Big Coaching Changes in North Alabama

April 8, 2019

There has been some major movements among the north Alabama coaching fraternity in the off season and there are still some schools needing leaders as teams approach spring football by the end of the month.

In November, Tripp Curry retired after 23 successful years as head coach at Cherokee County. The Warriors step across the state line and replaced him with Jacob Kelley, who had been offensive coordinator at Cedartown, Georgia. Before that Kelley had been head coach at Washington Wilkes High School.

Matt Plunkett left Cullman after one year and landed in Locust Fork. He was replaced at Cullman High School by Oscar Glasscock. Glasscock had served as the Arab head coach for a single season also. But the opportunity to come back to Cullman where he played and served as an assitant coach was an important factor. “The feeling is the timing is right,” Glasscock said. “It’s never been a career goal to be back at Cullman as a head coach. I had nine wonderful years at Cullman. I loved my time here and built great relationships. Glasscock, who graduated from Cullman in 1985, played multiple positions — linebacker, tight end, guard and defensive end — under former head coaches Jerry Elmore, Jim Pyburn and Dale Cook.

Glasscock was replaced at Arab by Lee Ozmint. Ozmint had taken over the defensive coordinator job at Oxford for the last three seasons after compiling a 77-37 record at Glencoe from 2006-2015. After Smitty Grider left Hazel Green for Dothan, Falkville’s Joel Schrenk got the job. Schrenk spent seven years at Falkville and his 2018 team had the most successful team in school history going 11-1 and scoring 573 points. “It’s a new challenge,” Schrenk said. “Hazel Green, I think, is a lot like Falkville, just on a bigger level. So we’re excited to get in the community, get involved and raise support, just like we did at Falkville. I really think there’s a ton of potential there; the facilities are good, the players are good. We just need to get in there and love on them, build a staff and get after it.”

Some of the better known programs saw leadership changes. Lance Tucker left Fayette County to go to Bartlett High School in Memphis. He was replaced by Bill Smith who had just completed his fourth season at Munford. He will be the first Fayette County coach not named Tucker since 1984. Smith spent the last four seasons at Munford, going 28-18 and making three playoff appearances. He had previous stops as head coach at Crossville, going 9-11 from 2009-10, and leading Shades Valley to three playoff appearances in four seasons from 2011-14.

Mark Rose left North Jackson to take the job at Russell County High School. “It’s back in the area where my wife and I have family, so it’s a great area for us and, at the end of the day, our goal was to get back closer to the Auburn area, where we have kids and grandchildren,” he said. Rose spent several seasons at nearby Smiths Station as head and assistant coach. North Jackson hired Madison Academy offensive coordinator Chandler Tygard as their new head man. “I want to make everything a first-class experience for the kids and anybody who walks into the field house,” Tygard said. “Coach Rose did a great job of building some big, strong, mean dudes who can pound people. They’ve always been known for flying around to the ball and hitting you in the mouth, and we won’t change that.”

Coach Bob Godsey retired from the public schools and took the job at Madison Academy. Godsey is the winningest coach in Hartselle history, going 141-51 in 16 seasons. His 2011 team won the Class 5A state championship. “I’m blessed beyond what I deserve; 16 wonderful years in Hartselle and then a wonderful opportunity at Madison Academy,” Godsey said. “It’s a great environment for all aspects. Being able to leave public school and go to a private school, obviously that was a positive. When you look at Madison Academy and the success that they’ve had on and off the field, it’s something you want to be a part of. 

Drew Noles did the same at Etowah, retiring and going the private school route after taking the head coaching position at Westbrook Christian. “We think that there can be great things happening at Westbrook,” he said. “It’s a quality football program with quality players, and we want to be just a small part of it. We know that the schedule will be tough, but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. We’re excited about what the future looks like.” John Holladay went from Tuscaloosa County to replace Noles at Etowah. “I’m very excited to be the head football coach at Etowah High School,” Holladay said. “A lot of tradition and a lot of history. We are just excited to be here.”

Bo Culver left Deshler High School for Godsey’s job at Hartselle. “The great tradition athletically but also the balance between that and the way the guys perform just through the entire school system … that speaks volumes of this community. We are beyond excited and blessed and can’t wait to get started.”

Chris Musso is the new head coach at Haleyville. Musso spent the last six seasons at Locust Fork. “I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the opportunity,” Musso said. “ … I think it’s a great opportunity to rebuild at a great school with a great past. We’re going to be a blue collar team. We’re going to do a lot in the weight room and we’re going to get after it four days a week all year round.” Brian Knapp has replaced Kyle Garmon at Gaylesville, Kelly Rushing is the new man at Shoals Christian and Ben Guin has taken the Vina head coaching job.

Ryan Hall has replaced Oakman’s Mark Hastings, who won 71 games over the last ten years and made the playoffs the last 8 seasons. Hall served last season as Jasper Middle School coach, but was an assistant for several years under John Holladay and Heath Brunner at Jasper.

Cherokee County offensive coordinator Justin Taylor is the new coach at Weaver High School. “Me and my family are just excited to be back in Weaver and be part of that community because we lived there for six years,” Taylor said. “I’m sitting here with my wife and we’re getting text messages from people in Weaver we went to church with and people who knows us from there and they’re excited. It is like coming home.”