There are five new head football coaches in The Jackson Sun’s high school coverage area.
Each of those coaches will have varying degrees of expectations of how well their teams will do in their initial seasons leading their programs.
Here’s a look at each of those new coaches and how those expectations should probably be viewed going into the season.
• Tyler Turner, Liberty: Expectations for the Crusaders would probably have taken a bit of a drop anyway this year had former coach Steve Hookfin stayed because of the experienced senior class they lost last year.
The fact a brand new coach with whom the players were previously not familiar came from out of state means there’s a learning curve present that should be accounted for. That means instead of penciling Liberty in as an automatic for the top four in its new region in Class 3A, the Crusaders are now a contender for that No. 4 spot.
• Brian Moore, South Side: The Hawks had one win last year. They had three the year before that. They’ve had 13 wins in the last four years. There’s no real reason to expect much of the Hawks this year except for a couple of key components to the 2015 team.
First of all, the Hawks have a big senior class this year with a lot of experienced players. Recent history shows teams with big and experienced senior classes typically exceed expectations of previous teams because of the knowledge they already bring to the team, allowing coaches to focus on more complex issues to make the team better during the offseason.
The second is the fact that Moore has been in the Hawks’ program since the current players were still learning their colors, how to count and how to tie their shoes. His institutional knowledge of the program comes from working under three head coaches (four if you count two stints for Jerry Hayes), and seeing what’s worked and what hasn’t.
Plus, he’s loyal. He’s had chances to go other places and coach, but he’s said no every time. That suggests he’s invested in the success of the program.
• Shane Jacobs, Peabody: Out of this list, this is the coach “expectations” may be the most unfair to. Not many people would readily take over a team with a good portion of a state championship winner returning simply because of high expectations and the standard a lot of the fan base will probably hold the team to this season.
Jacobs knew about those expectations and still took on the role of leading this team to, hopefully for them, competing for another championship. But he’s got plenty of experience coaching the current crop of players coming in. He played a big role in strategizing throughout the playoff run. Former coach Ricky Woods gave him credit for changing offensive strategy to feed quarterback Kendrick Malone the ball in the second half at Trinity Christian. He made the lineup changes in the second half to come back on Huntingdon a week earlier.
The main difference between Jacobs’ job in 2014 and ’15 is he’ll have to stay on the field a few minutes longer in postgame to talk to the media.
• Steve Hookfin, Haywood: This one was covered earlier in the week with a story about the Tomcats and the fan interest growing at a rapid pace in Brownsville.
Hookfin is the only one in this group who isn’t a rookie head coach. He also isn’t one to shy away from expectations. He actually expects to have expectations and demands his players embrace them and try to live up to and eventually surpass them. The only expectation he wants is to lead his team to Cookeville for a championship.
Will the Tomcats do that in 2015? The physical ability is there. The main obstacle is how the players handle the mental aspects of the coaching change.
• Josh Wolfe, West Carroll: This coach may have the lowest expectations of the group, and here’s why. West Carroll is a team coming off a 3-7 season that lost 13 seniors from a roster of 36. The program is moving into a new region (Region 7-1A) that has two defending state champions expecting to compete for the district title.
Their former head coach (Josh Fronabarger) announced his departure after Memorial Day for Crockett County’s offensive coordinator position, leaving the program in uncertainty throughout the month of June. A new coach was brought in from another program in Camden who hasn’t had many reasons to look at West Carroll in the past decade.
Not much should be expected out of West Carroll this season. But the players in Atwood love their school and want to win for their town and school. Wolfe is a War Eagle alum who wants to succeed as well. A new coach always brings excitement to a program, which may be good for two wins by itself.
All of these coaches will have expectations within their respective programs they want to live up to and outside the program they’re expected to live up to. We’ll begin to see if they will in seven weeks when the season opens.
Brandon Shields is the high school sports columnist for The Jackson Sun. Contact him at 425-9751 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at jacksonsunsports.