Jake Purnell and his family are anxious to make West Liberty their home. They love the people, school and the "small town" feel. But when you compare it to the place where Purnell grew up, West Liberty is actually quite large.
"This place is like a metropolis compared to Barnesville," said Purnell in reference to his hometown in northeast Pennsylvania. "There was a 4X4 sign that read "Welcome to Barnesville" on one side and "Thanks for Visiting Barnesville" on the other. It's that small."
Purnell may be a small town guy, but he has "big time" plans for Cougar football. He wants to win games now--with the hopes of making a solid post season run within the next three years.
"I do think we'll surprise a lot of people," Purnell said. "We will be competitive and play an exciting brand of football."
Purnell feels that he and his family will fit right in when they make the move to Morgan County. He says his wife, Lori Ann, "loves the people and the town". But the new coach says the person who's made them feel the most welcome is none other than MCHS athletic director Chris Trusty.
"The biggest selling point for us was the friendliness and hospitality we received from Chris," said Purnell. "He is the ultimate cheerleader for Morgan County sports. The man is always upbeat and positive about the potential of this program. There's no doubt that he bleeds blue and gold."
Purnell is indeed inheriting a program capable of winning. It was just three years ago that the Cougars notched back-to-back winning seasons, including a 21 - 14 win in the 2004 state playoffs against Mercer County. It's Purnell's hope that he will have the support of the community in the rebuilding process.