Moore County school officials needed only to look within their own walls as they searched for a new head football coach at Moore County High School.
After a short search that included 14 candidates, assistant coach Jeremy Austin has been tabbed to replace departing Scott Smith, who left MCHS in January to take a similar position at Warren County High School in McMinnville.
Austin, who is a 1997 MCHS graduate, had been serving as the team’s defensive coordinator. He’s also the softball coach at the high school.
While pointing to his qualifications — including his leadership and discipline — Moore County High School principal Buddy Smith cited Austin’s loyalty as a benchmark that the Raiders’ program needs.
“He has a vision for the program. I also believe in loyalty. I think loyalty is important,” said Smith. “I think he is loyal and dedicated to this school, to the football program and to these players. He can establish a program and build the program.”
Coach Scott Smith was at Moore County for four seasons compiling a 30-16 record, including a 6-6 record in 2013. Coach Smith’s Raiders went 10-0 in the 2012 regular season, bringing a district title back to Lynchburg. Austin has served as the team’s defensive coordinator since 2010 and the Raiders are coming off four straight Class 1A playoff appearances.
Before that, the head coaching position here was a revolving door, with Thomas McDaniel bolting for the head coaching position at Oakland after just one season and Steve Matthews parting ways to take an assistant coaching job at Siegel after two seasons.
“I think (Coach Austin) can bring continuity to the program and I think that is important,” added Principal Smith. “I think what that says is that he’s not looking to just punch a ticket … not just check a block on his resume. He’s dedicated to this school and this community. It’s not a stepping stone for him; it’s a destination.”
Director of Schools Chad Moorehead echoed Principal Smith, saying the fact that Austin had interviewed for the position before and was willing to come on board as an assistant coach spoke volumes of Austin’s intentions.
“Jeremy has interviewed for this position and scored well against other candidates. I think this is his third time he’s interviewed,” said Moorehead. “What proved his loyalty is that he was willing to take an assistant coaching position after he interviewed for the head coaching position. Seeing his leadership ability with the softball program and with our defense, he has earned his stripes.”
A hard barking coach on the sidelines, who often comes across as a Teddy bear when roaming the school hallways, Austin has earned the respect of his players as well. Principal Smith said that when the juniors on the team heard of Coach Smith’s departure, they had a team meeting to discuss potential replacements.
“I got very positive (feedback). What the players think is important to me,” Principal Smith said. “The day Coach Smith announced he was leaving and going to Warren County, the junior football players called a football meeting and talked, and then they asked me to come in and talk with them.
“Those junior leaders asked me to really consider Coach Austin. Now, that was not the main factor. I told them we would interview candidates and we would get them the best football coach possible, and that football coach could very well already be here.”
To read more on Coach Austin’s promotion, see the Feb. 6 print edition of the Moore County News. To subscribe, click here.
—ROBERT HOLMAN, Editor & Publisher