Photo: Former Etowah High assistant football coach Jamison Wadley (pictured at center) recently was hired as head coach at Douglas. Pictured with Wadley is DHS Principal Patrick Smith (left) and at Marshall County Schools AD Alan Garner. (Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter)
By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
Jamison Wadley is a man of faith who allows God to guide his life, and that trust led him to Douglas to become the school’s new head football coach.
The Marshall County Board of Education approved Wadley’s hiring during its July 25 meeting. Wadley succeeds Don Simmons, who was hired in June but resigned this past month apparently due to health reasons.
Wadley starred on the defensive line for Etowah, where he earned ASWA All-State honors, and for Jacksonville State, where he received All-Ohio Valley Conference honors.
Wadley became an assistant coach at Etowah in 2012 and served as defensive coordinator from 2014-18.
This is Wadley’s first head-coaching position. He is familiar with the Eagles’ personnel because Douglas and Etowah have been Class 5A region opponents since 2014. The Blue Devils won 54-0 last year.
“I want to be a head coach and had probably 12 to 15 different opportunities throughout the summer of jobs to take, and just nothing felt right,” Wadley said. “We prayed about it and prayed about it. What do we need to do? Where do I need to go? I was even okay with taking a year off from coaching. Whatever God’s will was, that was what I was willing to do.
“I got some information on this job late when it was open in June, but again just kind of took that as, ‘well, that ain’t God’s will.’ What’s the chances of it opening up again? When it did, the phone calls that were made and the people that reached out … it just felt right.
“I know it’s unusual circumstances and it is late, but that’s the negative sides of it. I feel like as long as God is a part of it and He’s got His hand on it, I don’t think it’s a bad situation. I don’t think there are bad situations as long as you make Him a part of it and He’s got His hands on it.”
Wadley’s hiring took place 11 days before preseason practice starts Aug. 5. Marshall County students begin the 2019-20 school year Aug. 7. Douglas’ season opener is Aug. 30 at DAR.
Wadley coached from 2013-18 on Drew Noles’ staff at Etowah. Noles resigned following the 2018 season to become head coach at Westbrook Christian. As defensive coordinator, Wadley oversaw an Etowah defense last season that limited the opposition to under nine points per game while posting five shutouts.
Noles and new Douglas High School Principal Patrick Smith are longtime friends and attended high school together at Boaz. Noles’ recommendation proved essential in the Eagles’ hiring of Wadley.
Douglas assistant coaches Tim Stewart and Jason Whitis and volunteer assistant coach Lawayne Garrett led the team through its summer strength and conditioning program. Smith and Wadley will meet to dis-cuss any additions to Wadley’s coaching staff.
“The kids have been working out, they have been conditioning and doing those things just like nothing happened,” Wadley said. “They’ll be anxious and ready, and it’s going to force the community, kids and coaches to rely on each other and become one to make it work.
“I also think it’s very important that you don’t try to make up for lost time. The worst thing I can do is try to make up for lost time, and that’s any of us – all the coaches, the players, the community. You don’t make up for lost time; you take what time you’ve got and build off that.
“In order to establish what I’m wanting to establish, there’s just things that can’t be rushed. Those are steps I don’t want to skip. It may be a locker room thing or a weight room thing or just some kind of a pride thing that would be easy to look at and say, ‘well, that’s not necessarily football, so we might not worry about that.’ No, from this point on, we’re going to treat it just like we’re on schedule with everybody else and start building.”
Wadley is the Eagles’ third head coach in three months. Bubba Jennings resigned in May after spring training, and Simmons came aboard in June. Wadley wants to close the door on the program’s summer of uncertainty.
“From this point forward, all this is in the past,” Wadley said. “I don’t want the kids to talk about it, I don’t want the community to talk about it, I don’t want the school to talk about it, because it’s done and over with. It makes it easy to feel sorry for yourself, ‘well, we didn’t have a coach for this amount of time.’ You don’t want to create that kind of culture. I think there are a lot of positives that are going to come of it.”
Sardis head football Gene Hill, was Wadley’s defensive coordinator when the latter was an All-State defensive end in the early 2000s, was confident that Wadley would su-cceed at Douglas.
“Jamison’s a coach through and through, and I know he’s excited to put his stamp on his own program. He’s a hard worker and will do a good job.”
The Lions and Eagles are Class 5A Region 7 rivals and will meet on Sept. 20 at Douglas.
“It will be a bittersweet night when we line up and play, and it’s different when you see your [former assistant coaches] on the other sideline.”
Chris McCarthy contributed to this article