Leading the way in longevity and loyalty
By Steve Williams
High school football assistant coaches are rarely in the spotlight. But there are some that deserve to be for their longevity and loyalty.
With the 2023 season kicking off this week, local head coaches were asked to send in the names of assistant coaches who had been at their school for 10 or more years.
Needless to say, head coaches were pleased to get the opportunity to recognize the longtime assistants.
Gibbs High had four assistants who fit the description, while Webb School had two. Farragut, Hardin Valley Academy, Seymour and Austin-East had one each.
There are 20 schools in The Focus’ coverage area that were contacted.
Todd Atkins has been coaching running backs and safeties for 20 years.
“Coach Atkins and I graduated from Gibbs together in 1996,” said Gibbs Head Coach Brad Turner. “We played ball together growing up and all through high school.”
Tyler Kitts, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, has been coaching quarterbacks for 15 years.
“I coached Tyler my first year at Gibbs in 2004,” said Turner. “He does so much more than just coach. He is very much involved in everything we do from football, designs, apparel and community involvement.”
Gibbs’ new defensive coordinator, Austin Calfee, has coached the Eagles’ linebackers for 10 years.
“Austin played linebacker for me for four years when I was the defensive coordinator,” said Turner. “He was a coach on the field when he played and we made sure to offer him a job after graduating. He knows how I think and has a passion for tough guy football.”
Chris Jones has been at Gibbs for 16 years and coaches defensive ends and tight ends.
“Coach Jones was my mentor teacher when I first came to Gibbs,” recalled Turner. “We coached baseball together in 2005 and football 16 years. He has a great feel for how things are going and what needs to change.”
Atkins also is head track and field coach at Gibbs and Jones is assistant baseball coach, too.
For 23 years, Tom Doucette has been defensive line coach at Farragut. He also has been the strength training coach / discipline mentor for the program.
“Tom has loved on our players with a discipline, blue collar, committed and accountability approach,” said Farragut Head Coach Eddie Courtney. “He continues to be in their lives years after they graduate.”
Rudy Furman is an “original Hawk” and has been at Hardin Valley Academy since the school opened in 2008 – 16 years ago, said Head Coach Jeff Miner. “He coaches our outside linebackers and handles all things technology and hardware for us.”
Miner, who is beginning his second season at HVA, also pointed out that Rudy has been “super instrumental” in helping him get acquainted with the Hardin Valley community. “He has long standing relationships with youth and middle school coaches and has helped us bridge that gap.
“He also knows the history of all things and helps us understand how things work around here. His kids attend Hardin Valley schools, so he knows a lot of the other kids and parents in Hardin Valley.”
Head Coach Don Mahoney said Jay Moore is Webb’s defensive line and strength coach entering his 24th season, while Kevin Julian is the Spartans’ defensive coordinator entering his 12th season.
“They are tremendous teachers of fundamentals and technique,” said Mahoney. “Jay and Kevin communicate well with our athletes and love Webb. We are fortunate to have men who do a great job with our student-athletes.”
Darrel Lauderdale topped the list with 31 years as defensive line coach at Seymour High and has been a defensive coordinator. He is also the Seymour Junior High head coach.
“Darrel is Seymour through and through,” said Head Coach Terry Clark. “He loves the community, the school, and the students. He is embedded in this program and willing to go above and beyond to make it the best possible program we can have. He is the best D-line coach I have worked with and has a gift for getting the most out of his players.”
Darrel also has been a very successful wrestling coach at Seymour, Clark added.
David “Mo” Ligon is “Coaching in his 25th season now. Offensive quality control,” according to A-E Head Coach Antonio Mays.