He is a good guy," said former Middleton coach Harry Hubbard, who remembers first watching Blackwell play at Dixie Hollins when he was an assistant at Jefferson. "He was one of the first guys who called me when he heard I got released from Middleton."

Players were told of Blackwell's departure during fifth period Monday.

"Everything was going really positive with the team," senior wide receiver and co-captain Mark Cionci said. "We all liked him. It seemed like we had turned the corner and then this happens. We were all shocked. The football players really didn't have a say in it. It was the decision Mr. Farkas thought was best."

Freedom athletic director Elijah Thomas said he hopes to hire Blackwell's replacement by early February. It will be the Patriots' third coach in four years.

"We're looking for someone with head coaching experience," Thomas said. "Someone who can lead our students in the right direction."

Times staff writer John C. Cotey contributed to this report.

Blackwell resigns from Freedom coaching job 01/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 12, 2009 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  3. Signs point to Jameis Winston dressing vs. Bills


    TAMPA — The Bucs didn't sign another quarterback Wednesday, which would suggest they are confident that Jameis Winston can be active as a backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday at Buffalo if he doesn't start.

  4. FSU doesn't feel need for ongoing reminder of last year's beatdown at Louisville


    Of course Florida State remembers what happened against Louisville last year. The 63-20 loss was one of the worst defeats in Seminoles history.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson looks back at the action from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Murray State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  5. Goodell: NFL not changing its national anthem policy


    NEW YORK — In the face of fan unrest and accusations from the president about the league being unpatriotic, the NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand.

    NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a news conference, Wednesday in New York. [AP Photo/Julie Jacobson]