published Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Johnson new coach at North Jackson

After a long and sometimes frustrating search, North Jackson High School has found its new football coach. Tony Johnson, who had been an the offensive coordinator at Leeds High near Birmingham for five years, has been hired and will begin overseeing workouts on Monday.

"It's a relief that we were able to find someone with so much experience and that we felt comfortable with to take over the program," North Jackson principal Sam Houston said. "He's been around a lot of good football programs as a player and a coach and there are a lot of similarities in his style and what we're used to here."

The school has been looking for a new coach since late April, when David McKinney resigned less than two months after being named as the Chiefs coach. McKinney cited "family reasons" for stepping down abruptly, leaving Houston and several former players, including current University of Alabama linebacker Tana Patrick and former Crimson Tide safety Ali Sharrief, to help conduct spring practice and workouts.

Johnson, 42, has been a coach for 19 years in Alabama, including a one-year stint at Dora High. He also played for a national championship team at the University of North Alabama.

"From the time he first interviewed we felt comfortable with him," Houston said. "He was real genuine about everything and with his plan for the program. I told him my number one concern was the kids because they had already been through a lot. I wanted somebody that my kids could trust and follow into battle and know that he was behind them. I feel like Tony is our guy to do that."

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293.

about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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