Opp gets new coach

Published 12:03 am Saturday, February 1, 2014

Brent Hill is the Opp Bobcats’ new head football coach and athletic director. | Photo courtesy of Dale L. Anderson

Brent Hill is the Opp Bobcats’ new head football coach and athletic director. |
Photo courtesy of Dale L. Anderson

Brent Hill named head football coach, athletic director for Bobcats

Brent Hill is bringing his love and passion for Friday night lights to Opp.

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart announced Friday morning that an agreement had been reached for Hill to take over as head football coach and athletic director at OHS, ending a couple months of rumors of who the new leader of the Bobcats might be.

What put it over the top for Hill to come to Opp from Collierville, Tenn. — a suburb out of Memphis — was the prospect of working in a small-town atmosphere.

“I love the feel of the town,” Hill said. “I don’t know how to describe it. I felt like there was a good fit. Even with (OHS principal) Mr. (Ron) Snell and Mr. Smithart, I could tell they were very committed to football, too. If you want to do it (coach), then you want to do it in a place that’s committed to it.”

Hill, whose hire still has to be approved by the Opp Board of Education, comes to OHS from St. George’s Independent School in Germantown, Tenn., where he’s served as a coach since 2007. He was head coach there from 2011-12, and took a break from it this past school calendar year. In 2011, Hill helped guide the Gryphon to win the Division II-A State Championship, and finished runner up in 2012.

Prior to his stint at St. George’s, Hill started working as a volunteer coach in 1998 at Evangelical Christian School. He got his first teaching and coaching gig at Briarcrest Christian (Memphis) in 2001 and worked with current Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. The very next year, he returned to ECS as the offensive coordinator from 2002-06.

As the head coach at St. George’s, Hill compiled a 22-5 record.

During a recent trip to Opp, Hill said he looked at the job opening and immediately fell in love with the town.

“It intrigued me,” he said. “Then, my wife (Betsy), we went down and just spent the weekend there together because I didn’t want to make any decision without making sure she would be OK with it. I wanted her thoughts and sure as the world, she fell in love with the area, too.

“I felt like it is a very passionate area for their athletic programs, and I could tell that football is a huge deal to them,” he said.

On football, Hill said he’s known for having an “offensive mind.”

“I focus on both sides of the ball, but you could say yes, that I’m more known as an offensive mind,” he said. “The first thing you do is you think about your personnel, and you’ve got to fit your personnel on what kind of offense (you want to run).”

Hill hinted that he likes to run out of the spread, but it “could mean a million different things.”

However, there is one constant that will come with Hill — an up tempo pace.

“On both sides of the ball, and special teams too, I expect to play fast and play hard, and we will execute,” he said.

When asked what his coaching philosophy is, Hill said it’s all about “defining success.”

“The bottom line at the end of the day is that success is this; when you lay your head down on that pillow, you can say to yourself you gave everything you got — that you were better than you were today than yesterday,” Hill said. “That’s what we will strive for. At the every beginning, that’s where we’re headed.”

Hill added that football may be about “Xs and Os,” but it’s also about developing young men.

“That is a huge part in what I believe in,” he said. “God put us on earth not to be normal, but he also put us on earth to not only press ourselves to a higher lever, but to love each other.”

Like Hill, Smithart said he’s excited to have Hill become a part of the Bobcat family.

“He brings a record of success as both a head coach and an incredible passion for the game,” Smithart said. “We welcome Coach Hill and his family to Opp, and we look forward to working with him to continue to build a championship-caliber program at Opp High School.”

Hill replaces former OHS coach Jack Whigham.

In addition to his wife, Hill has a 9-year-old daughter, McKinley; and a 3-year-old son, Briggs.