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West Ashley coach Bobby Marion on the sidelines as host Fort Dorchester won 45-13 on Friday, September 28, 2018. Wade Spees/Staff

In a surprise decision, West Ashley High’s incoming principal Ryan Cumback relieved head football coach Bobby Marion of his duties on Thursday, ending Marion’s tenure as head coach that began in 2007.

Marion says he was on the way back from a passing league game at Cane Bay on Thursday afternoon when he received a text message from Cumback asking to meet. During the meeting later in the afternoon, Cumback informed Marion he would be reassigned to Garrett Academy and would no longer be the head football coach at West Ashley.

“Totally blind-sided, never saw a hint of anything coming like this,” said Marion, who guided West Ashley to a 6-6 record and the school’s first-ever playoff win in 2018. “The timing is very odd. I mean we are right in the middle of our summer stuff and we start practice in just over a month.

"These things happen when new leadership comes in but I had no idea, none, that this was a possibility. It’s very upsetting right now. I really feel for the kids at West Ashley, my players.”

West Ashley defensive coordinator William Winberg has been named the interim head coach for the 2019 season.

"We look forward to positive growth in our football team under Winberg's leadership," Cumback said in a statement released by Charleston County Schools. "We have a dynamic football team that will thrive under his leadership."

Marion says there is no appeal process for situations like his but he is hopeful of gaining employment as an assistant coach, likely offensive coordinator, at a local school. At least one Class AAAAA school in the area has had initial conversations with Marion as of late Thursday.

Marion’s brother, former Stratford head coach Joe Marion, was set to begin his first season on the West Ashley staff this fall. His status is unknown.

Marion says he tried to make a pitch to remain as head coach at least for the 2019 season but that possibility was not entertained.

“I asked about remaining on for this season because I am totally invested in this team and these kids, but that wasn’t an option,” said Marion, who is a member of the 2019 SC Shrine Bowl coaching staff. “This whole thing is just upsetting. I mean we tried to do things the right way. We were never an embarrassment, on or off the field. We were competitive almost every year. It’s a lot to process right now.”

As is the case often with new administrations, there could be more changes forthcoming within the athletic department over the next few weeks.

Cumback is a former assistant principal at West Ashley and was the principal at Moultrie Middle School since 2016, according to a release by the Charleston County School District announcing his hire as principal in late May.

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