CATEGORY: FOL High School Football

AUTHOR: PHELPS

HILL SETTLING INTO NEW SURROUNDINGS IN TUPELO OFFICE

By GENE PHELPS

Daily Journal

On the second day in his new office, Tupelo High School's first-year athletic director and head football coach Johnny Hill thought it would be a good idea to move his desk.

It turned out to be a bad idea.

A cleaning crew had been in Hill's office Monday and had moved his desk. When Hill attempted to move the desk back to its proper spot one of the legs came loose, causing the desk to tilt forward and dump its top's contents onto the floor.

"Booty didn't tell me about this (laugh)," Hill said, referring to former Tupelo AD and head coach James "Booty" Sloan.

With the exception of his desk troubles, Hill's transition from Oxford to Tupelo has been a smooth but busy one. He is in the process of hiring two assistant coaches, meeting with his staff, getting to know his players, getting the practice and playing fields in shape and preparing to open THS's athletic facilities to members of the Croatian Olympic team next week for training.

To top it off, Hill has been selected to the North coaching staff for the July 19 Mississippi High School All-Star Game in Jackson.

"It's going to be hectic," said the 42-year-old coach.

Hill's first order of business is to complete his coaching staff. He needs a defensive coordinator to replace longtime assistant Bob Monroe, and another assistant to replace Lamar Aldridge, who served as linebacker and strength coach. Monroe is getting out of coaching while Aldridge has joined the Pontotoc High staff.

"We will miss both of them; both are great people," Hill said. "I've talked to several people about both jobs. I hope to know something soon."

Five members of Sloan's staff remain: Jamie Mitchell, Larry Harmon, Roger White, Danny Porter and Fred Hadley.

Hill says the Golden Wave's summer weight lifting program has been received well by the players.

"We've gotten a good response," he said. "We average about 45 to 50 players a day. We lift on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays."

Hill has also been discussing personnel with his assistants.

"We've talked positions with the coaches," he said. "We are meeting to see if we need to make any changes. We'll work a lot of that out as we go along. The coaches were out there in the spring. They know who they want."

The Golden Wave opens practice Aug. 5 and kicks off the season Aug. 30 at home, hosting rival Shannon. The game against the Red Raiders highlights a six-game home schedule which features matchups against Louisville, Meridian, Columbus, South Panola and Clarksdale.

Hill expects nothing less than a war in the opener against Shannon.

"It's going to be David verses Goliath, 3A verses 5A," he said. "They've got more than (all-state quarterback) Romaro Miller. They've got some folks who can play. They've got a chance to win it all in 3A."

And the remainder of Tupelo's schedule is no breather.

"Louisville is always tough," he said. "I played Meridian and West Point when I was an assistant at Warren Central. Columbus is turning its program around. Starkville's Starkville. They're good in 4A or 5A. South Panola's got speed. Grenada's good. There's not a weak one up there."

As for the broken desk, Hill has one in Oxford that his mother gave him. He'll be sending for it very soon.

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