Stringfellow eagerly embraces EPHS football opportunity

Former player, son of legendary figure takes over as head coach

By Mike Rego
Posted 3/30/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — There’s likely no better moment and certainly no better place for Jon Stringfellow to return to coaching than do so in 2020 and at East Providence High School. …

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Stringfellow eagerly embraces EPHS football opportunity

Former player, son of legendary figure takes over as head coach


EAST PROVIDENCE — There’s likely no better moment and certainly no better place for Jon Stringfellow to return to coaching than do so in 2020 and at East Providence High School. Stringfellow was formally appointed as the Townies’ new head football coach last week, taking over after another EPHS alum Jay Monteiro stepped away from the position following a six-year stint.

Stringfellow, of course, is a legacy hire. He is the son of city legend Bill “Beansy” Stringfellow, who led the Townie football program for two decades spanning the 1970s and 80s and who just passed away in February of this year. Sheila Stringfellow, the matriarch of the family of seven including Jon and just as much a part of the EPHS football legacy as her husband, passed away in August of 2019.

“Everything happened pretty fast from when Jay announced he was resigning,” the younger Stringfellow explained. “I sat down with (district athletic director) Gregg (Amore) and (EPHS principal) Shani (Wallace) to talk about the situation. I spoke with my wife and family about whether or not I should apply. We all agreed it seemed liked a good time to do it. So I put in for it, and things worked out.”

Stringfellow, a 1984 EPHS grad and former player, spent 27 years on the sidelines before taking last fall off. His coaching career began as a Townie assistant under former head coach Steve Silva Sr. in 1991 then continued under Sandy Gorham through 2002. From there, he headed to Bishop Hendricken where he spent five more years as a varsity aide prior to becoming the Hawks’ freshmen head coach. Stringfellow enjoyed tremendous success mentoring the first-year high schoolers, winning nine state titles between 2007 and 2018.

He takes over a much different EPHS program than when his father was the coach and he was an assistant. The days of huge rosters filled with ample size, skill and speed are a thing of the past. Still, the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of his father at Pierce Stadium and eventually at the athletic complex to be built at the new high school were too much for he and his clan to pass up.

“I’m excited to get started. It means everything to me to follow my dad,” Stringfellow explained. “I just want the kids to have a good experience, good memories of playing football at East Providence. I want them to feel that bond like what I had and those guys did who played for my dad.

“It’s a job I guess I’ve always dreamt about having since I started coaching. I kind of headed in a different direction by leaving. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have the chance to do it. I didn’t coach last year to spend time with my mom and dad, but I knew I would get back into it either as a volunteer or an assistant somewhere. I knew I wanted to coach again, and I guess I couldn’t have asked for a better time.

“My whole family is pretty excited. They’re pretty happy to open up Section 8 at Pierce Stadium (where his father sat for EPHS games in retirement) again. It’s going to be fun.”

Stringfellow is well aware of the current state of EPHS football. Graduation will thin out the Townies’ ranks this summer, meaning there are key positions, like quarterback, that must be filled come the fall. Add in the COVID-19 crisis with school out of in-person session for at least another month and the task gets that much more difficult.

“From my standpoint, I want to try to get the numbers up, find more kids who want to play football. We’re going to set standards, move forward and try to get better every day,” Stringfellow said. “With the new stadium at the new high school coming in the next year or so, hopefully more kids will want to stay in E.P. But it’s tough looking too far ahead, especially under these circumstances. I looked at the roster the other day, and there isn’t a quarterback. We’re also installing a new offense and a new defense. We have to get them to buy in to what the new staff is teaching them, but it’s going to be difficult.”

Three Monteiro assistants — Damian Ramos, Jon Flammond and DonTrae Odufunade — will remain on Stringfellow’s staff. The other three positions are being posted inside the system first then outside if needed. Stringfellow said he will work with Amore on how to go about the interview process during the coronavirus outbreak.

When the coaches and players do eventually get together Stringfellow said he plans on bringing back the “triple-option” offense used so successfully by the Gorham teams of the 1990s and 2000s because it “best utilizes the athletes in the school.” He said he’s still deciding what defense he will install, odd or even-man front, but the terminology is likely to change from previous years.

“I don’t know if or when we’ll get back to school, but I’m going to reach out to the kids, email the kids at both middle schools, get the word out,” Stringfellow said. “With how things are going right now, we’re operating day-to-day, week-to-week. It could be a tough summer, especially if I don’t get to see the kids before then. But we’ll figure it out and adjust as we go.”

The reality of the moment, though seemingly daunting at times, hasn’t diminished Stringfellow’s enthusiasm for what lay ahead or his appreciation for the chance to coach the Townies and the backing he’s received from the followers of EPHS football.

“It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be good for the family to get back out on the sidelines. Jay did a good job the last six years. I just want to continue that. I want to give the kids good memories, move along week-to-week and get better as we go,” Stringfellow added. “And I’m very thankful of the support I’ve received from the community. It’s been very overwhelming and I couldn’t be more appreciative. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it.”

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.