Search begins for next Sevier County football coach
George Quarles started getting calls from colleagues when word of Steve Brewer’s resignation spread late Sunday.
People wanted to ask Quarles, winner of 10 state football titles at Maryville, what he thought of the coaching position at Sevier County.
“My thoughts are it would be a good job,” Quarles said. “There’s obviously support. They’ve got a new field, good players. I would think you have a chance to be successful.
“The hard part is following someone like coach Brewer.”
The search to replace Brewer, who led Sevier County to 50 wins the last five years, began Monday when the coach submitted his resignation to become associate pastor of discipleship at First Baptist Church in Sevierville. It’s a job expected to attract intense attention after Brewer, 57, built the Smoky Bears into a consistent winner, going 167-86 over the last 22 seasons.
“Some people want to toss the word legend around,” said Sevier County co-Athletic Director and assistant coach Bryan Atchley. “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.”
Atchley, one of Brewer’s early hires in 1992, said he’s still mulling whether to apply for the opening. Sevier County Director of Schools Dr. Jack Parton said principal Toby Ward would lead the interview process with Parton and school board member Becky Barnes providing input as well. That’s similar to the format in 1992 when a five-person committee was formed including school board members, the principal and athletic director. This time, both athletic directors — Atchley and Brewer’s son Jonathan, also an assistant coach — are potential applicants, although Jonathan Brewer declined comment on whether he would apply on Monday.
“It’s a challenge at any high school but of course this is the largest in Sevier County,” Parton said. “I’m sure we will have many applicants. ... We’ll take a strong look at who we think will best fit. We’ve got a strong foundation and we’ve had unbelievable success the last 15 to 20 years. Our expectations are high.”
Steve Brewer shares those expectations. He said even without him on the sideline he figures the Bears will continue their recent run of success in 2014.
“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.”
Atchley said Brewer has set the Smoky Bears up for success by building a strong staff. Several current and former staffers said Brewer let his coaches simply do their jobs and didn’t micro-manage, allowing them to develop. While Brewer said he expects whoever replaces him to make changes, he said the staff in place now is capable.
“He put a lot of stock into who he hired,” said former player and assistant Todd Loveday. “He just let you coach, which gave each coach a lot of confidence. Each coach became head coach of their position.”
Now the head coach at Northview Academy, Loveday said he is committed to continuing to build that program but he thinks Brewer’s success over the last 22 years will make the position attractive to applicants.
Whoever is on the sideline next fall, the challenge will be to continue racking up victories. Like his former coach, rising senior Connor Bailey said he believes that is very possible.
“You just can’t replace someone like that but we’re going to try our best,” Bailey said. “No matter what happens, we’re going to give a solid effort. We’re going to work hard all summer. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble. We’re just going to catch and run it.”