The search for a successor to retiring Tupelo High School football coach and athletic director James "Booty" Sloan is narrowing.

Tupelo superintendent of schools Mike Vinson said Wednesday he and incoming THS Principal John "Mac" Curlee hope to have a selection ready to present to the school board by Friday.

Vinson remained close-mouthed about possible candidates, saying the administration had looked at about a dozen candidates and had narrowed the list to about five or six names, all in-state.

Two of the candidates on the list were assistants on Sloan's staff, but the other possible candidates include some top names in Mississippi coaching. Directing the Tupelo program, which has won 11 consecutive all-sports trophies, is considered one of the top jobs in the state.

"Once we make a move like this, it could create ripples all over the state," Vinson said, adding that all of the candidates being considered are high school coaches.

Vinson is leaving most of the interviewing to Curlee. "They will have to work together so it is important for him to have a say," Vinson said.

Vinson refused to confirm or deny the identities of potential candidates. Several names have surfaced, however, as possibilities to replace Sloan, who had a 51-14 record at Tupelo and 179-78-1 overall.

Among the names most often mentioned are:

Amory coach Bobby Hall, whose Panthers have a 30-game winning streak and back-to-back Class 3A championships;

Oxford coach Johnny Hill, one of the top offensive coaches in the state who has taken the Chargers to four consecutive Class 4A playoffs. He was the offensive coordinator for the 1988 Warren Central Class 5A state championship team;

Jack French of Forest (126-46-1 career record), who has Class 3A championships in 1992 and 1993, and coached at Itawamba AHS 10 years ago;

Pontotoc coach Jimmy Mitchell, who was an assistant for a decade at Tupelo under former head coach Ricky Black. Mitchell has had four Pontotoc teams in the playoffs;

Clinton coach David Bradbury (77-34), a finalist for the Tupelo job six years ago. He replaced Sloan at Clinton when Sloan took the Tupelo job.

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