Head coach Darran Powell address the Dunbar High School football team at practice last season. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Photo: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Photo: MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Powell looking to “move forward” as Dunbar coach

Darran Powell has been renewed as the Dunbar High School football coach. His status as coach had been under scrutiny since a series of events last season ultimately led to one of the harshest penalties in Ohio High School Athletic Association history.

Powell, a Dunbar graduate, told his returning players on Thursday he would be back as coach. As of Monday, Powell’s coaching contract for the fall had not been approved by the Dayton school board. His return is not official until that happens.

“It was tears,” said Powell during Friday night’s Dayton Edwin C. Moses Relays at Welcome Stadium. “Everybody was happy. We always stuck together and we stood up to everything. Now, we’re just moving forward.”

5 THINGS TO KNOW: About OHSAA’s decision

Powell and the Wolverines football coaching staff and boys basketball coach Pete Pullen, formerly the school’s athletic director, were central figures in a standoff with Dayton Public Schools director of athletics Mark Baker. The coaching staff accused Baker of suggesting Dunbar should lose to Belmont in a Week 10 game last fall at Welcome Stadium.

Had that happened, it was presumed both City League teams would have qualified for the playoffs, which would have been a first for DPS football. Baker denied the allegation.

Two bizarre offensive plays by Dunbar early in the third quarter appeared to confirm the Wolverines had been instructed to “throw the game,” according to an OHSAA finding. A shortened video of the DPS-produced game tape of those two plays was an instant Internet hit last week.

The OHSAA punished Dayton Public Schools’ athletic department with fines and three years of probation this month. The issues stem from Dunbar’s Oct. 28, 2016 football game against Belmont. The plays are even odder than previously described.

Ultimately, an academically ineligible player resulted in Dunbar having to forfeit Week 9-10 games, missing the playoffs, bumping other teams out of the playoffs and readjusting several first-round playoff matchups in multiple divisions.

ANNOUNCER: “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Just two weeks ago the OHSAA announced its ruling, citing a “serious lack of administrative responsibility and institutional control.” All DPS boys and girls athletic teams were immediately placed on a three-year probation and the district was fined $10,000. It was believed to be the first time an entire school district was penalized by the OHSAA.

TIMELINE: From football Week 10 to OHSAA’s ruling to suspend, fine DPS

A separate investigation by DPS concluded that Baker did not instruct Dunbar to lose to Belmont, according to a statement by superintendent Rhonda Corr. Powell’s status as returning coach was in doubt because, according to multiple coaches, a new question had been added to the interview process, inquiring about any DPS reprimand. Both Powell and Pullen were reprimanded for allowing the academically ineligible player to play against Belmont. DPS would not confirm that was a new interview question.

Pullen resigned as the Dunbar AD in mid-November.

“This is what I wanted,” said Powell. “I’m glad to be back and I’m glad everything is over with so we can move forward. We’ve got a lot to prove next season.”

Dunbar will have two new opponents. Cincinnati Mount Healthy replaced Princeton in Week 2 and Dunbar will be at Detroit Central Catholic in Week 6. Dunbar and Taft also will switch divisions in the Southwest Ohio Public League with Belmont and Ponitz.

Powell also said Dunbar was not hit with an exodus of football players who might have transferred had the OHSAA also ruled the Wolverines were not allowed to participate in the postseason. Dunbar was 9-1 on the field last season and 7-3 after the forfeits. Junior running back Tavion Thomas (offers from Ohio State University and Alabama), junior receiver Joseph Scates (Alabama, Michigan State) and junior linebacker Antwuan Johnson (Michigan) all are highly sought-after recruits.

“Naw, they’re my guys,” Powell said when asked if anyone had transferred. “They love me and they stuck by me. I’m pretty sure other schools are upset but we’re here to stay and we’re going to be Dunbar.”

FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

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