David McKinney is coming home. The former Stevenson (Ala.) High School all-state quarterback, who played in two state championship games there, is returning to the town to take over the program at North Jackson, pending school board approval.
McKinney, who had been the head coach at Class 3A Gordo (Ala.) the past six seasons, where he compiled a 52-22 overall record, will be introduced to the Chiefs today. North Jackson principal Sam Houston said McKinney's ties to the area helped elevate him past about 20 other applicants.
Houston had narrowed the list to three finalists, with the other two being head coaches at south Alabama programs.
"David and the other two really separated themselves as the front-runners, and with David knowing the area there was a trust factor that we already felt good about and knew people in the community would feel good about," Houston said.
"He had expressed an interest in the job before when we had an opening, but we just weren't able to work it out then. We were really glad when he said he was interested again this time, and we made sure we worked out the details to get him here. The fact that he wants to be here was the biggest factor in making sure we got him."
McKinney, a 1983 Stevenson graduate, lettered in both football and baseball at Ole Miss. His father, Kenneth, was the head coach at Stevenson, guiding that program to Class 2A state titles in 1977 and '79 and a runner-up finish in 1981. In that '81 season, with David playing quarterback, the Panthers lost 3-0 in the final.
"I remember he played with a hard-nosed style, and we want to get back to that physical style as a program," Houston added. "We had gotten away from that style recently, but it's how we had so much success in the past, and I think David knows how important the game is here and will get us back to that level."
After working as a sporting good salesman for several years, McKinney returned to coaching as an assistant at South Lamar, where he worked for his dad, before taking over at Gordo.
McKinney takes over for Shawn Peek, who stepped down in early January after five years as the Chiefs' head coach and 12 years overall with the program. Peek, who went 50-13 with two appearances in Alabama's Class 4A quarterfinals and one trip to the semifinals, has been named the head coach at his alma mater, Pisgah.
North Jackson finished 7-5 last season, losing in the second round to eventual state runner-up Oneonta.