’Jackets tab own for football challenge

’Jackets tab own for football challenge
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Greenfield is reaching back into its past in hopes of improving its football future.
Don Pitt, who played and starred for the Yellowjackets in the 1990s and whose grandfather and father both coached at GHS, was officially named the program’s new man in charge on Monday.
The 30-year-old Pitt has most recently been the defensive line coach at Jackson Central-Merry, but also served six years as the offensive line coach at Lambuth University.
He was chosen from a field of more than 20 applicants to replace Jason Rodehaver, who resigned at the end of the 2011 campaign following a winless season that ended his five-year tenure with a 13-37 record.
Pitt was an all-state middle linebacker at Greenfield during his senior season and was a vital part of three consecutive Yellowjacket teams to make the state playoffs from 1997-99. During that time, Greenfield posted a combined 21-13 record, advancing to the second round of the postseason in the first of those years.
His grandfather, Don, was the Yellowjacket head coach from 1963-67 — directing G’field to a pair of Reelfoot Conference championship games — before dying tragically when a train hit his pickup truck the morning after his team had beaten Dyer County 32-0.
The new coach’s father, Kevin, assisted both Jerry Gage and Hal Blackman in the program before also dying in an accident in the fall of 1997 at a local grain company.
Those ties to the community and the football team made the opportunity to return home and rebuild a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2002 attractive.
“When I walked down that sidewalk beside the school and saw both my granddad and dad’s names in the walkway, it brought a great deal of pride to me,” Pitt told The Press Monday. “I know it’ll be a difficult task — especially at first — but I’m looking forward to restoring the respect that the program had when I was there and when my granddad and dad were coaches there.”
In addition to the lack of success the last decade, declining numbers in the program have made depth a serious issue with the ’Jackets in recent years.
Pitt is not ignoring that.
“The numbers thing is a concern to a lot of people, I know, but I plan on going in there and finding some people who I believe love the game,” he said. “I’m going to go up and down the halls and see if there aren’t some kids there who want to play and be a part of something special when we get it turned around.”
Simply being competitive will admittedly be the first step in that process after Greenfield was outscored 402-80 last season.
The young and thin Yellowjackets gave up 40 or more points in seven games and never scored more than two touchdowns in any outing.
Published in The Messenger 1.10.12

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