NEWPORT—The 2019 high school football season is a mere two months away, and Cocke County High School’s first year head coach Scotty Dykes has his staff set for his opening season as head coach.
The Newport native and CCHS alum wasted little time to begin working on putting together a staff that would surround him for his first season as head man of his alma mater. Cocke County’s 2019 staff will include a mix of new and old faces, as Dykes retained a few holdovers from former coach Caleb Slover’s regime.
“I thought it was good to have a mixture of new coaches and remaining coaches,” Dykes said. “It helps the kids feel at ease with some of the new guys coming in.
“I expect the new guys to bring a different energy, which will be something our kids have to adjust to, but having guys that have already been here and are a familiar face will help ease that transition.”
Familiar faces will fill the staff sheet from top to bottom. Whether it be retained staff members or additional alumni, Dykes’ initial staff holds its fair share of recognition within the county.
Matthew Morris, Casey Ragan, Aaron Gregg, Darius Collins and Jordan Keller have all been retained from the previous regime, while CCHS alums Daniel Dudley and Ben James have returned home as assistants for the Fighting Cocks.
“We were fortunate to fill many of our spots with guys that have previous experience with Cocke County,” Dykes said. “It’s great to have those guys back with the program. They’re the first to understand what it means to see this program succeed.”
Dudley, who got his start in coaching at Cocke County, will assume for the offensive and defensive lines. He returns to CCHS after spending the last eight years at multiple stops in various roles. His most recent stop was a five-year run with Northview Academy, where he held titles such as defensive coordinator, special teams coach, defensive line coach and tight ends coach.
James also began his coaching journey at CCHS from 2009-13. He ventured to nearby Cosby for the next two seasons before taking a job as defensive backs coach with Jefferson County under current head coach Spencer Holt where he’s spent the last three years.
James returns to Cocke County wide receivers and defensive backs coach.
Among the holdovers from last year’s staff, Ragan and Collins will also serve as assistants that will work with wide receivers and defensive backs. Morris, who served as defensive coordinator a year ago, will help coach quarterbacks. Keller will remain as the team’s running backs coach, and Gregg will help Dudley with both offensive and defensive lines.
Jeff Howard, a four-year coach from Hardin Valley, has also chosen to follow Dykes back to Newport.
Howard coached defensive line during all four years at Hardin Valley, and will assume the role of defensive coordinator. Dykes, who was the offensive coordinator at Hardin Valley before returning to Cocke County, will also hold play-calling duties on the offensive side of the ball.
Confidence is a must for a first-time head coach, and Dykes isn’t short of it with the staff he’s put together. He’ll have the backing of a group that knows what it takes to not only win, but win big and at a high level as he begins his tenure as head coach of the Fighting Cocks.
“I feel very good about this staff,” Dykes said. “A lot of these guys know what Cocke County football’s all about. Our kids have responded well with some of the changes we’ve made, and they’re getting used to what we expect out of them.”
Cocke County will open the 2019 campaign on August 23 with a trip to Campbell County.