1. Vestavia’s Buddy Anderson has announced that the 2020 season will be his last. “This is going to be my last year,” Anderson told AL.com. “I told my coaches and players today it will be the last go-around. God called me to be a high school coach on Jan. 12, 1968. I know exactly where I was and what was going on at the time. He called me to be a Christian coach. There were no bolts of lightning, no audible voice or anything like that, but He spoke to my heart, and I have been blessed for a long time. I have been praying for months and months for some clarity about how much longer to continue. I just think it is the right time. It can be a stressful profession.”
Anderson is first on the list of the state’s winningest football coaches with 342 victories. He started as an assistant coach at Vestavia in 1972 and was elevated to head coach in 1978.
2. Phillip Rivers of the Indianapolis Colts has announced that when he retires from the NFL he will come back to Alabama to be the head football coach at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Fairhope. Rivers just signed this off season with the Colts after 16 seasons as the quarterback of the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers. His father Steve is a long time high school football coach in Alabama.
“I had two childhood dreams,” Rivers said when introduced as the Cardinals coach. “One was to play in the NFL, and I’m now going into my 17th season. The other was to be a high school football coach as my dad was. How blessed am I to be able to live both of those out!”
3. Bill Smith leaves Fayette County after one season to take the helm at Huffman High School. Smith started his head coaching career at Crossville before taking the rebuilding job of the Shades Valley program in 2011. He turned the Mounties around, going 26-19 and taking them to the playoffs 3 times. He then spent four successful years at Munford, winning 28 games and a region title before taking the Fayette County position.
4. Nathan McDaniel has taken the head coaching job at Elberta High School. Elberta will be playing their first year of varsity competition in 5A. “This is the first senior class in Elberta High history, so these cats have been playing together for three full seasons going on four,” he said. “They’ve played a lot of football. I think these kids are ready to make the jump and be even more competitive.”
McDaniel spent the last six years as head coach at Baldwin County, returning the Tigers to respectability.
5. Chris Littleton has left Ashford High School to become the new coach at Florala. Littleton spent two season at Ashford, taking the job after three seasons at Samson. “I’m excited about being here. It’s a great group of seniors,” Littleton said. “We’re leaving a good situation here for somebody,” Littleton said about the Ashford football program. “We had a down year this past season, but we had a lot of good young talent at Ashford. It was definitely difficult to leave.”
6. Longtime Wiregrass coach Chip Harris has taken over the Houston County program once again. Harris most recently has been the offensive coordinator at Geneva. He directed Houston County’s football program to 12 and 11 wins in 2000 and 2001 — the only double-digit win in the 91 years of the sport at the school. “Obviously, that is a special place to me and my family,” Harris said. “It was real good to us. The people were good. It is a neat place.”
In addition to Houston County, Harris has been head coach at Marbury, Northview, Ashford and Chipley, Fl. During his first tenure at Houston County, the Lions went from 2-9 and 2-8 his first two years to 8-4, 11-1 and 12-1 his last three seasons.
7. Dustin Harrison is the new football coach at Cottonwood High School. Harrison spent 3 seasons as head coach at Northside Methodist Academy before taking on assistant coaching jobs as OC at Houston Academy and then DC at Dale County the last two years.
“It’s just a super rich tradition,” Harrison said of Cottonwood. “There have been very few schools in our area that have any type of tradition close to Cottonwood’s. The Bears have been 13-28 the past four years under John Gilmore, who left to take a coordinator’s position at Smith’s Station.