The road to becoming the head coach at his alma mater has been a fun and thrilling ride for Ted Gatewood.
Entering the fourth year in his tenure with the Red Bank Lions and his first as head coach, Gatewood is excited to step into a job in which the expectation is already known.
"There's a lot of long shadows in this program's history," Gatewood said. "Coach (Tom Weathers) was an extraordinary coach who was followed by another great one in Coach (Tim) Daniels and then of course Chris Brown did a fantastic job here too.
"The great part about this job is the expectations remain the same. We are in a community that takes a tremendous amount of pride in their program. The kids and coaches here understand the expectations that precede them. They want to represent Red Bank to the best of their ability and leave a mark on the program."
Gatewood is one of nine new head football coaches in the greater Chattanooga area. Those nine have a combined career record of 1,112-478 (.699).
Gatewood has exemplified what it means to take a program to the next level.
The 1983 Red Bank graduate led Ooltewah High School to its first playoff victory in 2000 with a 10-9 road upset over Mt. Juliet. The next week Ooltewah would fall to Red Bank who went on to finish a perfect 15-0 season as the Class 5A state champions.
In 2001, Gatewood then led the Owls to their first double digit win season and the first of three state semifinal runs in program history.
He was also the first head coach in East Hamilton High School history and by his fourth year Gatewood's team was one of the most dominant in the area. In 2012 the Hurricanes went 11-2 as they went undefeated in region play and outscored opponents 513-108. Current Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Tre Herndon was a valuable member of that squad.
"This is my sixth stop as a coach in my career and every single opportunity the circumstances have been different," Gatewood said. "The drive for results remains the same though. You use those experiences to build off of and I am so extremely blessed to have the opportunity to lead an amazing program at Red Bank now."
The Lions have outscored their competition 1,608-643 over the last four years in which they have won 40 games. Red Bank is the defending Region 3-4A champions from a loaded field which includes Central and East Hamilton.
Gatewood is excited about the 2022 Red Bank football program which returns its star backfield duo of senior AD Crutcher and sophomore Daune Morris. The two combined for 1,867 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns last fall. Junior 6-foot-3, 185-pound defensive end Kobe Smith is also back after an all-state season last year in which he recorded over 20 tackles for loss.
"We are at a really good spot right now," Gatewood said. "We return a great deal of valuable experience and are ready to get this thing rolling."
The other eight new head coaches include four who have been a part of staffs that won or played for state titles with other programs.
> Baylor's Erik Kimrey: The former South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback became a head coach at Hammond School in Columbia at the age of 24. In 17 seasons there he won 12 state championships — which included six in a row — while going 194-20 overall.
> Boyd Buchanan's Gary Rankin: Ranked ninth all-time in high school football history in career wins with 467, Rankin will look to bring a championship culture to the Buccaneers. In his last 16 seasons at Alcoa he led the program to 13 state championships capping his tenure there with a seventh stragith title last year.
> Brainerd's Martels Carter: This is his first varsity head coaching job but worked on the Panthers staff last fall. His daughter Kimia Carter was a Miss Basketball finalist at Brainerd and is now playing for HBCU's North Carolina Central University. His son, Martels Carter Jr., is a rising sophomore at Brainerd and is an elite college prospect for the 2025 class.
> Chattanooga Christian's Phil Massey: In 2004 and 2005 he helped lead Memphis University School to state championships as the offensive coordinator. He also had a pair of state runner-up finishes while at Haywood High School in the mid-1990s and Baylor High School (2010-11). Massey led the Red Raiders to a 112-73 record in 16 seasons and looks to help take the Chargers to the next level.
> East Ridge's Chad Barger: He led Cannon County to its first winning season in nearly 30 years and was responsible for Sequatchie County's first consecutive winning seasons in 13 years. Barger went 6-5 his first two seasons as the Pioneers offensive coordinator.
> Marion County's Tim Starkey: He was the quarterback on South Pittsburg's 1999 state championship team. After spending the past six years as a Warriors assistant, he will look to help lead a traditionally powerful program to a deep playoff run.
> Polk County's Derrick Davis: He returns home to the program which he led to 13 straight winning seasons and an undefeated regular season in 2009. Davis is 123-88 all-time in his career with Polk County and was a defensive assistant at Rhea County last year.
> Soddy-Daisy's Carter Cardwell: He has vast collegiate coaching experience, which includes time at Clemson, Auburn and UTC. He led Boyd Buchanan to a 9-12 record in two seasons and takes over a Trojans program that won region titles in 2018 and 2019.