Clabo: No decision made on PFHS coach

Resumes, calls coming in fast for PFHS job
Dec. 13, 2012 @ 12:01 AM

Pigeon Forge High School administrators won’t waste any time in naming a new head football coach, it appears.

The schools placed an ad on the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association’s website Wednesday, announcing their search for a new coach.
The lising was simple, stating the position was open to certifications and would be open until Dec. 19, or until filled.
But, contrary to rumors floating around the community, the replacement for recently-resigned coach Lee Hammonds hasn’t already been tabbed.
“All I’m doing at this point is getting a lot of resumes and phone calls,” Pigeon Forge High principal Ben Clabo said Wednesday. “No decision has been made, and there’s no timetable on making a decision right now.”
Clabo said a lot of interest is being shown in the position, and the process is only just beginning.
“We’ll start the process of looking for the next coach of Pigeon Forge Tiger football team immediately,” he said Monday after learning that Hammonds had resigned. “We’ll consider all interested candidates, and we’ll be looking at trying to make a decision here in the coming weeks.”
Clabo said he wasn’t expecting Hammonds’ resignation when it happened.
“He contacted me (Sunday) and said that he wanted to meet with me, but I was still thinking it could be about anything,” Clabo said. “I did know he was going to come in and talk to me.
“He came in first thing (Monday) morning and informed me that it was his wish that he wanted to resign as head coach of the football team.
“He just thought it was the right move for him at this point in his life and with his family,” Clabo continued. “Being a head coach is a busy, tough job. Especially if you’ve got young kids. He felt like he had taken the program and built a good foundation, and that it was now time to let someone else kind of run with it for a while.”
In the program’s 12-year varsity history, there have been four head coaches.
Kirk Cross coached the Tigers in 2001 and 2002, going 8-13.
David Ryan was the team’s second coach and went 12-21 from 2003 to 2005. He coached the team to .500 regular seasons in 2004 and 2005, only to lose first-round playoff games against Fulton and Austin-East.
Mike Bramblett took over the team in 2006 and stayed just one year, losing all 10 games.
Hammonds slowly built the team into a playoff contender, peaking in 2011 with a 7-3 regular season — the Tigers’ first-ever winning season. The Tigers lost in the first-round of the playoffs, however, to a visiting Chuckey-Doak squad.
This past season the Tigers entered play with their largest senior class ever, but injuries to several key players hurt the squad’s competitiveness in District 3-AA. While the team finished 4-6 overall, they were just 1-5 in conference play, and a final week loss to Gatlinburg-Pittman kept the team out of the playoffs.
“We felt real optimistic going into the season until some of those (injuries) happened,” Hammonds said on Monday. “But it’s a life-lesson. You can’t dwell on that. You just have to deal with (the injuries) and go on.
“When we took over in 2007 the program had been 0-10 (the year before).
You just have to get the kids to believe that they can compete and perform at a high level to try to win football games. That was a task and it didn’t happen overnight. That was probably a two, three or four-year process.”