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Seeking "new ideas,' Rams fire coach

Ridgewood fired coach Troy Cornwell two months after its second straight losing season.

Cornwell, who was unavailable for comment, departs after three years and a 7-23 record. He is the second county coach to be dismissed within the past two months. Nov. 30, Gulf fired Keith Newton.

"Sometimes, you just know you need to make a change," Ridgewood principal Randy Koenigsfeld said.

Koenigsfeld informed Cornwell of his decision Friday and spoke to the team Tuesday. Cornwell will remain a physical education teacher at the school and coach boys weightlifting .

"(Cornwell) has done an excellent job as a teacher, and he did a great job in getting players to come out for football," Koenigsfeld said. "But I felt it was time to go in a different direction with the football program. This was not a win-loss thing. Everyone likes to win, but there's more to it than that. I think having some new ideas can make a difference."

Ridgewood has begun a search for a coach, which will be the sixth in its 21-year history. Koenigsfeld said the school is accepting applications then a search committee will invite candidates for interviews. Koenigsfeld said he hopes to hire someone by next month.

"We want to have someone here in time to get situated before spring practice," he said.

Cornwell, 33, became the county's youngest coach when he was hired in April 2002. A former offensive coordinator at the school, Cornwell had the challenge of reshaping one of the county's most downtrodden programs.

Ridgewood had just one winning season and was 7-53 since 1996, including a 35-game losing streak. But Cornwell engineered a turnaround, going 6-5 in his first season and helping the program make the playoffs for the first time.

That success was never sustained. Ridgewood went 0-10 in 2003 and finished 1-8 this past season.

The program also went through troubled times off the field. In September, Mike Galizia, the county's leading rusher in 2003, and quarterback Justin Pena were suspended from school for a week and from football for four games after being pulled out of the Homecoming dance for violating school rules.

Despite missing two of its top offensive players, Ridgewood beat Gulf 24-16 the next week to snap the county's longest losing streak at 13.

Ridgewood played most of the season with freshmen at quarterback (Charley Minichino), tailback (David Williams) and linebacker (Ben Perry).

"I'm excited about the football team's potential," Koenigsfeld said.

SAME SUCCESS

Ridgewood had the same record, 7-23, in the three seasons's before Troy Cornwell and his three seasons:

1999: 2-8 2002: 6-5 +

2000: 4-6 2003: 0-10

2001: 1-9 2004: 1-8

+ Lost to Belleview 48-6 in the first round of the playoffs

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