He had an uncle named Tynie Coupland who was a left guard on the very first St. Clair County High School football team in 1964. Other family members played sports as well through the years.
Coupland also knew he would one day get into law enforcement, as his grandfather, dad and brother had.
Coupland was a member of the first state championship football team from St. Clair County when the Saints won the coveted title in 1993.
Today, Coupland has the chance to be a role model at the same school he graduated from. He is the school resource officer through the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
Coupland grew up in Odenville and went to the Odenville schools from kindergarten until he graduated from high school.
He started playing T-ball at the age of 4 and played baseball all the way up through high school.
Coupland started playing basketball with the RA’s in the church league, and he started playing football in the eighth grade.
Of the three sports he played, Coupland said his favorite would depend on when you asked him.
“Growing up and in school, it was basketball,” Coupland said. “Today, I’m more of a football fan, but basketball was always my favorite sport.”
Starting high school
Coupland started St. Clair County High School in the seventh grade, the same year Paul Kellogg became a coach there. Because he played sports, he was placed in athletics physical education.
“That’s when I got to know Coach Kellogg,” he said. “They installed a real weight program.”
As a seventh-grader, Coupland played junior high basketball and they won county that year.
When he went for tryouts the next year, he was promoted to the high school B-team.
“As an eighth-grader, I was already 6 foot 5 inches,” he said. “We were always very successful in basketball, and I played with a lot of talented people.”
People like Michael Cook, Adidas Byers, Tony Bedell, Ronnie Holston, John Chapman, J.J. Hardrick, Antonio Ragland, Patrick Williamson, and others.
By the time Coupland is in the 10th grade, he was a member of every varsity sport he played.
Alan Lee was named the new head football coach that year, and Kellogg was the defensive coordinator. Coach Carl Mims was the line coach.
Coupland played both ways as a tight end on offense and defensive end on defense. He was also the team punter.
The Saints were 4-6 his sophomore year (1992) but lost the first five games. They went 4-1 the second half of the season.
“When Coach Lee arrived, it was just different,” Coupland said. “He gave us goals to reach, and instantly you bought into his program. He led by example and really cared about us. He was involved in the community and allowed the community to be involved in the program. We wanted to do everything we could to make him proud of us.”
Coupland said Lee installed a wishbone offense, and they were still learning it during those first five games they lost.
“After that fifth game, things just started to click,” Coupland said.
In basketball, Coupland played for Kellogg, and they won the Springville Christmas Classic and the St. Clair County Tournament.
Coupland was named All-County, and the team finished runner-up in the area. He averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“Coach Kellogg had a large line-up and a small line-up,” Copland said. “We had so many guards, and everyone could handle the ball. We would be in, and when Coach Kellogg got ready to run the ball a little bit, he would pull us and put the small line-up in. They would get our opponent tired, and then he would bring us back in.”
Coupland also played baseball, as leftfielder. The team won the county championship his sophomore year. They also advanced to the third round of the state playoffs but lost to Thomasville two out of hree games. Thomasville went on to win the state title.
Leading up to that championship season, Coupland said the workouts in the summer were hard.
“However, everybody came to the workouts,” he said. “We were all there, and Coach Lee brought us together. We were one. We hung out together, and we took care of each other. We were a close-knit family. All of the coaches told us we were going to turn this football program around, and we did.”
All of the hard work paid off as the Saints went 15-0 and won the Class 2A state title, beating Hazelwood 18-13 in the championship game.
“As far as I know, we are the only football team in St. Clair County to win a state title,” Coupland said.
Coupland noted that every week of football season, they focused on one game and one game only.
“We never looked ahead, and (we) focused on the game at hand,” he said. “We went through the process every week, over and over.”
Coupland remembers the state title game. It was played Dec. 10, 1993, at Odenville.
“It had rained all day,” Coupland recalled. “The field was saturated, and on the sidelines there was an inch or two of water. It was a muddy mess.”
Coupland said the fans that season were the 12th man for them out on the field.
“No matter where we traveled, they were there,” he said. “No matter where we played, we were like the home team, because we always had more fans there. We traveled 250 miles to play McIntosh, and we had six charter buses of just the fans. We had twice as many fans as the home team did.”
Coupland said it was a surreal moment when the clock ticked down and they had defeated Hazelwood in the title game.
“Things kind of ran in slow motion for a little while,” he said. “I remember Adidas Byers knelt down with the ball on the final play. Patrick Williamson ran up to Adidas and pointed to his ring finger, letting him know we are getting state championship rings. I remember all our fans pouring onto the field. It’s really indescribable. There are no words to describe that feeling. We accomplished our goal and I do believe it has carried on, even through today. The Saints have been a playoff team just about every year since 1993.”
