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Jelani Fair named the new head football coach at Wilson High

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Virginian-Pilot
Virginian-Pilot
 2021-06-17

On July 1, Wilson High will become Manor High.

And with that will come many changes, including new uniforms and a new mascot.

The Manor Mustangs will also welcome a new football coach in Jelani Fair.

“It’s a new beginning for everybody,” Fair said. “For me, the kids. We get to start fresh. I’m up for the task.”

Fair will replace Anton Cannady, who stepped down in April. He was 1-12 in two seasons, including 0-3 this past spring.

Athletic director Ronald Cabbler thinks Fair will be great for the program.

“We’re extremely excited to get Jelani as our football coach,” he said. “His experience will be a tremendous asset leading our program.”

Wilson hasn’t had a winning record since 2004. The Presidents have won just 19 games since 2005, including six winless seasons.

Fair is used to turning programs around.

He took over a downtrodden program at Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach that had won just four games during the previous nine seasons. He guided Princess Anne in 2017 to a 5-6 record — the program’s most wins since 2003 — and to just its second playoff berth since 2000. Fair finished 13-36 with Princess Anne.

But Fair stepped down midway through the 2018 season . He originally said it was a “family reason,” but later said he was forced to resign because he violated a Virginia High School League rule by holding practices on Sunday — prohibited unless approved by the school superintendent. Fair said he held the sessions in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which jumbled games and practices for several weeks.

Fair admitted then that he made a mistake, but doesn’t think it should have cost him his job. He has served as an assistant coach at Churchland since then, including as defensive coordinator.

He’s thankful for another chance to be a head coach.

“I’m just grateful to have this opportunity,” said Fair, who played at Norfolk State and was an assistant coach at Bayside for eight seasons. “It’s an opportunity to coach the sport that I love. Coaching has so many great things about it that you can’t put a price tag on. I’m just excited to get another chance. It’s a blessing.”

Larry Rubama, 757-575-6449, larry.rubama@pilotonline.com

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