Crittenden County football coach Al Starnes told his players following Monday's practice that he has been diagnosed with early stage colon cancer.
The 52-year-old Starnes has been coaching in Crittenden County for 22 seasons. He is the winningest football coach in school history. His Rockets open their season Friday night at Fulton.
Starnes underwent surgery Wednesday at a Paducah hospital and is recovering well. He will miss at least two games during recovery.
"There are challenges in life and this one of them," Starnes said. "In life we never know what we're going to have to deal with. We have to deal with things that outside of our control and this is just one of those things. I appreciate everyone's prayers and concern."
The tumor was discovered during a routine colonoscopy about three weeks ago. Starnes met with his surgeon on Monday and on the doctor's advice, surgery was scheduled for this week.
The coach will be in the hospital for a few days following the procedure, but expects to be back to some type of limited, normal routine within a two or three weeks. The surgery will be done laparoscopically.
Jeremy Wheeler has been named acting head coach during Starnes' absence. Wheeler is the defensive coordinator. Starnes said assistant coach Jared Brown will call the offense when the team opens this week and Denis Hodge, a middle school football coach, will be in charge of the team's administrative duties.