For the second straight December, Kenwood High School is searching for a new head football coach.
Kevin Goltra lasted only one season after the former Knights defensive coordinator now becomes the former head coaching. He turned in his letter of resignation Thursday afternoon and has been hired as Obion County’s new football coach, according to Kenwood athletics director Frank Wilson.
“Well we were kind of surprised,” Wilson said Friday. “We didn’t see it coming. I thought we were set for a few years with coach Goltra, but he had an opportunity elsewhere and decided to take it.”
Goltra spent three years as an assistant at Obion County before becoming the defensive coordinator at Kenwood under former coach Brett Bauer.
Bauer resigned as Kenwood’s coach last year and Goltra was hired in late January. A Missouri native, Goltra spent two years on Bauer’s staff before taking over the program.
“It was completely a family decision,” Goltra said. “I love the administration at Kenwood and they’ve been great, but for my family it was best for us to go back to western Tennessee. It gives my wife a chance to stay home. She’s pregnant with twins and this was something that I just had to do.”
Goltra said he went through the interview process weeks ago, but wasn’t informed until Thursday that they had chose him. However, his hire is not yet official as the school system must approve his hiring.
“I love those Kenwood kids and had to tell them (Friday) about my decision and it was the hardest thing I’ve done,” Goltra said.
“I did not want to stay just one year, but this was an opportunity for my family I just couldn’t pass up.”
Goltra is expected to finish out the school year at Kenwood where he is a government, philosophy and physiology teacher, Wilson said.
“They made a good offer to him at a place where he’s familiar with and is comfortable with,” Wilson said. “I’m not disappointed by this. Maybe I’m a little shocked but not disappointed. I certainly understand his reasoning. But this is the trend of coaching these days. It seems like every year or two or three, you’re having to hire a new football coach.”
Wilson said the school will probably post the position Monday and will start searching for a new coach when the second semester starts in January.
“It’s hard to say just how quickly we’ll be able to find someone,” Wilson said. “Obviously we want to find the best coach possible, as well as the best teacher. That will take some time so we want to take our time and get it right but also be mindful of the football program.”
Spring football begins for many Montgomery County football programs in May and Wilson said he’d ideally want a coach inserted into the program by that point, but is willing to pursue the position beyond the spring. But several schools in and around Montgomery County have scrambled to adjust to a new coach weeks before the fall football season.
The most recent was Stewart County whose initial hire, Kenny Haggard, resigned last July 4. Tim Taylor was brought in nearly three weeks later, just a few weeks before the first football game.
Northwest’s coaching search lasted into late June before settling on former Stewart County assistant Chris Austin.
Wilson isn’t thrilled with the idea of having this coaching search possibly last beyond the school year.
“We don’t want that,” he said. “But we understand that we have to do what’s best for the school, our classrooms and the program. Hopefully we’ll find someone who will fit what we’re looking for in a matter of a few months and have him in here before the spring so they can implement their schemes.”
Goltra led the Knights to a 5-6 record and 4-4 in District 10-AAA during his lone season. The Knights advanced to the Class 5A playoffs for the first time in five years, but lost to eventual state champions Beech in a first-round score-fest, 64-28. Goltra came into the program wanting to change what he felt was a stagnant culture in the locker room. His offense continued to put up the big yards and big points like in previous years, but defensively the Knights had trouble stopping teams. The Knights never scored less than 20 points, but they gave up an average of 32.1 points.
Kenwood had three runners gain more than 1,000 yards this past season, led by Maleek Hall’s 1,506 rushing yards. Quarterback Malcolm Perry ran for 1,187 yards and Sam Lipsey rushed for 1,110 yards. All three combined for more than 30 rushing touchdowns.
“I don’t know how much it was the coaching staff or some pretty special players that decided they were tired of losing,” Goltra said. “They figured out that going out there and giving it 100 percent was better than going out there and giving it 50 percent and seeing what happens.”