Rebels’ coach ready to put down roots

Rebels’ coach ready to put down roots
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Sports Editor
Kevin Goltra says he left Obion County a couple of years ago because of family.
He claims he’s returning to the area largely due to the same reason.
Goltra — the defensive coordinator at Obion County Central in 2009 before moving to Middle Tennessee and Kenwood High School and marrying — has been named the Rebels’ new head football coach.
He will replace Shawn Jackson, who resigned the post late last month after five seasons in which he compiled a 22-32 record that included three trips to the state playoffs.
The 35-year-old Goltra, briefly a member of Jack-son’s staff, got the nod Thursday from OCCHS Athletic Director Craig Rogers, who said he weeded through “well over 50 applicants” and had “four outstanding interviews.” The official announcement of Goltra’s hiring was not made until today due to official “procedures,” according to Obion County Director of Schools David Huss.
Goltra served two seasons as defensive coordinator at Kenwood after leaving Troy before taking over the Knights program and leading them to a 5-6 record and state playoff berth, where they were beaten by eventual Class 5A state champion Beech in 2012. Kenwood had not won more than three games in any year since 2007 prior to this past season.
At Obion County Central in ’09, his defensive unit surrendered 22 ppg when the Rebels made the first of their three consecutive playoff trips.
Though his initial time in the area was brief, the new Rebel skipper envisioned himself returning when and if the opportunity arose.
“I knew I’d have a great deal of interest in coming back there,” Goltra told the Messenger Thursday afternoon. “I was about to marry a girl from Middle Tennessee (after the 2009 season), and I didn’t think it would be fair for me to uproot her and my three new step-children while the kids were trying to get to know me and me them in a short period of time. It’s been a while now, and I believe my family will love it there as much as I did when I was there earlier.
“I loved the county, the kids and the school. Even though I was only there a short period of time, it felt like home. My hometown had only about 250 people and small places and rural settings are what I’m used to. My best memories from there are from staying up all night and cooking the Boston Butts (for fund raisers). The kids there were great. They would beat you to the fieldhouse for 6 a.m. workouts in the summer.
“I just felt so comfortable there. I truly believe my family will love it, too.”
Rogers said the hiring process was a difficult one, but claimed, “We had four outstanding interviews. I would’ve felt comfortable with any of them. All are good positive guys.
“In the end, we had to chose one. Him (Goltra) having some head coaching experience was a plus in his favor, and he’s an outstanding (history) classroom teacher that I’ve seen up close and personal before. And probably another thing that tipped things in his favor is an unsolicited letter from (Henry County head coach) James Counce, who said he’d done a great job with the program there at Kenwood. That was very influential with me.”
Rogers also confirmed he, principal Linda Crigger and fellow assistant principal Greg Barclay had impressive sit-downs with current OCCHS assistant Mark Jackson, Rebel alumnus and present Dyersburg defensive coordinator Paul Decker and Westview aide Trey Cantrell.
“They each brought good things to the table and each had sound faith-based character,” the Rebel AD said.
Both Rogers and Goltra relayed the same story when the question of continuity in a position that has been void of stability during the 52-season history of the program at the school. Eight of the previous 13 head coaches at Obion County Central have had a tenure of four years or less.
“He told me, ‘I’ll be here 20 years unless you run me off,’” Rogers said of an interview exchange with his new coach.
In an interesting twist, Mark Jackson actually gave Goltra his first job in Kansas City several years ago and actually wrote him a letter of recommendation for the Central position. Goltra is hopeful — and it is believed — Jackson will remain on the staff.
“Mark and I share a lot of the same philosophy and character. He’s like a brother to me,” Goltra said. “I’m hoping he can be a building block in the best coaching staff in West Tennessee with the help of our administration.”
The new OCCHS skipper also has experience in the Missouri prep ranks as a defensive coordinator and previously coached in the junior college ranks in South Dakota, too.
He said in his only season at Kenwood, the Knights ran for more than 4,500 yards with three backs gaining more than 1,000 yards each and another totaling 890 yards out of a wing-T set. All totaled, Kenwood piled up more than 5,500 yards of offense — the coach says — “with small linemen.”
“We’ll be a run-first offense with a great hard-hitting defense that will play with a great deal of passion,” he insisted. “We will win in the weightroom first, then on the field.”
Goltra said he would be part of Central’s spring practice in 2013, but couldn’t say for sure if he’d be on campus fulltime for the winter school semester. He claimed making the 21⁄2 hour trip from Clarksville regularly would not be an issue if a faculty position at OCCHS does open up in January.
With wife Tiffany expecting twins in early February, the Goltra clan will grow to five children and seven members in all.
And the coach says his intent is to indeed put down roots in the area this time.
“I want to get there as a coach and us a family as soon as we can,” Goltra concluded. “And I have every intent of staying there until I’m the old gray-haired guy that they have to run off and tell that it’s time to quit.”
Both coach and school hope that’s a long time.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 12.17.12

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