With the benefit of three months to reflect on his first season as a head football coach, Red Bank's Chris Brown decided there were two aspects that needed attention in order for the program to take the next step and contend for a state championship.
On Wednesday, Brown announced two impressive staff additions and released the Lions' much tougher schedule for the 2019 season.
Ted Gatewood, a Red Bank alumnus and a former successful head coach at East Hamilton and Ooltewah, has been added as the Lions' defensive line coach. Shannon Williams, another former Ooltewah head coach, has been hired to take over as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
"I just reached out to both to gauge their interest and was really excited when Ted and Shannon decided they wanted to come be a part of our staff," Brown said. "Shannon is someone that will not only teach our guys how to execute at a high level but will also make them better young men. Ted is also a great leader of young men and someone who brings a high level of intensity and experience as a head coach. Plus Ted is a Red Bank guy who understands what this program is all about.
"As far as our schedule goes, it is a lot tougher than it had been, but we feel like our kids deserve a regular-season schedule that will prepare them for the playoffs. I don't mind taking some chances by playing tougher competition because I believe that will make us ready for the type of teams we'll see later."
Last season, the Lions won their first 11 games before bowing in the Class 3A state quarterfinals. Red Bank won each of its last eight regular-season games by at least 21 points, but Brown believes those lopsided outcomes actually hurt his team once the playoffs began. He said the Lions would benefit and improve more by seeing tougher competition throughout the regular season.
Four of the Lions' first five games this season are on the road. They will open at rival Soddy-Daisy and follow that with games at Ooltewah, against Signal Mountain, at East Hamilton, at McMinn Central, against South Pittsburg, at Sweetwater, against Rhea County, against Brainerd and against Loudon.
Gatewood recently stepped down after 10 seasons as head coach at East Hamilton, where he compiled a 53-58 overall record that included going 6-6 in six playoff berths. The Hurricanes advanced to the quarterfinals twice under Gatewood, including in 2012, when they won a region championship and finished 11-2.
Williams went 9-4 in his last season at Ooltewah, reaching the 5A quarterfinals, and finished with a 21-14 overall record there.
"Ted and Shannon are professional at everything they do," Red Bank assistant principal Wendell Weathers said. "They have demonstrated it time and again. They both place high expectations of excellence on themselves in the classroom as well as the field. We are lucky to have them, but we also know that their decision to choose Red Bank High is a testament to Coach Brown and his staff as well as our school.
"Ted is coming home, to a place he helped build. His homecoming is long overdue."