The next time the two schools meet, likely coming up this fall, Smith will be on the Easley sidelines, and folks will be calling him “Coach Smith.”
Easley High School athletic director Chris Carter introduced Smith, a 1997 Pickens High School graduate, as the Green Wave’s new head football coach at a press conference in the school’s cafeteria. Smith becomes the 15th person to hold the EHS football coach’s position.
Smith served as the school’s weight lifting teacher since joining the EHS faculty in July. The experience has made him familiar with the Green Wave athletes. He’s been impressed.
“You parents should be proud of raising such fine young men,” Smith said. “These young men are going to turn things around.”
Smith played center at Concord University from 1998-2001. He was named a Scholastic All-American in 2000 and 2001, and was the team captain in 2001.
At Concord he also earned accolades for his character, leadership and academic performance. He received the Deloris Montgomery Award for Outstanding Character and Leadership in 2001, as well as the Mountain Lion Award, given to the senior football player with the highest academic standing. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in social studies education.
He was an offensive line coach and strength coordinator at West Montgomery High School in Mt. Gilead, N.C., then assistant head coach at Rocky Mount (N.C.) High School
During this time he worked under North Carolina legend B.W. Holt, who has won more than 300 games in his career. Smith was Holt’s “right hand man” for six seasons.
Smith credited Holt for teaching him much about football, strength training and life in general.
“It would dishonest of me not to admit all the stuff I taught you guys in strength training was just his system,” Smith said.
At West Montgomery, the Warriors advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first tie in more than 15 years. The team also set a school record for rushing.
The Rocky Mount offensive unit set, re-set or tied more than 50 records at the tradition-rich school. During Smith’s time there, the team won three conference titles and earned a 43-10 overall record, going 7-4 in the playoffs.
Just prior to coming to Easley, Smith was the head football coach and strength coordinator at Northern Nash High School in Rocky Mount, N.C.
Smith remembered working summers when he was a teenager with his grandfather, who was a contractor.
“We helped build Griffin-Ebenezer Baptist Church,” Smith said.
He remembered starting the first day with just a pick-ax and a shovel.
“My grandfather told me I was going to build the foundation first,” Smith said.
Smith said he worked with the ax and shovel for several days, but eventually the foundation was built. Once the foundation was built, the structure could be strong.
Smith said building a winning program would be much the same, and the work he and his potential players would be doing in the coming months would build a foundation for future success.
Smith and his wife Hannah are the parents of three boys – Hunter, Ashton and Shepherd.
“Pray for my wife, because Lord knows a football coach’s wife is valuable, and I’ve got a good one.” Smith said.
Dr. Danny Merck, principal at Easley High School, opened the press conference by giving a pleasant update on the construction of the new high school.
“Our new school came in under budget, which is good,” Merck said.
Merck mentioned that with the new school will be a new football stadium.
“Tonight we’re hiring a football coach who will earn some wins on that new field,” he said.