URBANA — A tumultuous time for Urbana High School football now includes a coaching change shortly before the Tigers’ 2022 opener.
Edmund Jones exited as coach of Urbana after one season, which was largely spent in the junior college ranks.
Curtis Blanden Sr., Danville’s 1995 News-Gazette All-Area Football Player of the Year, takes over on an interim basis.
Katherine Tellez, director of marketing and communications for the Urbana School District, confirmed the change Friday.
“Urban football coach Edmund Jones has tendered his resignation, and it has been accepted by the school district,” Tellez said in a statement. “Effective August 4, 2022, Curtis Blanden will take over as interim head football coach.
“Urbana begins training Monday, August 8 at 5 p.m. Midweek next week, the current roster will be evaluated to determine if there are enough eligible athletes to compete in a varsity program.”
The Tigers are scheduled to begin their next college season on August 26 by hosting Centennial. They are also slated to face Central in Week 5 — a game that could move to the Maroons’ McKinley Field, if approved by the Champaign City Council — as well as Danville in Week 9.
Jones was hired as Urbana’s coach in July 2021, with school board approval in August. The East St. Louis native replaced Ordell Walker, who accepted an assistant coaching position from Champaign Central.
The Tigers played one varsity game the following season, a 65-0 loss to Centennial in Week 1. Days later, Urbana officials announced the program would opt for a junior-only varsity schedule to close out 2021. , citing low athlete participation. as the main reason.
The Tigers also haven’t played in any of their six available games during the condensed 2021 spring season.
“The numbers weren’t where we hoped they would be,” Jones told The News-Gazette this week.
In an interview last month, Jones said he expects “between 50 and 55” athletes on Urbana’s roster in 2022, adding that “half of them will be freshmen.”
Jones described the situation as a mutual decision when contacted by The News-Gazette.
“They wanted to go in another direction. I fully understand their rationale and understand why they would,” Jones said. “It’s not like I set the world on fire here.”
“I also think I was expressing demands to a lot of people (whom) I don’t think they were necessarily comfortable with,” Jones added, saying that applied to both athletes and parents. “I think they just said, ‘We’re going to cut our losses here.
“I felt like they had a lot of respect for me. It just didn’t work out in the way and in the time frame that we all hoped for. It wasn’t any hard feelings or disrespect on either side. else.”
Blanden is a board member of the Central Illinois Youth Football League and served as a volunteer coach for the association. He also worked as an assistant coach in Urbana football for the previous decade.
Blanden’s son, CJ, is a freshman with the Tigers. Jones, in an interview with The News-Gazette last month, listed young Blanden as a newcomer who impressed him during off-season training.
Colin Likas is the preparation coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter at @clikasNG.