Heading back closer to home, while becoming an assistant coach at a Region 1-6A rival of his former Hardin Valley Academy Hawks, Wes Jones cited “family” as the biggest reason for resigning late last week as Hawks varsity football head coach.
Starting the program from scratch when HVA opened in August 2008, Jones, 44, is the only varsity head coach the program has ever known.
His 10-year varsity record, including playoff appearances in seven seasons, is 56-54 — highlighted by winning two playoff games and reaching the TSSAA Class 6A playoff quarterfinals in 2016.
Moving to Johnson City, “It’s the right time for me to take a step back. Being able to relocate allowed me to take a step back into an assistant’s role,” said Jones, who will serve as an assistant coach at Science Hill High School under head coach Stacy Carter.
While moving back to the area of his high school and college football success — a star linebacker and tight end at Greenville High School (1988-91) before earning All-Southern Conference honors as a center/team captain at East Tennessee State University (1992-96) — Jones put the move in its most important perspective.
“It frees up a little more time to spend with my family and being able to watch my kids’ (ballgames),” he said about more time with wife, Sarah Jones, and their five children. “It’s been tough getting to all their ballgames, and there’s a very short window of opportunity to watch your kids play youth sports and be part of their lives.
“I made the decision this is what’s best for our family,” Jones added. “It helps me be a better husband and father — and then, coach. Plus, the move to Johnson City puts us really close to our family, which we haven’t been in some time.”
He also will teach driver’s education at SHHS, as he has done at HVA for all 11 school years.
Jones said he informed HVA principal Sallee Reynolds and athletic director George Ashe of his decision Thursday afternoon, May 2, before meeting with his players.
“We couldn’t have started with a better person,” Ashe said. “Wes Jones believed in this community, believed in the vision Ms. Reynolds had for the school, and for the time he’s been with us, he’s towed the line as far as building a program all of us could be proud of.”
Hawks assistant coach Paul Maynard, former Bearden head coach (2002-05), is interim head coach in charge of HVA’s current spring practice drills, Ashe said.
The AD added he hopes to have a new head coach in place “by the middle of June.”
“What I treasure the most is our relationships with our players … and I’m grateful to Ms. Reynolds and George Ashe ... giving me the opportunity and trusting me to build a football program,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, Jones still is coaching at HVA — in his longtime role as field events coach for the highly successful Hawks and Lady Hawks track and field teams through the end of their seasons in late May.