Johns steps up to coach Forrest

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Brent Johns, who took over the Forrest football head coaching duties on Monday, addresses his squad in his classroom. Photo by Anthony S. Puca

The revolving door that has become the Rocket football coaching position is no longer spinning as Forrest graduate Brent Johns stepped up to the challenge of bringing some stability to the program.

"I want to come in and try to provide some stability to the program, we have had five head coaches in the last six years and that is just too much turnover," Johns said. "I'm not going anywhere, I have an 11-year old, a nine-year old and a four-year old that go to school here, so I am here until at least they are done."

Moving up

Johns, who came back to his alma mater three years ago to serve as offensive coordinator for Brian Coleman's one year stint at FHS, has held the same position under the since departed Matt Kriesky, who left for Centennial last week after two years on the Forrest sidelines.

"This wasn't in my plans, but a lot of times things just can't be foreseen," Johns said. "A lot of good football coaches would have taken this job, but I feel like I am the one who understands this community and understands this group of kids as well as anybody."

There was much interest in the Forrest coaching position according to FHS Principal Davy McClaran, who along with Johns chose stability for the best interests of the current players and the program.

'Consistency'

"Our first and foremost concern was consistency and keeping the program headed forward, keeping the work ethic at the level it has been and keeping the zeal for the program," McClaran said. "He (Johns) is going to be a foundation and a cornerstone of our program, so this is a huge day for us."

Johns graduated from Chapel Hill in 1990 and went to college at MTSU before joining TSSAA Hall of Fame coach Bob Edens' staff in his final season at Marshall County High School.

Johns stayed on at MCHS under Mac McCurry, who taught him about the offensive side of the game that is still Johns' expertise.

"I can't tell you how much I learned in that one year under coach Edens and I can't tell you how much I leaned offensively from coach 'Mac' (McCurry), he is as good as it is in my book," Johns stated.

Past experience

While in his final two years at MTSU, Johns also coached middle school football at Forrest with longtime coach Kyle Stacey and the two paired up for back-to-back undefeated seasons with FMS.

In his three years as offensive coordinator at Forrest, the Rockets have exploded with success, posting a 25-10 overall record, an impressive 17-2 region mark and five playoff game appearances that resulted in two wins and three losses.

In 2015, the Rockets scored 427 points for a massive 36.4 points per game average and led Region 4AA in scoring while capturing the school's first region title in 29 years with an undefeated 7-0 record in league play.

The Rockets beat Bledsoe County in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Marion County in the second round.

Defensive leader

Johns will keep the offensive coordinator duties and hand over the defense to Eli Stephenson, who decided to stay at Forrest after considering interviewing at Centennial with Kriesky.

"That was one of my big things when I was considering it if I could convince coach Stephenson to stay because he has been involved in the defensive game planning the last two years, especially the dirty work that happens on Saturdays," Johns said. "So I chose him because I think he can maintain the level of defense we have played here at Forrest the last two years."

What Johns does know will be true is he will get the upmost support from his family and Chapel Hill where the Johns' are an integral family in the community.

"I can't tell you how important that is, I got texts and calls from former players and the community and I just can't name them all, I wish I would have wrote them down," said Johns. "My family support was very important and my wife's encouragement all week to take the job and get her blessing was what put me over the top."

Looking ahead

The Rockets open the 2016-2017 season with back-to-back home games versus Huntland and Moore County respectively and Johns is looking forward to the challenge that he is sure to meet with his plan of stability to stay the course in order to maintain the successes of the past three seasons.

"I don't see a lot changing, we have developed a way of doing things here and a process of doing things here in all phases of the offseason and the summer that started under coach Coleman," Johns said. "I want to thank coach 'Mac' (McClaran) and coach (Scott) Delk (Forrest Athletic Director) for trusting me with this job and I heard from Jackie Abernathy (Marshall County Director of Schools) earlier this week and Jacob Sorrells (Marshall County Deputy Director of Schools) and they both encouraged me to do it, so I feel like I have everyone's support."