SARDIS CITY — Promotions and transfers forced Sardis head football coach Gene Hill to once again shuffle his staff over the summer.
The Lions joined all other teams in the AHSAA by kicking off preseason practice Monday.
Sardis offensive coordinator Zach Wallace stepped down after being promoted to assistant principal at Sardis High School.
Jordan Baker coached the secondary for the Lions last year, but he left for a job at Rainbow Middle School.
Hill’s other veteran staff members — Ty Harris, Matt Harris and Clay Wright — return for another season. Matt Harris and Wright will serve as co-offensive coordinators.
“Matt is still coaching the O-line, and he’s going to coordinate the running game,” Hill said. “Clay is coaching the receivers, and he’s going to coordinate the passing game.”
Cory Franklin joined the Lions’ staff after spending the last two seasons at Douglas with former head coach Bubba Jennings, who left Sardis’ staff in 2017 to take over the DHS program.
Hill promoted Sardis Middle School head coach Troy Elliott to the varsity staff. Elliott played for Hill at Etowah.
“We brought in Cory Franklin, who had been helping Bubba, and he’s going to help coach quarterbacks,” Hill said. “We brought Troy up, and he’s kind of helping everywhere.
“Ty is going to stay with the D-line, and I’m still going to coach linebackers and do the defense. Cory is going to help with the secondary too.”
Jennings’ stepson, Derik Snell, is a volunteer coach for the Lions.
“Derik is going to school right now, and he hopes to be able to do his practice teaching here,” Hill said.
In recent years, Josh Wallace left Hill’s staff to be Sardis High’s assistant principal. Dusty Darnell exited the Sardis staff for a job at Crossville in 2017 and became head coach in 2018.
Brad Bruce resigned from the Sardis staff for a position at Crossville before moving to Plainview as offensive coordinator. The Lions also lost volunteer coach Randy Hallmark, who retired.
“It’s nowhere comparable to that level, but it’s like [Alabama’s Nick] Saban said — it always means something good when people want your coaches,” Hill said. “If they don’t want your coaches or they don’t have an opportunity to move up, that’s not good.”
Matt Lofthus, who is the new Sardis varsity girls basketball coach, succeeded Elliott as Sardis Middle School’s head football coach. His assistant coaches are Dylan Bolding and Jay Boatwright.
“We’re looking for one more coach,” Hill said. “I usually like to have four down there.”
The Lions travel to Glencoe for a fall jamboree Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. They play a half each against Glencoe and Cherokee County.
Sardis’ season opener is Aug. 30 against Sylvania at Sardis Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Meet the Lions
The 2019 Meet the Lions event is Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. at Sardis Stadium.
Hill said all football players and cheerleaders from the peewee, middle school and varsity levels will be recognized, along with the Sardis High marching band.