Several days after being removed as head football coach at Spingarn High School, Leonard (Moe) Warren sat disconsolately on the top row of the stadium watching the team practice under his successor, Kenny Howell.
No one had to ask Warren how he felt. After working with the team since Aug. 15 and coaching the Green Wave to an impressive 8-0 win over Interhigh League power Theodore Roosevelt in their season opener, suddenly he had been ousted because of a grievance filed by Howell. Warren's eyes told the story.
"I just think I got shafted. It doesn't seem fair," Warren said, "I felt since I was appointed to the job, I would have at least held it for a year. I thought the principal hired and fired coaches."
The strange circumstances surrounding the hiring and firing of Warren and the hiring of Howell began shortly after Athletic Director Frank Parks stepped down as football coach. Howell, a chemistry teacher at Spingarn the last 10 years and junior-varsity coach the past few years; Blair Jackson, another Parks assistant, and Warren applied for the job.
For the past two years Warren had worked as a physical education teacher at Hamilton and Kelly Miller junior highs but was football coach at Phelps. When Kelly Miller Principal Claude Moten became principal at Spingarn in April, Warren also was transferred, Despite Howell's claim he rightfully deserved the job because he was recommended by Parks and was a teacher at Spingarn long before Warren arrived, Moten gave the job to Warren.
Howell filed a grievance with the Washington Teachers Union. Region III Superintendent Andrew Jenkins ruled Howell should have been given the coaching position in the beginning and replaced Warren just three days, after the Spingarn victory over Roosevelt.
Moten said previously he selected varsity coaching experience.
"It just wasn't right, but I don't want to talk about the decision anymore," said Howell. "The war is over, and we have to play some football games."
Parks said he recommended Howell for the job because he had worked closely with him for several years and he was the only other teacher qualified for the position.
"Warren wasn't here then and our head coaches have always been in the building," Parks said.
Warren, a robust, well-respected District of Columbia native, isn't bitter or angry; just hurt. His assisant coaches, James West and Lawrence Moten, say Warren's problem is being too nice.
"He worked extra hard to turn Phelps' program around and coached both football and basketball. He didn't receive any pay for either year (Interhigh head coaches receive $1,000)," West said.
Warren affirmed, "I didn't get one dime. The principal (Perry Cook) assured me I would be paid. We had to forfeit a football victory over Eastern last year, and I was blamed for that by the principal. I wasn't there and I told him they would have to check the eligibility list. I knew I wasn't going back there again."
When Warren told the Spingarn team he would be replaced as head coach, he assured them he would be back that following Monday.
"I went to Kenny and offered the services of me and my assistants but he turned us down (except for Jackson)," Warren related. "I didn't care anymore about being head coach. I just wanted to stay out there with the kids. I wanted to help."
Howell said he felt he had enough help and didn't need Warren's assistance.
Several of the players threatened to quit or boycott the next game (Coolidge). But Warren talked them into playing.
"We were a veteran team, anyway, and we just had to adjust again. There weren't any major problems," said Spingarn split end Liston Taylor.
"We had to adjust to Coach Warren during the summer. Now we'll have to adjust to Coach Howell. I was a captain under Mr. Warren. I don't know who Coach Howell will pick. But it doesn't matter that much."
Spingarn rewarded Howell by defeating Coolidge Friday night, 3-0. Warren sat unnoticed far back in the stands and left immediately.
"They did a good job. Nothing has changed much and the kids knew what to do," said Warren.
If Howell asked Warren to help today, would the amiable former tackle at Phelps and Federal City College (now the University of District of Columbia) do so?
"I sure would. I miss being out there," said Warren.
Coolidge is seeking a basketball opponent for either Dec. 19 or 22. If interewst, contact Coach Frank Williams.
The 13th annual Spalding basketball clinic will be held Oct. 6-7 at the Sheraton Lanham in New Carrollton. Speakers include Coaches Hubie Brown of the Atlanta Hawks, Marv Kessler of Hofstra, Johnny Orr of Michigan and Hank Raymonds of Marquette. High school coaches who will participate are john Wood (Spingarn), Gene Doane (Seneca Valley), Ray Mullis (Cardinal Gibbons) and Roscoe Dean (Robinson).
For information contact either Joe Gallagher of St. John's or Morgan Wootten of De Matha.