Justin Ridge leaves Greenback to coach William Blount football

Jumps from 1A Greenback to 6A program

By Jesse Smithey knoxnews.com

Justin Ridge is taking quite the coaching leap.

Greenback head coach Justin Ridge at the KFOA Media Day at Three Ridges Golf Course on Friday, July 16, 2010.
The 32-year-old Ridge, who led the Greenback High School football team to a 30-15 record in his four seasons (2009-12), announced Thursday he has filled the coaching vacancy at William Blount.

That means Ridge, a 1998 William Blount graduate, goes from coaching in Class 1A football at Greenback to coaching in 6A and in the same district (4-AAA) as 13-time state champion Maryville.

"I didn't really realize the enormity of going from 1A to 6A until I got down into the facilities (at William Blount) and looked around and started looking at names and coaches and started seeing how much more there was to each aspect of the game just more numbers to deal with to go into it. That's probably the biggest change," said Ridge. "It's still football, just a different scale."

Ridge replaces David Gregory, who stepped down in November with a 13-27 record in four seasons.

Ridge will have a meet and greet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at William Blount.

He told the Greenback players of his decision Thursday morning.

"I think most of them kind of already knew," said Ridge. "It was harder for me than it was for them.

"I owe a lot to Greenback and am very grateful for the opportunity I got in coaching there. I'm very grateful for Loudon County for the opportunities I got in teaching. It was very difficult to come in and look those people in the eyes and tell them you're going somewhere else, because they have been so good to me."

Ridge won 27 games from 2010-12 and helped Greenback make three consecutive playoff appearances.

William Blount hasn't had a winning season or playoff appearance since its 9-3 run in 2007 under then-coach Scott Meadows.

Ridge knows William Blount can rebuild. He has seen it happen.

William Blount went 1-9 in each of his first three seasons (1994-96) as a player there. It went 6-5 his senior season and reached the playoffs for the second time in school history.

William Blount then went 60-52 the next 10 seasons and made eight more playoff appearances.

Ridge will start the process with forming the right coaching staff, retaining players from the 2012 roster and recruiting new ones from William Blount's hallways.

It's all for William Blount pride, he said.

"Everybody wants to identify their high school or college and identify it as a really good place, somewhere to be proud of. That's part of my motivation in coaching there," he said. "I really want the best for William Blount."