Looking to ensure its young football program continues to take steps toward becoming a championship contender, Chattanooga Christian School turned to a veteran coach with experience in guiding multiple programs to that level.
Less than two weeks after its head coaching position came open, CCS filled it with Phil Massey, whose career accomplishments include helping guide three programs to state title games.
"During the interview and selection process, and as word got out that Coach Massey was being considered for this position, it was common for me and other CCS leaders to receive unsolicited calls and text messages from people wanting to share how profoundly they were impacted by him," CCS athletic director Daniel Russell said. "They shared comments like 'He is the type of coach I would want my son to play for,' and how great a fit he would be for CCS.
"We were struck by his passion for Christ-centered discipleship and relationships with student-athletes as well as his Division II knowledge. His college-like coaching approach is an added benefit, and I believe this style, combined with a proven relationship and discipleship-focused plan, will help propel our program forward."
Massey worked as Baylor School's head coach for the past 16 seasons, compiling a 112-73 record and reaching the TSSAA playoffs in all but two of those seasons, including consecutive Division II-AAA state runner-up finishes in 2010-11. His time with the Red Raiders marked the third-longest tenure in program history, and his teams reached at least the state semifinals six times.
"After talking to their administration, I felt a peace about it," said Massey, who as a high school quarterback was named an All-American by Parade magazine and later played at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. "I'm honored to be their new head coach and really appreciate the opportunity to continue my coaching career. I look forward to working extremely hard with all the young men there in each facet of their life.
"With them being a young program, and my 21 years experience coaching in Division II, I think it's a very good fit for both me and them. I've seen how D-II evolved, and they've been taking very positive steps in becoming more competitive. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to help continue building on that."
Before coaching at Baylor School, Massey worked as an assistant at Memphis University School, where he helped the Owls win back-to-back DII-AAA state titles in 2004-05 as offensive coordinator. MUS also reached the semifinals twice with Massey calling offensive plays, and prior to that he was the head coach at Haywood High School in Brownsville, where he led that program to consecutive Class 4A state runner-up finishes in 1994-95.
CCS, which began competing in football in 2009, made the transition from the TSSAA's public school league to Division II in 2016; the Chargers have advanced to the state quarterfinals twice since then, reaching in DII-AA in 2019 and 2020. Since making the playoffs for the first time in 2014, they have missed only once (2016).
"Sometimes you get in places with long traditions, but this is a chance to build new traditions," said Massey, whose record as a head coach is 174-109. "That's not something everybody gets the chance to do. That's another aspect that made this job attractive, getting to be a part of something that is taking off and growing and finding its place."
Massey takes over for Mark Mariakis, who stepped down in late January after seven successful seasons in which he helped build up the roster from 34 to 65 players and oversaw a staff of assistants that doubled from five to 10 coaches.
"Our goal from the beginning was to search for a candidate whose priority is to use the captive audience that football creates as a tool to disciple young athletes. From early on in the interview process it was clear that Coach Massey brings a unique blend of leadership, passion for our whole school and its mission, and head coaching experience," Russell said. "Coach Massey will be building on the foundation that has been established by our previous staff, and I look forward to seeing all he can do here leading our program."