Steve Brewer steps down as Sevier County football coach
Steve Brewer believes things will still go well for Sevier County football team next fall, even without him on the sideline for the first time since 1992.
“This senior class is full of competitors,” Brewer said. “If you could pick a time to exit, this would be a good year to do it. There’s still a really good coaching staff in place. There’s a good chance things will go well next year.”
Brewer said Sunday he will resign as the Smoky Bears head coach this week to take a position as Minister of Discipleship at First Baptist Church in Sevierville. He will oversee education and teacher training at the church.
“As a Christian, I always want to do what the Lord’s leading me to do,” Brewer said. “This opportunity came up last fall. I prayed about it and felt this is the direction I should go.”
Brewer came to Sevier County in 1992, leading the Smoky Bears to at least a .500 regular-season record in 21 of his 22 seasons. That stretch includes a state championship in 1999 in class 5A, then Tennessee’s highest classification.
Brewer is 167-86 in Sevierville, winning more than 66 percent of the games he’s coached. The Bears were only his second head coaching stop after he led Fulton from 1981 to 1991. He said a big part of all those wins has always been his assistant coaches.
Bryan Atchley, a 1990 Sevier County graduate, is one of the first coaches Brewer brought on board as a volunteer in 1992. Now the Bears’ co-defensive coordinator and co-athletic director, Atchley said Brewer was never a micro-manager but let his coaches coach.
“Steve has done a wonderful job of setting our program in place that we’ll be fine,” Atchley said. “He’s set this program up for future success.”
Atchley said the job would open for applicants Monday morning and he hasn’t decided yet if he will apply. With the summer fast approaching, he said the hiring timeline would likely be less than a month. Those details were set to be fleshed out in discussions over the next couple of days that would include Sevier County principal Toby Ward.
Whoever takes over the team will face high expectations thanks to two decades of consistent success.
“Some people want to toss the word legend around,” Atchley said. “He would balk at that idea, but I can say this: He has left a legacy. No matter who gets this job or who comes about, they’ve got a legacy to follow.”
That legacy has been cemented since 2009. The Bears are 50-10 over the last five years, including five straight District 2-AAA championships and playoff appearances. That sustained run of success led examiner.com’s Donovan Stewart to rank the Bears third-best in class 6A over that period, behind only perennial power Maryville and 2012 state champion Whitehaven.
Luke Manning has been a big part of that success, quarterbacking the Bears to a 21-4 record. The Tusculum signee said he was “shocked” to learn Brewer was leaving the program, figuring he had another couple seasons left as head coach. He said it wasn’t just the tactical elements of football the former Austin Peay quarterback was so good at teaching.
“He taught our team how to control our anger, withhold it, take it out against the other team,” Manning said. “He taught us how to be men on the football field, not middle school kids. He taught us to hold that in and use it whenever we needed that extra drive in the fourth quarter.”
Brewer leaves Sevier County one of the most revered coaches in the school’s history, a remarkable accomplishment for a man who was a stranger in Sevierville 22 years ago.
“When I came up here as head coach, it was a move based on faith,” Brewer said. “I really didn't know anybody. I didn't know how it was going to work out. The Lord has taken care of us. It’s a wonderful community. I can’t begin to say how good they’ve been to me, my program and my family.”