By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
Remember the excitement in 2006 when Gadsden City High’s first football team hit the field?
Recall the optimism when that inaugural squad, comprised of players from Gadsden High, Emma Sansom and Litchfield, finished with a 9-2 record and a playoff appearance?
Fast forward to 2012.
Despite making the Class 6A semifinals in 2009 and reaching the state quarterfinals the next season, Gadsden City seems to have hit something of a plateau, finishing the past two years with identical 6-5 records.
Two months ago, head coach Joe Billingsley resigned because of the past two seasons. Two weeks ago, Matt Scott was hired to fill that vacancy and even though the Titans won’t compete in another game until the end of August, it seems that the former Hueytown coach has brought some of the excitement back.
Scott’s stated goal is to take Gadsden City to the next level and play for state championships.
“Anytime there’s a change, you can expect differences,” he said. “I’m not saying that anyone has done anything bad or that my way is better. But it will be different. I want to see Gadsden City become a household name around the state, like Hoover is now.”
Anyone familiar with Alabama high school football knows of Hoover, winner of several 6A state championships in the past decade.
So what attracted the Titans’ search committee to hire Scott?
“We were looking for someone who had coached at a school with similar demographics as Gadsden,” principal Keith Blackwell said. “We wanted a coach from a large school and one who was offensive minded. We received 55-60 resumes and interviewed the people who sounded as if they fit what we wanted. When coach Scott interviewed, he sold us.”
Scott was an assistant coach at Spain Park in 2007, when the Jaguars made the Super Six. He was hired to be head coach at Hueytown in ‘09 and in his third season took the Golden Gophers to the semifinals. Scott posted a 35-13 at Hueytown. The Golden Gophers won the region title in 2011.
Blackwell said that before signing the paperwork, feelers were sent out all over the state, asking opinions of Scott. Not a single person spoke badly of him.
“We even talked to some coaches in Georgia, and they all said good things,” Blackwell said. “There wasn’t a negative word said by anyone.”
Scott, a Cullman graduate, knows something about state championships. He coached the Bearcat softball team to two state titles.
“I have no doubt in my mind that (Scott) will take Gadsden City to high places,” Cullman football coach Mark Britton said. “He is a tremendous organizer and a great people person. A lot of people have one or the other of those traits, but it’s unusual to find someone with both.
“As with any new coach, the first year may have some bumps, but he will get them headed in the right direction. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and after three to four years, I predict he will have the Titans going deep into the playoffs.”
Blackwell also noted that it would take a little time.
“People are going to have to have patience,” he said. “If we go out in our first game and lose big to Florence, some people will be asking why we hired him. They’ve got to let him have time to get his program in place.”
Gadsden City athletic director Carl Hunter said that Scott’s association with quality programs was another plus.
“He’s coached at some high profile schools,” Hunter said. “And he’s got the latest and greatest technologies, especially in offense. Everything that we found out about him made him sound more and more like the right man.”