NEWPORT—Cocke County athletic director A.C. Willis laid out his plan shortly after the high school head football coaching position became vacant.
In that plan, his main two objectives were to move in a swift manner, and find not only the right fit for the next coach at CCHS, but to bring in someone who saw the program as a destination job.
In a span of just a few weeks, he accomplished both.
On Tuesday afternoon Cocke County introduced CCHS alum Scotty Dykes as the next head coach of the Fighting Cocks.
“I’m extremely happy this day has come,” Willis said. “It’s been a long last three weeks. We looked at over 30 candidates, and coach Dykes was on that list from day one. We didn’t know if it would be possible to land him, but we were at least going to try.
“Had a lot of help from central office. Mr. (Manney) Moore and (Casey) Kelley both helped out quite a bit with this. They helped make things happened that needed to happen.”
Talks began to heat up over the last two weeks of the search. Dykes found himself as the frontrunner for the position during that time and from there it was just a matter of getting everything to fall into place.
“A talk here and phone call there led to me being in this position,” Dykes said. “Reaching out to a lot of people in the community really helped out. As it went on I finally sat down and talked with my wife and my family, and we all agreed it was time.”
Dykes will be a non-faculty football coach at Cocke County, as he will continue to run his State Farm Insurance agency out of Harriman that he’s had established since 2000. The TSSAA several years ago allowed for non-faculty head coaches in revenue sports such as football and basketball.
Dykes was a part of the class of 1989 at Cocke County High School. He played for the Fighting Cocks from 1985-88, and went on to become a member of the East Tennessee State University football program after graduation.
“I’m grateful to be able to come back and be the head coach,” Dykes said. “All the coaches I’ve coached with, they’ve all had the chance to go back to their alma maters and coach. Today is the day my dream came true.”
With the Buccaneers, Dykes would go on to become one of the most prolific wide receivers in ETSU history before graduating in 1994.
He still holds the mark of a top 10 season in yards receiving with 810 yards on 43 receptions in 1991. He also holds a top five average in yards receiving with 15.9 yards per reception throughout his four years in Johnson City.
Dykes makes his way back to Newport after serving as offensive coordinator for Hardin Valley Academy. Before moving to Hardin Valley, Dykes was also an assistant at Harriman and Austin East where he was a part of a state championship run. He followed his former college teammate, Wes Jones, from Harriman to HVA, where Jones recently resigned.
“I applied five years ago before (former CCHS coach Caleb Slover) got the job,” Dykes said. “I don’t think I was ready then, but after spending the last five years with coach Jones and some of the other coaches on that staff has put me in a better position to do this.”
Beginning his first stint as a high school head coach, Dykes takes over a Cocke County football program that just wrapped up its most successful season in over two decades. Not only did the Fighting Cocks secure their first playoff berth since 2011 in 2018, but also finished with a winning record (7-4) for the first time since 1996.
The 2018 edition of the Fighting Cocks set a number of records, including tying the 1993 team’s mark of most points scored in a season with 375 points last year. However, much of that team has since graduated and will not be around for Dykes’ first season as head coach.
Although before 2018 the two best seasons the program clung to in this decade were a 5-6 finish in 2011 and 4-6 finish in 2017, Cocke County has been on the upswing over the past few seasons.
With the standard changing around the program, Dykes inherits a group that has grown accustomed to winning, and has had a taste of what it’s like to be successful at the 5A class level.
“These guys had a great season last year, and we want to build on that,” Dykes said. “My vision for us is to compete for region championships every year. I know that may be a lofty goal, but that’s what we’re going to do here.”