Pompey set to confront his past

Coach will lead Edmondson against his former school, Dunbar, in Class 2A playoff

High schools

November 11, 1999|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Pete Pompey may be "Coach" to the players on his fifth-ranked Edmondson football team. But to his grandsons, 4-year-old Jamal and 3-year-old Jordan Michael, he's known as "Peke."

"That's how they pronounce his name, and to them, he's the entire world," said the boys' mother, Rhonda Simms, Pompey's 31-year-old daughter who lives with him.

"When my father comes home, he's like, `Where are my boys?' And they just come running and he gets down on the floor with them," Simms said.

"He's a sucker for the boys. When I reprimand them, they go running to their `Grand-pop,' " she added. "And when he's around, they're like three little kids running around. My mother [Barbara] and I, we just don't exist."

Barbara Pompey said Jamal's December 1994 birth "breathed life back into" her husband after "a year of misery" prompted by his 1993 dismissal from Dunbar for an alleged misuse of the Poets' athletic funds and his subsequent transfer back to Edmondson.

Pompey, 59, will be confronted with his past Saturday, when he stands across from Dunbar coach Ben Eaton and the 14th-ranked Poets (8-2) at Poly in the Class 2A quarterfinal state playoffs. The 25th-year coach and his Redskins (10-0) are seeking their 17th straight victory.

Edmondson is the two-time City West Division champion, and Dunbar shared the city's East Division title with Patterson.

David Lewis, a former basketball and football player for Pompey, will be on the sidelines as a junior varsity football assistant at Dunbar.

"I have a good relationship with David, but it'll be strange. And I'm sure there'll be some fans there who will want to see us get a butt-whipping," said Pompey, who has a career record of 180-88. "But whatever happens, it's Dunbar-Edmondson, so you know it's going to be exciting and a whole lot of fun."

Pompey initially was placed on administrative leave from Dunbar pending the state's attorney's office's 14-month investigation, which uncovered "a pattern and practice of undocumented expenditures, poor management and an avoidance of accountability" regarding the deposit of $51,250 to a checking account he opened without the knowledge of school officials.

But city state's attorney Stuart O. Simms "could not conclude" that [Pompey'] actions could be "conclusively established as a crime."

Pompey was never charged, but he eventually lost his positions as Dunbar's athletic director, and its basketball and football coach.

The move came after having been named USA Today's national Coach of The Year after leading the 1991-92 Poets basketball team to a 29-0 record and a mythical national championship to go along with a No. 1 ranking.

Pompey's Dunbar football team had gone 10-1, and finished runner-up in the Maryland Scholastic Athletic Association B Conference.

Said Pompey: "All I'll say about what happened at Dunbar is that I did everything for the kids. Period."

But Barbara Pompey has plenty to say about it.

"It ruined his reputation. It tore him apart. And myself, my daughter, our entire family felt it," she said. "He was miserable for a number of years, and I don't know if he's over it right now, to tell you the truth."

Former University of Maryland basketball star Rodney Elliott, a recent signee with the Baltimore BayRunners, played basketball and football under Pompey.

"Coach Pompey cared about what you did in school, academically, at home and beyond athletics. He helped me make the right decisions," Elliott said. "Coach Pompey was instrumental in helping me to become a man, no doubt about it."

Pompey had coached for years at Edmondson, compiling a 100-40 record with four MSA B Conference titles, before replacing Bob Wade at Dunbar in 1986.

When he returned to Edmondson in '94, Pompey vowed to reverse the fortunes of a football team that had gone 0-10 the previous fall. His Redskins went 7-3 that first season only to suffer through three consecutive 3-7 ampaigns.

Dunbar, meanwhile, won two state titles in three championship game appearances and five berths in the state semifinals under Stanley Mitchell (now at Morgan State).

Pompey, finally, was able to bring to life last year's Redskins, who turned a 1-3 start into a 7-3 finish and the coach's first football championship in 13 years and his seventh overall.

This year's Redskins returns second-team All-Metros Raytron Leak, an H-back-type player, and 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker-defensive end Jason Murphy, who runs a 4.6 40-yard dash and has 14 sacks.

"We've asked a lot of these kids, some of whom really are sacrificing a lot to be out there. Some of them are working around jobs and other commitments," said Pompey.

"It's taken a lot of work, but thanks to my coaches and players, we've been successful," said Pompey.

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