Gardendale head coach Matt Plunkett has been named the new head football coach at Cullman High School. Plunkett replaces longtime Cullman coach Mark Britton who resigned this fall due to health concerns.
Plunkett had just completed his fifth season at Gardendale. He compiled a 37-22 record there from 2013 to 2017, and led the Rockets to four straight playoff appearances following his opening season. “It’s been fun. We worked really hard here and these kids did a fantastic job, but I’ve got some deep, deep roots in Cullman County,” Plunkett told the North Jefferson News. “That’s where I was raised. I have always viewed myself being in Cullman one day later in my career. I honestly didn’t know it would be this early.”
Britton collected a 134-63 record, three region crowns and zero losing campaigns in 17 seasons with Cullman. He also became the school’s all-time winningest coach in 2013, surpassing Oliver Woodard.
“First off, it’s an honor,” Plunkett said when the school board approved him. “Growing up in south Joppa and the New Harmony community and east Cullman County … as a young boy, coming to Cullman was a big deal for our family. And today’s a big deal. It’s an honor to follow a legendary football coach like Mark Britton. I’ve known coach Britton for a long time, and I really respect the job he’s done. There will be no one that has to explain to me how important this job is at Cullman High School. I understand that, and I embrace that, and I look forward to it, and I’ll lead the charge in that direction. We’ll represent this thing from Day 1 the right way.”
A 1998 Arab graduate, Plunkett attended the University of North Alabama and the University of Alabama, where he served as a student assistant coach for both football programs.
Plunkett went on to garner valuable experience as an assistant with Pittsburg State University (Kan.), Carson-Newman College (Tenn.) and Missouri Southern State University, serving a multitude of roles such as offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator, wide receivers coach and tight ends coach.
“We’ll move forward, but we’ll remember Coach Britton in everything we do,” he said. “It’s a new day. Our program is going to be about toughness, discipline and detail. We’re going to be a classy program and represent the city of Cullman with pride. There’s a fantastic coaching staff in place. I’m excited about implementing a plan to build up a Cullman football program into something even bigger than where it’s at now. Nothing will happen overnight, but I’ll want to create that fear and respect when the Bearcats get off the bus. My goal is that people don’t like playing us, and they walk away with hurt feelings.”
“I don’t know if there’s a better city in America to raise a family,” Plunkett said. “That was the deciding factor. Getting my family in the best city in America. High academics, great leaders. This country needs great leaders, and I certainly feel like that’s my mission … creating great leaders.”