Despite the exit of coach Randy Grace, who was successful in leading the Pacelli football team to an impressive four-year turnaround during his tenure, it doesn’t appear much will change in the the Vikings’ immediate future.
Alan Griffin, who has served as an assistant coach for the Vikings for the past eight seasons, was named Pacelli’s new head coach on Thursday, and laughed when asked how the program would shift under his guidance.
“What changes for me is that I’m the guy you’re talking to now,” he said. “It’s my name in the paper, it’s my personality leading the program.”
Outside of that, he intends to have more of the same, including the upward trajectory of the program. The offense, which he called plays for, won’t change. The rest of the staff is intact, so the defense won’t shift directions either. The team returns a large group of players, who know and have played in the system, so that won’t change either.
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“It’s just a different name as the head coach,” Griffin said. “For me, what changes is the pressure. Coach Grace took that pressure and that lead role and I was able to sit in the background and call the game I wanted to call. Now it’s just my name out front.”
It is Griffin’s first head coaching job in football. He also serves as the head boys basketball coach and athletic director, both of which he will continue to serve in going forward. He came to Pacelli out of Carson-Newman, where he graduated in 2007. He was a punter on the football team for four years. He came to Pacelli in 2007 and became the offensive coordinator in 2009.
Despite the continuity between the two coaches, the biggest challenge for Griffin will be maintaining the progress that began under Grace, who resigned in favor of a position at Wheeler County last month.
After an 0-10 season in 2010, Grace took over to lead Pacelli to records of 1-9, 4-6, 7-4 and 7-4. This past season, the Vikings reached the No. 1 spot in the Class A-private power rankings after a 4-0 start, completing a worst-to-first-turnaround.
Griffin praised the job Grace did, and said he’s learned a lot from the former coach.
“He simplified the game so much for the kids,” Griffin said. “He taught them to be fast and physical. That’s what I want to keep consistent. He taught me a lot about the weight room. That was the first thing he did was come in and revamp that.”
He added that the program he is inheriting is in great shape and he expects success going forward.
Grace said when he resigned the position that he expected Griffin to get the position, praising his former assistant’s credentials.
“I can just tell you, these kids are in great hands,” he said. “(Griffin) has done a great job and he’s going to be the guy.”
Griffin acknowledged the full plate he has in front of him, with football, basketball and athletic director duties, but noted he has an understanding wife.
“She teaches here at Pacelli, and my little girl goes here,” he said. “Our home is at 2020 Kay Circle.”