Smiths Station officials didn’t have to look far to find the man they wanted to replace former baseball coach Clinton Britton.
Principal Jason Yohn and athletic director Mark Rose tabbed former assistant coach Mike Ferry as their next head coach, a move that was officially approved by the Lee County school board on Tuesday at its July meeting.
“All the guys we interviewed during the process, we felt like (Ferry) was the best fit,” Yohn said after the meeting. “We didn’t have to look very far. He was right under our noses.”
Ferry, who has been an assistant with the team for the past seven years while serving as a physical education teacher at South Smiths Station Elementary, doesn’t come in lacking head coaching experience. He coached at Sparkman High, a 6A school, prior to joining Smiths Station. He’s also served as Smiths Station’s interim coach since Britton retired in June.
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“He’s paid his dues here and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do with our baseball program,” Yohn said. “He’s done nothing but show us the strong work ethic that we expected to see from him.”
Yohn said that the familiarity with the team helped Ferry’s case, but that wasn’t the reason the team turned to him. He stressed Ferry’s work ethic, treatment of the players, respect and passion.
“I want someone who is 100 percent baseball on the brain,” Yohn said.
Ultimately, Yohn would like to see the team earn some hardware, as well. Smiths Station, which has never won a state championship, was upset by Auburn in the second round of the Class 6A tournament despite a school-record 39 wins and No. 2 state ranking this past season. It lost in the first round in 2012 and failed to make the playoffs in 2011.
“We want to win and we want to win championships,” Yohn said. “We don’t want to win a lot of games and get put out in the playoffs. We want to win it all. Every good coach wants to win championships.”
Yohn transferred his employment from South Smiths Station Elementary to Smiths Station and will serve as the school’s driver’s education teacher.
The Smiths Station job opened up after Britton, who had held the position for 21 years, stepped down in June. Britton was 496-218 as head coach and led the Panthers to eight area championships, 15 state playoff appearances and 17 20-plus win seasons.
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.