Junior year in other sports
The basketball team Coupland’s junior year was probably the best team he ever played on.
They went 20-3, won the Springville Christmas Classic and county tournament again.
“When we won the state football title that year, our first basketball game was in the Springville Christmas Classic,” Coupland said. “We went on to win the classic, and I had the chance to joke around with Springville coach Jeff Smith because at the time, he was also our driver’s ed teacher at SCCHS.”
Even with a 20-3 record, the Saints did not make the state playoffs because all three losses were to area teams Calera and Winterboro.
“Calera was ranked No. 1 in the state and Winterboro was ranked No. 3,” Coupland said. “We were ranked No. 6 in the state. We drew Calera in the first round of the area tournament and they defeated us. We were just in a tough area that year.
Coupland said his senior year was disappointing in a lot of ways. First, Lee left for Shelby County High School. SCCHS had the state’s longest winning streak going at 21 games until week three against West End of Walnut Grove.
“We lost that game and we all cried like babies,” Coupland said. “We finished 4-6 that year and didn’t lose but four starters off the state championship team. We did beat Moody that year, 6-2, and that was our best accomplishment of the year. We also beat Ashville.”
In basketball, the Saints did not win county and did not make the state playoffs. Coupland said it was a tough season in basketball.
Coupland graduated in 1995. He received a lot of letters from many different schools, and several small colleges were interested in him.
“When it come down to it, there were two or three smaller schools that offered me a football scholarship,” Coupland said. “Mainly for my punting ability.”
From the time he was a little boy, Coupland loved to punt.
“When I was a kid, there was a tree in my grandfather’s yard,” he said. “I got to where I could punt the football over the tree. I then would back up and see how far back I could get and still kick it over the tree. I had an uncle who showed me how to hold the ball and kick a spiral. I went to Mississippi State to Jackie Sherrill’s punt camp. It was just God-given ability.”
Coupland had the highest punting average in the state his junior and senior year at 48 yards per punt.
One punt he remembers was during his junior year in the fourth round of the state playoffs against Leroy.
“It was 0-0 headed into the fourth quarter and both teams were 13-0,” Coupland said. “They had us backed up, and I had to punt out of my own end zone. It turned out to be the longest punt of my career, a 75-yarder. It flipped the field position, as we held them, they punted and we got the ball around midfield. We scored, and the final score was 7-0.”
Walked on at JSU
Coupland decided to walk on at Jacksonville State University as a punter.
“I made the team but never played because I became interested in the police academy while I was there,” Coupland said. “I hated school, so I devoted my attention and time to the police academy. My grandfather was a deputy sheriff and a Leeds policeman, while my dad was an MP in the U.S. Army. And my brother was with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department. I guess it runs in the family.”
Coupland quit college and worked at various jobs until he could get into the academy.
He was hired by the Odenville Police Department, which sponsored him to go through the academy.
He was able to go full time to the academy and was able to graduate after 12 weeks in July 1997.
Coupland worked for the Odenville Police Department for five and a half years.
In 2002, Sheriff Terry Surles hired Coupland as a member of the sheriff’s department.
Today, he is a deputy sheriff and has been assigned to St. Clair County High School as a school resource officer.
“I love working in St. Clair County and Odenville,” Coupland said. “Not just Odenville, but all points in between. From Moody to Ragland and from Springville to Pell City. I love being in this county, and I never want to leave this county. I never want to leave the sheriff’s department. That’s where I’ll retire, God willing.”
Coming full circle
Coupland feels he has come full circle at SCCHS. His coaches back in the 1990s (Alan Lee and Carl Mims) are still at St. Clair County High, while Kellogg worked at the central office through this past school year.
“Some of the boys don’t even realize I played football here,” he said. “When they ask, I just laugh and say yeah, at one time I did. They can’t comprehend that state title run of 1993 because they were not even born yet.”
Coupland said he hopes he can pass on to the guys what he learned from mistakes he made while in high school and try to help them.
“I hope to lead and guide them a little bit,” he said. “I tell the guys today that they are only as good as their teammates. I was not the greatest athlete by any means, but as a team, we succeeded. It was all teamwork.”
Coupland and his wife, Angie, have been married 11 years. They have two children, Grayson, age 10, and Bailey, age 6.
They are members of Friendship Baptist Church.
Contact Gary Hanner at email@example.com.