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Tim Mattingly didn’t just want any head coaching opportunity, but he waited for the right opportunity.
Mattingly’s patience paid off as he was named the Central Hardin football coach Tuesday, replacing Mark Perry. Mattingly has been the Meade County defensive coordinator for the last 10 years and helped the Green Wave to the Class 6-A state championship this past season.
“When I got out of being a head coach, I needed a break,” Mattingly said Tuesday evening. “I needed to probably learn a little and I picked a good place to go in Meade County. There have been openings and possibilities, but I wanted to make sure it was the right place for me.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” he added. “I’ve had other opportunities, but this was the right opportunity at the right time. Central Hardin is a great school in a great community. It was too good to pass up.”
Central Hardin athletic director Chris Bauer said interest in the job was tremendous. The selection committee of Central Hardin principal Tim Isaacs, Bauer and a booster representative narrowed the field before interviewing two candidates.
“Finding football coaches isn’t hard,” Bauer said. “Finding good football coaches is hard. Finding a good football coach who is a great fit for your young men, school and community is really hard, but I believe we’ve found a good one in Coach Mattingly.”
Mattingly takes over for Perry, who resigned in January to take the Lexington Catholic job. The Bruins are coming off a historic 11-2 season. They reached the 6-A quarterfinals before falling to Meade County. It was their deepest playoff run since 1997 and they won a road playoff game for the first time since the same season.
Mattingly inherits a wealth of talent. The Bruins should return six starters on offense – including their top seven scorers – and seven starters on defense. Among the returnees are first-team All-Area selections in junior quarterback Koree Krupinski, junior wideout Zach Helton and sophomore running back Xavier Arnette.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity, and hopefully we can take the Central Hardin program to new heights,” Mattingly said. “Part of me wondered if I’d be a head coach again. I thought that window was closing ever so slowly. But this is a great opportunity.”
The Green Wave had one of the state’s top defenses, limiting opponents to 10.6 points and 163.9 yards per game. In the title game, they limited the state’s top offense in 6-A to 289 yards in a 21-14 loss to Scott County.
Ironically, it was Mattingly’s work against the Bruins that helped him land the job. Mattingly’s defense shut down Central Hardin’s high-octane offense, allowing only two touchdowns in two lopsided wins.
“If there’s a better defensive coordinator or better defensive coach in the state, I want to meet them,” Bauer said. “Coach Mattingly is one of the best defensive minds in the state.
“There’s a saying if they can’t score, they can’t win,” he added. “You don’t score against his defenses. Look what he’s done to us over the years whoever was coaching. It was extremely hard for us to move the ball and get first downs, let alone score. People like the video-game football with offense, but what he did and the way they play football, it made me smile.”
Mattingly, a 1986 Washington County graduate, spent 14 years at his alma mater, including the last three as a head coach. He compiled a 13-19 record. He said former Washington County coaches Jimmy Reed and Lee Glasscock were a major influence on him.
Bauer said Mattingly having head coaching experience was a minor factor.
“It didn’t hurt him, but I don’t think it was a dealmaker,” Bauer said. “What I like is he knows how to manage a large program. He knows how to deal with the public. He knows how to deal with children in the way they need to be dealt with. And he knows how to deal with parents.”
Mattingly said he’d like to assemble a coaching staff as quick as possible, but he doesn’t want to rush into it. He plans to talk to current Central Hardin assistants and hopes to have the staff complete by spring practice, which is in the middle of April.
Being a defensive-minded coach, Mattingly said he’ll run the defense. He plans to implement the 4-4 scheme which worked so well at Meade County, but said he might tweak it for the personnel.
Although the Bruins have run the spread under their last two coaches, Mattingly said he doesn’t know yet what the Bruins will do yet.
“I have a general style of offense,” Mattingly said. “Two things we’re going to do is we’re going to have great blocking and we’re going to run ball. Now is that out the Wing-T or the spread, I don’t know. That’s going to be developed over the next two or three months.”
While he’s excited about the new opportunity, Mattingly said it was a hard decision to leave a place he and his family have called home for so long. Mattingly and his wife, Kris, have been married 22 years and they have two children – Tyler, 21, and Elizabeth, 12.
“That’s the hardest thing to do,” Mattingly said. “I think it was quite a shock to some of the players when I told them today. The coaching staff was surprised, but very supportive. It was extremely hard because we had grown so close to the people there. But that’s what prepared me for this opportunity. This is the right fit for me and my family.”
Chuck Jones can be reached at 270-505-1759 or email@example.com.