Greenfield sees bright future in past
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
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, the Yellowjackets 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.”
Greenfield’s 2003 record of 6-5 record followed a 9-3 mark in ’02, only the second time in the playoff era (since 1969) the ’Jackets have had back-to-back winning seasons.
The other came in 1971 (8-2) and 1972 (6-3-1).
In addition to the lack 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 of their 10 games and never scored more than two touchdowns in any outing.
“Our first goal will be to get out there and compete with everyone we play. It’s about putting in the hard work and taking some pride in who you are and what it means to put on a Greenfield jersey.
“After we learn how to compete, it’ll become easier to learn how to win.”
Pitt, who met with prospective team members and interested persons on Monday, said he’s already had numerous people in the community whom he was familiar with pledge their support to getting the program to a level where it can consistently measure up to others in District 14A and the surrounding area.
“I’m coming in excited about the opportunity, and I’ve had some people come to me who are excited the prospects of the program, too,” he said. “Being from here helps a lot in that instance. The people here know me and they’ve known my family. They want to help make the football team be something the town is proud of.”
The new coach was unsure of the makeup of his staff, but said Blackman — the former high school coach and current junior high skipper — would be a part of that mix.
Pitt and his wife, Emily, are the parents of a two-year-old daughter, Ellie. Published in The WCP 1.10.12