Chad Martin knows full well about the notorious 51-game losing streak of Barbour County’s football team.
But he also sees something else with the Jaguar program.
“Everybody there talks about the losing streak and all of that, but you go there and see everything and you see some of the athletes, you see what the potential is there,” Martin said Tuesday night in a Dothan Eagle interview several hours after being hired as the Jaguars head football coach.
“I really think it has way more potential than what a lot of people really see in it. Those kids just need someone to show them some love. I think they can do a lot more. I am real excited to take over. It is a real unique opportunity.”
The Barbour County Board of Education approved Martin as the new coach Tuesday at a special called meeting, Superintendent Dr. Matthew Alexander Jr., confirmed to the Dothan Eagle. Martin has 14 years of coaching experience, all as an assistant coach. He was most recently a defensive back coach at Glenwood School in Smiths Station, the only year he was at the school.
He has also coached (in order) at Chattahoochee County and Miller County in Georgia, at Smiths Station in Alabama and back in Georgia at Carver of Columbus and Manchester before serving last year at Glenwood. Martin was a defensive coordinator at most of those stops.
In addition to his football duties, Martin will teach 11th and 12th grade history at the high school in Clayton.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the board hired Darius Muse as interim girls basketball coach for the high school and as a physical education teacher at Barbour County Primary School.
Both Martin and Muse replace Rodney Lewis, who held both the Jaguars’ head football and girls basketball jobs this past year. Lewis resigned early this month to become a JROTC instructor, a girls varsity basketball assistant coach and a junior varsity girls basketball coach at Eufaula High School.
Martin takes over a Jaguar program that is in the midst of a 51-game losing streak dating back to October of 2013. Last year’s team, which went 0-9, was shut out in seven of nine games and scored only 27 points all year – 20 coming in one game.
The new coach, though, said the players have to forget about the past.
“The main thing is getting the athletes to look forward,” Martin said. “As the saying goes, ‘Eyes forward.’ It is not looking back, but looking to what is new.”
Martin will have to get rolling quickly as preseason practices in the state of Alabama for AHSAA teams start on Monday. Barbour County’s regular season opener is Aug. 30 – less than a month away – when the Jaguars host Central of Hayneville. The Jags also have a jamboree set the week before on Aug. 23 against Notasulga.
“It is keeping things simple, going over your basic fundamentals then building off that throughout the season,” Martin said of his approach. “When you only have three-four weeks, you can’t try to put in everything at once. You have to build on it.”
A native of the northeast Georgia town of Plainville, not far from the South Carolina and Tennessee borders, Martin played high school ball at Gordon Central High School and later in college at Shorter University in Rome, Ga. He was an outside linebacker at Shorter.
He obtained his education degree at Shorter and later earned a master’s degree in classroom technology.
In addition to football, he has also been a head track coach at the high school level.
Martin, in a bio he supplied to Alexander, stated that he was excited “to mold young minds in the classroom” and to “turn the football program around.”
The bio also said Martin “looks at the classroom and the field the same way – that it goes beyond getting an A on a test or winning a football game. It’s about taking these young men and women and making them better adults that will go out in the world and do big things and then pass that on to the next generation.”
To that point, Martin, in his interview with the Dothan Eagle, said he sees potential not only on the football field for the Jaguars, but also in the lives of the players.
“I think this is a real good chance to go somewhere and make a difference,” Martin said. “I have had a couple of shots of being a head coach before and turned it down. Just something felt different about this job. I feel like a real difference can be made here.
“I feel the community needs and wants to have something to get behind. I like being at places where I can make a difference. I really feel this is a place where that can happen, that I can make a difference in a lot of lives by being there.”