Hardin Valley Wasn't Built In A Day

Wes Jones, the first head football coach of the new Hardin Valley Academy, talks about the challenges and exciting times of starting this new East Tennessee program. Jones spoke of program, his goals, the challenges the program faces, and building a program from scratch.

Wes Jones, who started coaching in 1997, has had coached at Shelbyville Central High School, Cocke County High School, and most recently Austin East Magnet School. Coach Jones said of the chance to start this new program, "It's extremely exciting to have the opportunity from the ground up and basically try to get what you put into it back out. That's the mind set that we're taking into this. We're going to start the way we want to start it and do the things that we wished we could have always done."

He spoke of the challenges faced by the new program, "Some of the biggest challenges we are going to run into are one; the school is currently in construction process. We are at the discretion of somebody else to when they get finished. Secondly we didn't have our kids in the building this year to be able to talk to them, so basically we have been communicating workouts and football meetings through emails and telephones."

Even with challenges Jones commented on the positives, "The positive is that you are the first. You are going to be the first and it's a great motivating tool when you sit down with a bunch of fourteen and fifteen year old kids."

He explained his approach to selling the program would be by saying, "Listen you're going to be the first group we have at Hardin Valley. You can mold and put your name on it. You can always look back and say I was a first."

Every coach has their own philosophy on how to coach the game, Jones was no different. He said, "I have a lot of philosophies. I want to establish a program that I would feel comfortable putting my kids in. My philosophy is to treat kids well, earn their respect, and treat kids fair. I want to treat kids well and help them become better young men through football."

He added, "I understand wins and losses are what everyone looks at, but my philosophy is that wins and losses will come if we are doing the right things with our kids. We are going to go in their and establish a program to help our kids become better young men and if they are doing that they are going to be successful on the field as well."

As far as what the fans can expect to see on the field Jones said, "Right now we will be based out of an I formation and be very multiple in what we do, with a lot of formations, and motion folks around to try and put the football in our best athletes hands."

He commented about the defense, "Defensively, we are going to base out of a 4-3, and we are going to be multiple and we're going to run to the football. We are not going to sit back, read, and react. We're going to be on our toes and we're going to go get some people on defense."

In his ten seasons of coaching Jones recalled his best memories, "It's hard just to pick one. I would have to think that one of the best moments I have ever had coaching is when I was at Cocke County High School and we played Morristown West, when they were ranked number one in the state and the year they went to the state, and we beat those guys. It was real exiting, a big win for us."

He also explained, "Another one of those moments would be from this season at Austin East when we beat Catholic in the second round of the playoffs."

One of the biggest challenges of having a good program is building a good staff. Jones explained, "We have not got a full staff together yet. Knox County has not allowed us to advertise the positions yet. We haven't been able to go through the full channels. That will happen in the next couple of weeks."

Even though there are not a set amount of coaches yet there seem to be a good number of potential players. Jones reported, "Right now we have around 100 kids signed up to play football this fall. Now we won't physically get to see all of those kids until June 2nd and we get together for our first summer workouts."

As for the expectations of this season Jones said, "I want to be optimistic, but I understand I have to be realistic. It would be a wonderful achievement for us to put together a football team, be organized, and be disciplined. Just to get it all put together."

Jones explained of building tradition by saying, "Tradition comes a lot with the people there with you. I'm hoping we can establish a lot of those traditions this fall together. I think this year as we build and we all go through this process together we are going to come closer and find out what we are going to establish."

The Hardin Valley Hawks will begin the season playing a freshman and junior varsity only schedule. The freshmen will see their first action on August 25th against Oak Ridge's freshmen. The junior varsity will kick off their season against Jefferson County on August 25th as well.

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