Todd Loveday, Adrian Watson reunited with Northview Academy football team
When they were roommates and teammates at Carson-Newman, Todd Loveday and Adrian Watson took their football seriously.
Friends since the sixth grade, the pair kept a book chronicling their battles in the Madden NFL video game.
“Everybody who came over, they had to sign the win-loss column,” Watson said. “The winner, they got to say stuff. You know, those were heated. We bought a lot of controllers. There was a lot of breakage going on.”
Now, as both men near 40, they’re together again, coaching in the real world this time. Loveday lured his friend to his staff at Northview Academy this spring after a couple years of trying. Watson will coach running backs this fall for the Cougars, who are playing a junior varsity schedule in their second year of existence.
“We’ve always gone back and forth on, ‘It’d be cool to coach together,’” Loveday said. “We’ve always shared the same philosophy on how you ought to do things. You never know if it will ever work out. When I first got (the head coaching job at Northview), I worked on him a little bit. It’s all about timing and opportunities. It just kind of timed out right for us.”
Watson, who coached at Pigeon Forge and was an offensive assistant at Gatlinburg-Pittman last year, will also be Northview’s athletic director. The Cougars will go varsity in basketball this winter with football making that leap in 2015.
Watson already is settling in well with his new team. Offensive coordinator Matt Penland, another Carson-Newman alum who lived next door to Watson and Loveday in college, said the kids love the new coach.
“We’ve all grown up some since those college days but he’s still got that passion and energy he had for football back then,” Penland said. “Just the 15 years of experience, calling plays for a few years and running an offense like he did at G-P and all the ballgames they won, I mean, he knows what he’s doing and he’s good at it.”
Watson’s experience not only includes firing up the last new football program in the county at Pigeon Forge, but working under legendary coach Benny Hammonds at Gatlinburg-Pittman. It’s similar to the path Loveday took, returning to his alma mater at Sevier County to work for Steve Brewer, another giant of high school football in East Tennessee.
You can expect those influences to play a big role when Northview debuts under the lights on Friday nights next year.
“You know, coaching is stealing really,” Loveday said. “You’ve got to be yourself. I can’t be anyone else and neither can Adrian. But you do learn the great things that make the programs great. We just spend time talking about, ‘What did coach Hammonds do in this situation?’ He’ll say the same thing, ‘What’d coach Brewer do?’ We just rattle it off. Sometimes new ideas come out of that.
“There’s more than one way to do it. Those two guys, completely different philosophies, but they both won.”
That’s what Loveday and Watson hope to do at Northview, too. For the first time since their college days, they’ll be working together. It’s something they’ve talked about for years in regular phone calls and family gatherings. It’s a reality now after a spring when Watson was jumping between G-P and Northview, changing his shirt like Superman in the parking lot before practice.
“In 15 years, we’ve not seen each other every day,” Watson said. “I don’t know that it’s set in quite yet but it’s been fun so far. It really has.”