This story was updated March 27, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. with more information.
Central High School found its new head football coach, and it's a familiar name. Curt Jones, who coached the Purple Pounders from 2001 to 2004, officially returned to the program Tuesday afternoon.
"We are excited to have Curt back at Central High," principal Finley King said. "His experience and his ability to connect with young people were the attributes that impressed us the most.
"We also believe that Coach Jones will give us the consistency and stability that we need for a winning program."
The Central job came open one month ago when Cortney Braswell left to take over at Ridgeland, and Jones, who has been an assistant at Notre Dame the past three years, admitted he immediately was interested in applying. And Notre Dame head coach Charles Fant encouraged him.
"He told me I needed to pursue it," Jones said. "That meant a lot to me and was what I needed to hear to push me toward going after the job. I can't say how much I appreciate everything Coach Fant has done to help me in my career.
"Cortney did a great job with the program, and I'm just looking to continue what he started."
Jones, 44, led Central to the playoffs in two of his four previous seasons, including an 8-4 record in 2003 when the Pounders reached the second round before losing to eventual state champion Maryville.
After leaving Central, Jones was the head coach at Meigs County for one season, then was an assistant at Sequatchie County for four years — working as both the offensive and defensive coordinator during that time. As Notre Dame's defensive coordinator, he helped the Fighting Irish reach the Division II-AA state championship game last fall.
"I'm speechless," Jones said. "I've wanted to come back to Central for a long time because of the feelings I have for the program, and seeing so many familiar faces today and feeling the welcome I received from the Harrison community has been heart-warming. Getting to meet the kids and talk to them about the future was really special.
"It's really been a very humbling day. I always felt comfortable leading young men and preparing them on and off the field, but now I have a better idea of all the inner workings outside the game that I wasn't prepared for before. I feel like we have unfinished business here, and I can't wait to get started."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.