Prep notebook: First-year football coaches find going mostly tough

Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Red Bank football coach Ted Gatewood celebrates as the Lions make a goal-line stand during a season-opening win on Aug. 19 at Cleveland.

They never said it would be easy.

Given that most football programs change leadership in hopes of turning fortunes around, it's not surprising that most first-year coaches find the going tough. Last month, 12 new coaches took the field in the greater Chattanooga area (nine in Tennessee, three in Georgia), and success has been hard to come by for that group -- especially in the public school setting.

While new private school coaches Erik Kimrey (Baylor), Phil Massey (Chattanooga Christian) and Gary Rankin (Boyd Buchanan) have combined to go a stellar 12-2, the nine public school newbies have produced a 12-29 record -- and that's counting Ted Gatewood's 4-0 start at Red Bank. Three of the other wins belong to Derrick Davis at Polk County, who technically is a new coach for this season but previously had many successful years as the Wildcats' coach from 2000-2018.

Marion County's Tim Starkey has led the Warriors to two wins, with Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe's Mac Bryan, Soddy-Daisy's Carter Cardwell and Brainerd's Martelz Carter each owning one win. Chad Barger at East Ridge, Kurt Napier at Murray County and Craig Pritchett at Ridgeland are seeking win No. 1 at their new jobs.

Of the nine public school programs that changed coaches, the only two with winning records last year were Marion County (9-2) and Red Bank (8-4). The rest combined to go 15-55.

Gatewood's milestone

In his first season leading his alma mater, Gatewood notched his 100th victory as a head coach in Red Bank's 33-7 Region 3-4A win at Soddy-Daisy on Sept. 9. An assistant for the Lions the past three seasons, he has also been a head coach at East Hamilton and Ooltewah.

Gatewood added his 101st victory last Friday as the Lions, ranked No. 4 in their classification, won at home by the same score over region opponent Central, which turned the ball over six times. Red Bank has forced 14 turnovers this season.

Ogle's latest honor

Signal Mountain senior golfer Peyton Ogle became the program's first five-time all-district selection as he won the District 5-A championship Monday by shooting a 4-under-par 68 at Brown Acres. The Tennessee Tech signee pulled away early, making the turn at 3 under.

Star performers

Girls' soccer: Baylor junior Jada Cooper scored at least two goals in a run of six straight matches that concluded with Saturday's 2-1 win over Greeneville. Cooper scored both goals in the second half on assists from Sophia Mize. ... Silverdale Baptist Academy improved to 10-0-1 as junior Addie Chapman had four assists and two goals in an 8-0 victory over Notre Dame.

Volleyball: Boyd Buchanan's Caitlyn Kruse had a dozen aces in a win over Notre Dame. ... East Hamilton's Tristin Sutton had 10 aces in a win over East Ridge. ... Sale Creek's Ava Higgins had a .650 hitting percentage and 16 kills in a win over South Pittsburg. ... Arts & Sciences freshman Savannah Moore had 11 blocks and as many kills in a sweep of Marion County. ... Boyd Buchanan (20-2) received 94 digs from Calla Brady in a quad match sweep.

Compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact them at