Football

Ex-U of L player Smith named coach at Seneca

Louisville's Preston Smith (6) brings down Wake Forest running back Kenneth Moore in the third quarter of the Orange Bowl football game Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Louisville’s Preston Smith (6) brings down Wake Forest running back Kenneth Moore in the third quarter of the Orange Bowl football game Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Preston Smith, who played linebacker for the University of Louisville football team from 2004-07, has been named the head football coach at Seneca High School.

Smith replaces Ted Leasor, who stepped down in January after posting a 1-21 record over two seasons. The Redhawks finished last season with just 18 players on the roster.

“My main thing will be to build the morale and built relationships with the players,” Smith said. “I’ve been around a few players, and it seems like kids want someone they can trust and who will go to bat for them.”

Smith, 31, is a 2003 graduate of Washington County High School in Sandersville, Georgia. He moved from quarterback to linebacker during his playing days at U of L.

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Smith began coaching football with the Jewel Park Trojans of the Metro Louisville youth league and also had stints as an assistant coach at Kentucky Country Day from 2010-12 and 2014-15. Last season he moved back to Georgia and served as the offensive coordinator at Calvary Day School in Savannah. The Cavaliers finished 10-1 after falling in the quarterfinals of the Class A Private School playoffs.

Smith said one reason he wanted to return to Louisville was that his wife and children stayed in the city while he coached in Georgia last season. Smith said he plans to move back to Louisville this weekend.

“After sitting down with (Seneca athletic director Scott Ricks) and talking with him, we clicked right away,” Smith said. “I knew Seneca was the best fit for me. You just know when something is going to be right.”

Smith will inherit a Seneca program that has endured eight straight losing seasons and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2011.

With Smith’s hiring, Pleasure Ridge Park is the only school in Louisville still searching for a new football coach.

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes@courier-journal.com.