Holcomb leaves CHS for position at Hoover

Miles Holcomb, right, signals a play during Crossville’s game against Albertville in a 7-on-7 competition at Aggie Stadium last July. Holcomb has resigned as Crossville’s head coach. Dusty Darnell, left, has been named interim head coach. Also pictured is CHS assistant coach Danny Smith.

Miles Holcomb has stepped down after two seasons as Crossville’s head football coach to become an assistant coach on Josh Niblett’s staff at Hoover.

Holcomb, a 2005 Crossville graduate, compiled an 8-13 record at his alma mater. He steered his 2017 team to a 4-7 finish and the program’s first state playoff berth since 2004. The Lions lost to eventual Class 5A state runner-up Briarwood Christian in the opening round.

Former Crossville all-state lineman Dusty Darnell has been named interim head coach. He returned to his alma mater’s coaching staff last season after a long stint on the Sardis staff.

“Coach Darnell will do a great job,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb joins a Hoover program that is the standard of excellence for Alabama high school football. The Bucs have compiled a 232-29 record since 2000 and won 13 state championships in their history.

Last year, Hoover beat McGill-Toolen Catholic of Mobile 48-20 to claim its third Class 7A crown in four years.

“It’s still surreal at times to think about, and it’s also bittersweet,” Holcomb said. “I’m excited, but at the same time, I’m leaving home and leaving a bunch of people I’ve built a relationship with.

“I had our game plan for spring ready and two weeks worth of practice plans ready, and then I got a text asking if I’d be interested in coaching and teaching at Hoover. You don’t get those very often.”

Holcomb will coach quarterbacks for the Bucs, who start spring practice May 2. He will commute back and forth while finishing the year as a math teacher at CHS.

“Offensively they are loaded,” Holcomb said. “They’ve got a bunch of guys back off their state championship team.

“It’s going to be an exciting experience. It’s a whole different level from any other school to Hoover, and I know there will be some type of learning curve.”

Hoover’s starting quarterback is expected to be rising junior Robby Ashford, who lists scholarship offers from Auburn and Georgia.

“They said he’s the real deal,” Holcomb said.

“I’ve been over there a couple of times and met the staff. I’m excited about getting entrenched in their offensive system and learning the playbook. They have 136 players, so they have guys that just play offense all day.

“I’m also excited to get to work under one of the winningest coaches in the state of Alabama. Coach Niblett has been there 10 years and has been to the state finals all but one season.

“When I was playing at Crossville, we played Oneonta when Coach Niblett was their coach, and I saw firsthand the job he’s able to do. To get to learn from a guy like that, from somebody at the top … they obviously do something different from everybody else, and I look forward to learning what that is.

“I want to get in there and do my job, and I hope to contribute in any way I can.”

Niblett has compiled a 129-16 record in 10 seasons at Hoover, including a 6-3 mark in state championship games. He also won a 3A state crown at Oneonta in 2004.

Holcomb said the most difficult thing about his departure was breaking the news to his CHS players. He still remembers where he was sitting in the CHS field house when Chris Garmon announced his resignation as head coach in April 2003.

“The guys bought in, and I know they will continue to do so,” Holcomb said. “They look like a different team in the weight room. They’re so much stronger and so much faster.

“If it’s Coach Darnell or whoever they get full-time, it will be a great deal. The coaching staff is still intact. They’ve got a bunch of great coaches on staff, and the kids won’t miss a beat.

“I fully expect to see them in the playoffs again and possibly competing to host a game in the first round.”

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