Pell City native hired as Ashville High football coach


Photo: New Ashville High School head football coach Kirakias Shepard is pictured with wife Demetria, son Hudson Beau and daughter Hadley Rae. (submitted photo) 

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Kirakias Shepard did not have to travel too far to secure his first high school football head coaching job.
The Pell City native took U.S. Hwy. 231 North 18 miles to accept the above position at Ashville, a move that was confirmed by the St. Clair County board of Education on Tuesday, June 27.
A 2009 Pell City High School graduate, Shepard was the defensive coordinator for his alma mater last season. He replaces Shea Monroe, who went 13-17 in three seasons with the Bulldogs.
“Being from this area, I knew that Ashville is known for having tough and gritty kids, so when the job came open, I was interested in coming up there and getting things turned in the right direction, said Shepard.”
Shepard acknowledged that he must hit the ground running due to his late hiring date.
“We’re really late to the party with it being the end of June, so we’ve got to hire a couple coaches and then start doing our football stuff. It’s too late for 7-on-7s but we’ll probably have some OTA’s in the middle of July with some teams from around the county.”
Shepard’s top short-term goal is supplementing his roster.
“We’ve got to get some more kids out,” he said. “They graduated a lot of seniors, and I think last year they may have had between 30 to 35 kids that were grades 9 through 12. My goal is to get 20 percent of the student body out there, which is roughly 15 to 20 more boys.”
Looking down the road, Shepard would like to see sustained success, which he feels starts at the middle school level.
“That’s going to be our foundation, and we’re going to put a lot of emphasis on those kids and invest a lot in them. That way, when they get to us, things will be second nature to them and we won’t have to start behind the eight ball.”
In terms of core values, Shepard pointed to developing the habit of doing everything the right way.
“That includes doing everything we can to be successful in the classroom and not getting in trouble in school. There is a certain way we’re going to practice and there is a certain way as coaches that we’re going to prepare in order to ensure success. If we do the little things the right way, we’ll get this thing turned around.”
Although Ashville went 2-8 last year, the 2020 and 2021 squads went 5-5 and 6-4, respectively.
“We definitely want to build on that,” said Shepard. “The talent is there; we just have to get it out and develop it.”
Shepard started for four years in football at Pell City under Jay Brown, with the Panthers going 10-2 his freshman season. He also played baseball in high school. While he attended Jacksonville State University, Shepard was a volunteer varsity assistant at Pell City from 2011 to 2014. He was then head coach for the school’s junior high team until he received his degree in physical education and health education in 2019, at which point he went to St. Clair County High School in Odenville for three years as a teacher and assistant coach. He returned to Pell City last season as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Shepard had already experienced a good deal of support from the community during the short time he’s been on the job.
“There’s a recipe to a program’s success, and one of the key ingredients of that recipe is community involvement,” he said. “People have been coming up to me all week and telling me that they’re willing to help out in any way, so I’m very excited for the opportunity to work with all these individuals.
“As far as the student body is concerned, I want the kids that go to Ashville to have pride in their school. If we can instill a sense of pride in our students, they’ll come out and support all of our sports teams.”
Ashville kicks off the 2023 football season on August 24 at St. Clair County on Odenville.

Latest News

Advanced Manufacturing Center now open
Chamber hosts legislative summit
Young ladies selected for Annual Bal d'Or
STEAM Camp inspires female innovators
ADEM funding for drinking water, sewer projects surpasses $1 billion

Latest Sports News

Ashville grad leaves mark in AHSAA record book
Gadsden State student-athletes make ACCC honor roll
New Gadsden State cross country coach excited for 2024 season
AHSAA names new executive director
Area players make ASWA All-State baseball