Jason Fitzgerald leaves Hixson for Meigs

Jason Fitzgerald leaves Hixson for Meigs

January 23rd, 2014 by Stephen Hargis in Sports - Preps

Coach Jason Fitzgerald watches as the Hixson Wildcats take on the Tyner Academy Rams in this file photo.

Coach Jason Fitzgerald watches as the Hixson Wildcats...

Photo by C.B. Schmelter /Times Free Press.

Jason Fitzgerald is going back home. Sort of.

Fitzgerald announced he has resigned as head football coach at Hixson High School to take over the program at Meigs County, which is located just 10 minutes from his home. Fitzgerald, who took over at Hixson two years ago after spending much of his career at Rhea County, was still making the nearly one-hour commute.

"It is closer to home which is great, but also Meigs County has a great tradition and I want to help get things turned around and back to where it used to be.

"They have great community support at Meigs, and there's just certain things you can get done at a community school but that are tougher to do at the larger city schools in Hamilton County. I do want to thank the administration and staff and the players at Hixson and I'm proud of what we've accomplished in a short time there."

Hixson finished 7-4 and second in District 6-AA in Fitzgerald's first season (2012), then built on that to win the district title and advance to the Class 4A quarterfinals for the first time in school history last fall, finishing 9-4 overall.

"We knew it would be a homerun hire for us as soon as Jason expressed interest," said Meigs County principal Clint Baker. "His track record at Rhea County and Hixson speaks for itself, but he's just as good if not better with building relationships with the kids off the field, and that's something we're excited about."

Meigs County finished 2-8 last season and hasn't had a winning season since 2007, making the postseason only once in the past six years.

Fitzgerald spent 16 seasons at Rhea County, his alma mater, as either an assistant or head coach, helping the Eagles reach the playoffs 11 times. With a career coaching record of 82-56, three district or region titles and four trips to at least the quarterfinals, Fitzgerald turned around a Hixson program that had missed the playoffs six straight years before he took over.

"We have time before spring practice to find the best man to come in and build off what Jason had started here," Hixson athletic director Brian Bray said. "We appreciate everything Jason did, but now we have to move forward."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293.