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.