Three of the state’s assistant best coaches have taken head coaching positions in North Alabama as schools make their hires for the 2018 season.
P.J. Wright has been a long time assistant at Davidson, working many years with head coach Fred Riley to give the Warriors consistently good teams year after year. Last season he worked at Spanish Fort with Ben Blackmon and the Toros had another outstanding season. He also spent his first four years in coaching at Baker. One of the most respected assistants in the Mobile area, he now travels to the far other end of the state as he becomes the head football coach at Ardmore High School. The town is so far north that it sits on the Tennessee line, right across from its sister city, Ardmore, Tennessee.
“Becoming the head coach at Ardmore High School was unexpected, but exactly what I was looking for,” Wright said on Al.com. “It is a small school in a close-knit community that loves their kids and loves their football. It is a supportive community. They are proud of where they live, and I am proud to call it home now, too.”
“I have been a part of several successful programs and have learned a lot from (Davidson) coach (Fred) Riley and (Spanish Fort) coach (Ben) Blackmon,” Wright said. “They are two extremely talented and respected coaches.”
It will be a rebuilding job. Ardmore was 3-7 last season and has had one winning season since 2006. Ardmore will play in Class 5A, Region 8 in 2018 along with Arab, Brewer, East Limestone, Guntersville, Madison Academy, Madison County and Scottsboro.
Danville completed its coaching search by hiring in house-selecting assistant coach Shannon McGregory. The Hawks play in 4A Region 7 with DAR, North Jackson, Fairview, Priceville, Randolph School, West Morgan and St. John Paul Catholic.
McGregory has been an assistant at the school for two years. He had previously been a head coach at South Lamar and Colbert Heights. Danville finished 3-7 in 2017 and have not won a playoff game since 1994.
Austin High school defensive coordinator is the new coach at Priceville High School. Simmons is a native of Sylacauga and has been an integral part of a coaching staff that has led Austin to two straight semi final berths with a record of 32-9 over the past two seasons.
“Priceville has not had a lot of football success,” Simmons said in the Decatur Daily. “Hopefully, they are hungry for some winning football.”
Part of what drew Simmons to Priceville is the growth of the area.
“The growth that is coming to Priceville reminds me of what happened to places around Birmingham like Chelsea and Pelham,” Simmons said. “Those communities had a lot of growth and developed successful football programs. “I see no reason for the same thing not to happen at Priceville. The new school is amazing. The athletic facilities are impressive. I’m excited to get started.”
Here is the latest list of coaching changes in the AHSAA.
TEAM FORMER COACH NEW COACH.
Ardmore Andrew Smith (interim) P.J. Wright
B.B. Comer Mike Battles, Sr. Unfilled
Benjamin Russell Danny Horn Unfilled
Bessemer City Quintin Jackson Unfilled
Chickasaw John Beverly Jason Rowell
Clay Central Chris Herron Danny Horn
Corner Zac Willis John Clements
Cottage Hill David Peebles Unfilled
Cullman Mark Britton Matt Plunkett
Danville Josh LouAllen Shannon McGregory
Dothan Kevin Jackson Unfilled East Lawrence Jarrod Helms Matthew Pettus
Elba Ed Rigby Unfilled
Ellwood Christian Mike Stokes Unfilled
Elmore County Norman Dean Jordan Cantrell
Eufaula Bryan Moore Ed Rigby
Faith Academy Jeff Estes Jack French
Florence J.B. Wallace Will Hester
Gardendale Matt Plunkett Chad Eads
Glencoe Rusty Davis Brian Alred
Helena Watt Parker Richie Busby
Houston Academy Jimmy Addison Jamie Riggs
Jasper Heath Brunner Bryan Moore
Mary Montgomery Chris Wilson Stan Cain
Minor Curtis Graves Adrian Abrams
New Hope Kenny Chadwick Bart Stephenson
Oneonta Brandon Herring Phil Phillips
Pell City Keith Etheredge Unfilled
Prattville Chad Anderson Unfilled
Ragland Brian Alred Unfilled
Robertsdale Brian Campbell Unfilled
Priceville Dirk Strunk Jason Simmons
Smiths Station Adam Fossett Unfilled
T.R. Miller Andrew Thomas Keith Etheredge
West Limestone Jordan Cantrell Unfilled
Winston County Bart Stephenson Mark Mitchell