BELLEVUE – John “Woody” McMillen’s first head coaching job in football was starting a new program from scratch.
He will now be on the opposite end of the spectrum after taking over one of Kentucky’s oldest programs in late April. McMillen was recently named as the new head coach at Bellevue High School.
“Once you’re a coach, you’re always a coach,” he said. “I felt there was a couple of places I always wanted to coach at, and Bellevue is one of them. It’s a real special community. They’ve been playing football there for a really long time.”
McMillen started the program at Walton-Verona nearly 10 years ago, and it has grown into a formidable team in Class 2A. McMillen had stepped down from the coaching position at W-V after its first varsity season in 2008, eventually returning to be an assistant coach in the program and assistant athletic director. He will move into a teaching spot at Bellevue in the fall.
The Ludlow High School graduate was head baseball coach there previously and assistant in basketball and football. Now he is looking forward to working for a river rival.
“One of the things that makes Bellevue a special place is they have so much tradition,” he said. “You see plaques on the wall by the cafeteria. There are some big-time names, state championship trophies. You talk to people who have played there and have stayed in the community. There are generations of people who have stayed there. You walk into the stadium and you can feel it. It’s one of the stadiums built in the Depression by the Works Progress Administration and it looks great.”
Although Walton and Bellevue are 30 miles apart, McMillen has been trying to visit his new school as much as possible while he tends to his current Bearcats, including running things at home spring sports events.
“The kids have been great to talk to,” he said. “The school and leadership have been very supportive. I spent an entire day in the cafeteria talking to everyone. I’m trying to get my feet wet in the community.”
Bellevue was 7-5 last year and rewrote the school record books for passing offense, and many of the playmakers in that offense will be graduating. Walton-Verona has thrived on a punishing running attack, going 10-2 last year and averaging more than 300 yards per game on the ground.
Which way the Tigers will go this fall is yet to be determined.
“You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself into a system,” McMillen said. “We’ll have a look at them and see what we have. We’ll play to their strengths and put them in position to succeed. We’ll block through the whistle, fly to the ball and be aggressive. What we’ll try to do is try to play fundamentally sound – block and tackle, play the game the way it should be played.”
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