Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Former Grayson County Coach Ed Smart was named Head Football Coach at Edmonson County High School earlier today.
Smart, who was head of the Cougar football program from 2004 to 2019, had a 84-94 career record at Grayson County. He also served as head coach at McLean County from 1997 to 2004. During his coaching career he was also named District Coach of the Year four different times, has 100 total career victories, was a two-time MAC Coach of the Year, and was the winningest coach at Grayson County where he also had the most playoff wins and most winning seasons for the school's football program.
"I'm excited to be here because I played against Edmonson all those years," said Coach Smart. "I know the kids here always played hard and were well disciplined, which are things that I like. I like having more similar teams here because anyone with a good team has a chance to win the district it and that's appealing. They like football here. The administration has been great to me here so far, everyone here has been friendly and I'm excited to get started."
Coach Smart said his duties begin immediately after all the proper documentation is filed and he's going to get guys into the weight room as soon as possible.
ECHS Athletic Director Kyle Pierce, who coached against Smart for years, discussed the high school's decision for the new hire.
"We are excited to hire Coach Smart as our head football coach," he said. "He's a great coach and person and had a great run at Grayson County for 16 years. I was fortunate enough to coach against him for my 12 years here. I always knew it was going to be a battle because he always had his teams well prepared."
Smart's coaching career dates back to 1990, where over the years he also served as assistant football coach at Greenwood, Warren East, Hart County, and at Morehead State, where he served as a grad assistant.
"He just seemed to have most of what we were looking for in a head coach," Pierce said. "He's not only had head coaching experience, but he's had very successful experience at a rural-type school. He's coached our type of kids his whole career, which is important to us. He's experienced all the ups and down and knows how to handle both. His teams were always well conditioned, strong, disciplined, and they played hard. Plus, he's a great X-and-O type coach that knows how to teach his players."
Pierce said the school had 15-20 people interested in the coaching job, but Smart's name continued coming up in conversations.
"Sometimes in a situation like this, where a guy retires, then comes back to coaching, it's a big deal about the money. That's not been the case here. Not once did he ask about the money. He's asking us about when can he start and when can he work with the kids. That says a lot about him."
Coach Smart described a bit of what football fans will see from the next Wildcat football team.
"We're going to run the ball and we're going to play good defense," he said. "We're going to be physical and we're going to get after people. That's always been my philosophy. You can't control how fast we are or how tall we're going to be, but we can control how strong we're going to be and we're going to be very aggressive. I'm an old-school kind-of-guy where we want to physically beat our opponent."
He replaces Nathan Smith, who served 5 seasons as Edmonson's head coach, where he had an overall record of 24-29 and won the Class 2A District 3 Championship in 2019. He was also named KFCA District 3 Coach of the Year for the 2020 season.