By Brad Locke
For Corinth Today
Jimmy Mitchell, who spent most of his 40-year football coaching career in Northeast Mississippi, died Wednesday. He was 68.
Mitchell spent the final 14 years of his career as head coach at Corinth. There, he compiled a record of 118-54 with 12 consecutive playoff appearances. He led the Warriors to the Class 3A championship game in 2001, losing to Collins 28-14.
He retired following the 2011-12 school year.
Mitchell also was head coach at Pontotoc for four years and at Itawamba AHS for two years. His career record was 164-77.
Saltillo head coach Ryan Summers was with Mitchell during his entire Corinth tenure, the last two as defensive coordinator. He also played under Mitchell at Tupelo.
“I’m 45 years old and he is like my second daddy,” Summers said. “He was that way for a lot of us that played for him and worked with him. He was loyal, and it’s just hard to explain what positive impact he had on so many people.”
Mitchell started his career as a junior high coach in his hometown of Winona, before moving to Okeechobee, Florida, for three seasons. Mitchell returned to Mississippi to join Ricky Black’s staff at Kosciusko for three years. He then coached 11 seasons on Black’s Tupelo staff before getting his first head coaching job at Pontotoc.
“I never really wanted to be a head coach,” Mitchell said in 2012 after announcing his retirement. “I was mad when Ricky left (Tupelo). But it’s worked out.”
Current Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton was coached and taught by Mitchell at Tupelo High School.
“I was fortunate to be able to learn from him both in the classroom and on the football field,” Shelton said. “Coach Mitchell had a larger-than-life personality and will be missed by all.”
Black said Mitchell not only had a great defensive mind, he was able to develop players’ skills and character.
“He is a tremendous friend and it’s a devastating loss of him as a friend,” Black said. “The biggest thing about him is you can just talk to his previous players from everywhere he coached in Mississippi, (and they) understood his intensity and his fun with coaching. Everyone who has been around with him understands he lived a joyous life.
“There were a lot of laughs around him. The people around him enjoyed being with him.”
Contributing: Gene Phelps
Former Corinth Coach Mitchell Dies at 68
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