Coaches Collage

Patrick Nix, Roger McDonald, Juan Williams, Buster Daniel, Reco Newton and Adam Hunter represent the six new head football coaches among our 18 local schools.

Adam Hunter’s promotion at Valley on Wednesday capped off what was a wild carousel of coaching teams among our local schools this spring.

Six of our 18 area schools will have new head coaches roaming the sidelines once the season kicks off in late August. Here’s a deep dive on all six new coaches and what they’re looking to bring to the table for their new teams.

Central-Phenix City

Old Coach: Jamey DuBose (Now HC at Lowndes County, Ga.)

New Coach: Patrick Nix

Summary: The Red Devils lost a multi-state champion in DuBose but replaced him with another in Nix, the former Auburn University quarterback who captured back-to-back state championships at Pinson Valley with his son, Bo, handling the duties behind center. Nix has been an accomplished coach for nearly 25 years — which included 17 years in the collegiate ranks — and arrives in Phenix City with a 66-22 career record as a high school head coach.

Central became a Class 7A powerhouse under DuBose’s leadership, and Nix’s hiring ensures they won’t be going away anytime soon. Even though the Red Devils graduated several key players from a 2019 team that lost in the state championship game, expect the group Nix leads out onto the field this fall to once again contend for that coveted blue map trophy.

Coach’s Quote: “It’s an opportunity to obviously come and be a part of a successful program that has a lot of expectations but also has all the needs you have to have, the players you have to have and the resources, the administration and the coaches you need to be truly successful at the highest level. Our expectation is to truly be successful at the highest level — not just in this state but in the entire country.”

Dadeville

Old Coach: Richard White (Retired)

New Coach: Roger McDonald

Summary: White was the face of Dadeville football for 21 years, but after deciding to retire he hands the keys over to McDonald, a close friend who has a well-established reputation as one of the top coaches in the state. McDonald takes over the Tigers’ program with 16 years of head-coaching experience under his belt with stops at Beauregard, Valley, Greenville (Ga.) and Carroll. Over that time, his teams have posted a 102-70 overall record with nine winning seasons and nine playoff appearances.

Dadeville has traditionally been one of the area’s toughest teams, and even though the Tigers’ last few seasons didn’t match their expectations there is still plenty of talent within the program. Now, McDonald gets his chance to do just what he did at Beauregard and Valley before: show that his squad is one that other area teams better be prepared to face off with.

Coach’s Quote: “(Coach White) gave everything with 21 years as the head coach I think and 31 years there altogether. We’re close friends, but I’m going to do things differently. I know what coach White wanted. He wanted somebody not to be him and do it the way he did it, but that (his replacement) was somebody who was going to do it right. I think (Dadeville) has lots of pride and tradition. They’ve always had tough, hard-nosed, physical kids, which is a good fit for what I do.”

LaFayette

Old Coach: James Lucas (Retired)

New Coach: Juan Williams

Summary: Lucas called it a career this offseason after a successful six-year run with the Bulldogs and turns the program over to Williams, who is fresh off a two-year stint at Greensboro. Williams has had a penchant for taking on rebuilding efforts in his coaching career, and in his 14 seasons as a head coach he has a record of 56-88 with three playoff appearances and six seasons of at least five wins. His most successful stint as a head coach was his first at Barbour County, where he won 38 games and was the first coach in program history to lead the team to a winning record when the Jaguars won eight games in 2008.

Lucas brought to LaFayette a level of consistency that the program lacked for the better part of the decade that preceded his arrival in 2014. Now, the onus on Williams is to continue that winning pattern — even with the added challenge of arch rival Lanett joining the Bulldogs’ region.

Coach’s Quote: “I’m very excited by the situation that has been given to me by (LaFayette principal Don) Turner and (Chambers County superintendent Kelli) Hodge. I’d like to first thank them for the opportunity,” Williams said. “I knew it was small-town ball with kids that are going to get out there, do their job and do the things to be winners. That’s always attracted me. I know there are athletes up there. I’m just going to try and add on to the things that are already there.”

Lee-Scott Academy

Old Coach: Robert Johnson (Now HC at Montgomery Academy)

New Coach: Buster Daniel

Summary: It was an unexpected one-and-done for Johnson at Lee-Scott, as he led the Warriors back to the playoffs after a one-win campaign in 2018 but left after the season to take over at his alma mater. In his place comes Daniel, a well-known coach by many in the area who earned a great reputation during his time as an Opelika assistant but cemented his success in a strong three-year run at Valley. Daniel led the charge in rebuilding the Rams’ program, as he took over a team that had won seven games in three years and posted a 14-19 record during his tenure. The highlight came last fall, when the team went 7-5 and won its region for the first time since 2011.

Johnson helped Lee-Scott get back on track as a true contender in the AISA’s Class AAA, and now Daniel gets his turn to show what Warriors football is all about. Given his work at other local programs, it’s a safe bet that Lee-Scott will be a team to look out for once the season is underway.

Coach’s Quote: “I’m a guy that’s going to work hard and try to continue to build the program. Coach Johnson had some success out there last year and won a few more games than they had the last few years. I’m a guy who’s just going to try and continue to bring success out there. We’re going to go to work and work hard, but we’re going to build relationships with the kids to be successful.”

Loachapoka

Old Coach: LC Cole (Now HC at Park Crossing)

New Coach: Reco Newton

Summary: Cole has made numerous coaching stops over his career, and after two seasons as the head coach at Loachapoka he opted to move on and take over at Park Crossing, a Class 6A program. In his places comes Newton, who knows the program well after serving as Cole’s defensive coordinator over the past two seasons. Newton doesn’t lack for experience himself, having spent two seasons as the head coach at Wilcox Central and spent time as an assistant at Valley, Lanett, Greenville and Blount. He won five games at Wilcox Central as the head coach of a program that had endured a 20-game losing streak prior to his arrival.

Cole’s time as Indians head coach featured several accomplishments but saw the team miss out on a playoff berth by one game each season. Now, Newton is looking to reinvigorate the Indians and help the squad go to the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Coach’s Quote: “It’s a great program full of tradition. I just feel like it’s a great opportunity for me to be here, and I’m looking forward to it. I think (my familiarity with the team) will be a great deal of help. I’ve been here two years. I’ve got an understanding and relationships with the kids that are already here in the program. Also, I’m working on building up that relationship with the community. I’ve had an opportunity to meet some great people in the community and am looking forward to meeting many, many more.”

Valley

Old Coach: Buster Daniel (Now HC at Lee-Scott Academy)

New Coach: Adam Hunter

Summary: Daniel built up a Rams’ program that lacked an identity prior to his arrival and now turns the team over to Hunter, a longtime offensive assistant as well as the school’s athletic director. Hunter has been at Valley for 13 years and served in several different capacities during that time, and his promotion is a natural one given how successful the team has been over the past three seasons.

Daniel achieved a great deal during his stint at Valley, but the Rams have some tough challenges ahead with their move up to Class 6A and into the same region as Opelika. Although the task ahead will be difficult, Hunter promises to be a coach who knows what has worked in the past and is willing to push his players in order to make more big moments possible for Valley football.

Coach’s Quote: “I want to gauge our success off of five and 10 years down the road with what our kids are — what kind of men they are. If we can build those characteristics and teach them the right way to do things with hard work, perseverance and all those things, then we’re doing our jobs. As long as we work hard and do things the right way, the scoreboard will take care of itself. We want to win, but we want to do it the right way.”

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