Rockvale built a football staff around its first coach, Rick Rice, when the school opened in 2019.
In hiring its next coach, the school did the reverse, hiring a coach who matched the highly regarded staff.
Brian Guthrie, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant for the Rockets, was named the team’s second head coach Friday.
“We have a lot of really good coaches that we were strategically able to hire when we opened, and we added (Guthrie) last year,” Rockvale principal Steve Luker said. “We were strategic in hiring those guys to fit (Rice). Now we have the staff we needed to match the head coach to the staff.
“Coach Guthrie knows the framework, knows the community and the players and parents. It’s a good choice for all of those reasons.”
Guthrie replaces Rice, who resigned earlier this month to take the coaching position at Summertown.
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He’s no stranger to Rutherford County football. He spent the previous 15 seasons at Siegel before coming to Rockvale to coach the offensive line. He has also coached at La Vergne and Christiana Middle.
“I’m super excited. … I love it here,” Guthrie said. “The administration has been really good to me since I’ve been here, and our staff is top notch. We’re all real close, which is a big reason I wanted the job. I wanted to keep all of us together. We have great kids here.”
Guthrie, 49, grew up in West Tennessee, playing high school football for his father, Sam, at Gibson County High School. After graduating in 1990, he went to college at Ole Miss and then UT-Martin.
He has been coaching football for the past 25 years, but Rockvale will be his first head coaching job.
Rockvale had a breakout season in 2021, finishing third in Region 3-6A and reaching the state playoffs. The Rockets went 7-4 after winning just one game combined the previous two seasons.
“We’re still building,” Guthrie said. “We graduated almost 30 seniors last year, and most of those kids had been playing since they were sophomores. We have to rebuild that leadership and experience.
“It’s not a ‘me’ thing around here, it’s an ‘us’ thing. Coach Rice was that way. I’m that way. Coach Rice did an awesome job getting us started and where we are. I just want to keep that train going.”
Rockvale opens the 2022 season at home Aug. 19 against La Vergne.
Reach Cecil Joyce at [email protected] or 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Cecil_Joyce.