Clifford Story set to break Lanett win record

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, August 13, 2022

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Lanett head coach Clifford Story Jr. is set to break Dan Washburn’s record as the winningest coach in Lanett football history.

Story took over Lanett’s program in 2009, and he’ll have a chance to break Washburn’s record that he held for 40 years.

Both Story and Washburn sit at 109 wins, and Story will have the chance to break that record next weekend at Morgan-Washburn Stadium.

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Washburn coached Lanett for 15 non-consecutive years, and Story will be entering his 14th year as head coach.

Washburn has left behind a legacy at Lanett that won’t be forgotten, even when Story breaks his record.

“When I took this job, records and things like that didn’t cross my mind,” Story said. “I just wanted to come to Lanett and do the best job I could possibly do. Anybody that has been an assistant coach, their dream is to become a head coach.”

Story just wanted to make an impact on the people of Lanett.

“I want to have an impact on kids’ lives,” Story said. “I wanted to build something special here. I had a vision and a plan. I’ve been really blessed with players, coaches, administration and everybody as a whole. To be able to break coach Washburn’s record who the stadium is named after, it’ll be something special. At the end of the day, that wasn’t my intention. I just happened to be here longer than a lot of other guys that have had some great teams.”

Story and Washburn haven’t talked much about it, but Washburn will be at the kickoff classic next weekend.

“He’ll be in attendance. He wants to be there when I do it,” Story said. “We have never really talked about it. I just have so much respect and admiration for him. He’s a great mentor. I’ve always been able to call him and ask questions. In my early years at Lanett, he evaluated me and told me things I needed to work on. He’s just one of a kind. You can’t find a better God-fearing man.”

Story met Washburn when Story became the head coach of Lanett.

“When I first got the job, he called me and welcomed me to Lanett,” Story said. “He’s always going to love Lanett, so he told me if I ever needed him to give him a call. We started going to lunch a few times, and it just built from there.”

One thing Story learned from Washburn is to have a good staff.

“I learned to make sure that I have a staff that loves the kids and learns the kids’ whole person,” Story said. “He also taught me to not build your team off of one or two guys. He told me to find about six guys, and the other five will follow. I always call it the great six. The great six will make the other five great.”

Story knows that even his record won’t last forever.

“Records are made to be broken,” Story said. “I’m pretty sure someone will come along after me and do the same thing. I’m hoping I’m fortunate enough to live to see it. I want to be there in some capacity. I’ll be overwhelmed and happy, but my career has been way more than I could’ve imagined. I’m at a loss for words that it happened so fast.”

Washburn was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and he’s ready for Story to break his record.

“Coach Story will break that record next weekend,” Washburn said. “It was an honor to coach at Lanett. More important than the record was the relationships built with teachers and administrators and players I came in contact with. That’s what is so important to me. The record represents those people. I had 15 teams, and I cherished each one of them.”

Washburn’s legacy has been vital to Lanett, especially since his name is on the stadium with former Lanett coach Mal Morgan.

“It means a great deal to have your name placed on the stadium along with coach Morgan,” Washburn said. “I really applaud coach Story and congratulate him. I wish him the very best, and I hope he goes 15-0 this year.”

Washburn mentioned what he talked about with Story throughout Story’s career.

“We talked about philosophies and how kids have changed from the day I coached until now,” Washburn said. “It’s the same in a lot of ways. The players look you in the eyes, and they believe what you say. Those are the things coach Story, and I talked about.”

Both coaches credited their success to the players they coached.

“If those kids give him the effort he requires, he’s going to put them in a position to win each game,” Washburn said. “He’s an excellent coach, and he fits the mold at Lanett High School.”

Washburn still talks to Story at least once a month. Story will look to break the record next weekend against Notasulga.