Coaching his alma mater's team

Brandon Lyles spent 10 years as a teacher and coach at Douglas before taking a job at Albertville, where he worked from 2016-19. Lyles and his coach, Rex Mitchell, are the only former Eagles to lead the school’s football program.

DOUGLAS — When the door opened for Brandon Lyles to return to his alma mater, Douglas, as head football coach, he didn’t hesitate to walk through.

The Marshall County Board of Education approved Lyles’ hiring during its May 28 meeting at Brindlee Mountain High School. He succeeds Jamison Wadley, who resigned after one season.

Lyles was a three-sport standout for the Eagles before graduating in 2001. He started his teaching and coaching career at Guntersville, where he spent a year as an aide before joining the faculty and coaching staff at DHS.

He worked 10 years at his alma mater before leaving for a job at Albertville, where he served the last four years as an assistant football coach. He was the Aggies’ defensive coordinator in 2018-19.

“It caught me off guard, but I’ve been very thankful for the opportunity and just been kind of overwhelmed by the support I’ve gotten from [Superintendent] Dr. [Cindy] Wigley, [Principal] Mr. [Patrick] Smith, [Assistant Principal] Mr. [Brian] Sauls, former players, friends and just the community in general,” Lyles said. “I’m just excited to get going, very excited to get going.

“Leaving Albertville was one of the hardest things I could do. That school system was great, the people I worked for were great and the coaching staff was great. But when I look at it and I see my family is here … I want to be able to coach my three boys, and my wife’s here. It was hard to turn down.

“There’s a lot of family still here. A lot of friends that I know are still here. Just getting the opportunity to coach their kids will be something that I’m excited about.”

Lyles’ wife, Haley, teaches at DHS. They have four children — sons Baker (fifth grade), Braylon (third grade) and Bryant (4 years old), and daughter Emma Rae (second grade).

One of Lyles’ goals is to restore stability in the Douglas program. He’s the fifth head coach since Brian Knapp served from 2008-15.

“I think about my kids and their friends — I want them to see the same face from now until the time they graduate,” Lyles said.

“It needs to be cool to play football at Douglas. They need to see a sense of pride, and I want the community to get behind us. Just bring a sense of pride and respect to this community. Be competitive in games, play hard, play with passion and play with energy. That kind of stuff will come with stability.”

Lyles worked for Knapp during his tenure at Douglas, and he watched Knapp bring stability to the program.

“I still talk to him until this day,” Lyles said. “I enjoyed working with Coach Knapp.”

Lyles worked three years for Dale Pruitt at Albertville. He spent his final season there working for Cliff Mitchell, his former Douglas teammate.

“Working under Coach Pruitt was a great opportunity, watching how he builds a program and seeing how he does things,” Lyles said. “And then Coach Mitchell, you see how he’s doing up there.

“All those guys, it’s more than just the program building. It’s how they treated people, how they treated their students, their players and the people around them. To me, it’s more than just coaching football. You want to be successful as a head coach, but you want to have a lasting impression on the people you’re around.”

Lyles inherits a DHS coaching staff that includes a former teammate in Tim Stewart, along with Lawayne Garrett and Jason Whitis.

“Coach Garrett was one of my coaches, and I worked with him,” Lyles said. “I’m trying to get coach Trevor Mitchell on board. I’ve always said it’s good to be working with a Mitchell. I want Trevor on board. Janssen Baker is another option as far coaching staff goes.

“Coach Whitis is going to coach junior high for me. There’s a few other guys I’m still looking to try and get in.

“I’m just trying to get some of these guys who have done it in the past, who care about Douglas and want to be here and want to do a good job and want to see us succeed.”

Lyles said the Eagles will start summer workouts June 8.

“There’s a lot of rules and regulations we’ve got to go by,” he said, in reference to the coronavirus pandemic. “Everybody’s kind of playing catch up. We want to abide by the rules the best we can and try to get to work and see if we can get ready for the season.”

The Eagles kick off the Lyles’ era by hosting Weaver on Aug. 21.

Lyles looks forward to working with Douglas varsity boys basketball coach Skylar Baugh, a fellow DHS alumni.

“I coached Skylar, and me and him will get along really well,” Lyles said. “That will be a good situation.

“These kids in this school need to be playing all sports. They have to play all three sports in order for this sports program in general to be able to succeed.

“I played all three, my kids are going to play all three and that’s what I want to push. Just because they’re playing football doesn’t mean they can’t go play basketball and baseball. We need all the athletes out here to play everything.”

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