The football coach helped save the Houston Academy program and turned Tallassee into a force in Class 4A.
Is Carbon Hill the next program to join that list?
Dollar thinks so.
Dollar, 52, is the new head football coach of the Bulldogs. He takes over for former coach Royce Young, who led the Carbon Hill program for three years and is now on the staff at Cordova High School.
While Carbon Hill has a history of winning football, it’s just that — history.
The Bulldogs have won a grand total of seven games over the last six years with four of those wins coming against Cold Springs, which snapped a 35-game losing streak in last season’s opener.
Undaunted, Dollar sees the upside at Carbon Hill, a program that hasn’t advanced to the playoffs since 1999 and hasn’t put together a winning season in 11 years.
“I love to build programs. That’s been my specialty,” Dollar said. “Every program I’ve taken over has come from nothing. “I see building a program as a challenge. There are no jobs open at schools that went 10-0 because those coaches tend to keep them. When you go into to a program that you have to build, the expectations aren’t high and when you do something, you kind of put your trademark on it. I enjoy doing that.”
Dollar, who played baseball in the Houston Astros organization, has been coaching for 27 years, including 24 as a head coach. His head coaching stops have all been in south Alabama (Headland, Samson, Frisco City, Houston Academy, Tallassee and Pike County).
“I had cancer two years ago so I basically got out of coaching,” he said.
Dollar returned last year as an assistant at Bullock County High School.
“I taught elementary P.E. and chilled for a year,” Dollar said.
How did he like his year off from being a head coach?
“I didn’t like it. That’s why I’m here now,” he added.
The long road to making football respectable at Carbon Hill starts in the weight room according to Dollar.
“I enjoy building weight programs more than anything. It’s the foundation for any sport you play,” he said. “I’m old school. We are going to practice hard. We are going to hit and we are going to lift weights. Last year these kids were not strong. We’ve got to get them to where when they hit somebody, they don’t go backwards. We’ve got to build confidence in the weight room. These guys have been beaten down so much that they don’t have any confidence in themselves.”
Carbon Hill had a record-setting season in 2012 — not in a good way.
The Bulldogs allowed a school-record 518 points on the season, an average of 51.8 per game. Three opponents scored more than 60 points and Jemison put up 69 on the Bulldogs in a 61-point Carbon Hill loss.
By the end of the season, the banged up Bulldogs had less 20 players dressing out in Class 4A football.
Dollar has encountered his share of losing programs in the past.
At Houston Academy, located in Dothan, Dollar inherited a 1-8 team in 1999. The Raiders won four games over Dollar’s first two years before winning 59 games and four region titles over the next six years.
“They gave me two years to redo the program or they were completely going to cut it out. We were a state powerhouse for six solid years. I’d have four state championships if it wasn’t for Southern Choctaw and Leroy,” Dollar said.
Houston Academy was put out of the playoffs by the eventual state champion or state runner up five times. During Dollar’s run with the Raiders, the team reached the third round of the state playoffs three times and the state quarterfinals once.
From there, Dollar spent four years (2007-10) at Tallassee, putting together a 29-14 record and guiding the Tigers to the playoffs each of his last three seasons.
Dollar served four games as the Pike County head coach in 2011 before stepping down due to medical issues.
Now he’s hitting the ground running at Carbon Hill with the start of practice less than two months away.
“The kids are ready to work. They seem hungry for something to happen. That’s nothing against anybody that’s been here. Sometimes places just need change. Coaches need a change. Kids need a change,” he said. Dollar, who will also be Carbon Hill’s baseball coach, intends to start a wrestling program at the school.
“Wrestling goes hand-in-hand with football. When I was at Tallassee, I had All-State wrestlers on the team. You couldn’t get at their feet. They would put you down in a minute,” Dollar said. “I’m looking forward to getting that started and getting some kids involved.”
As for the gridiron, Dollar said he will handle the defense and special teams duties with the football team. He added that Ray Sherer and new assistant coach John Gilmore will be co-offensive coordinators.
Dollar is counting down the days to the 2013 season opener at county rival Curry set for Aug. 30.
“I’ve played all three sports, but there’s nothing like Friday night football. High School Friday nights are awesome. You work so hard for that one moment. When it’s playoff time and you are preparing that Sunday for a game on Friday night, there’s nothing like it. I’m excited already.