Feeling it was hitting “the coaching jackpot,” Houston Academy headmaster Scott Phillipps confirmed the school has hired former T.R. Miller head coach Jamie Riggs, the third winningest high school football coach in Alabama state history and owner of four state titles, as its new head football coach.
“We are thrilled,” Phillipps said in a Dothan Eagle interview Sunday night. “We feel we have hit the coaching jackpot. He is an unbelievable man and I think he will help our school in more ways than just football.
“I think he will be an advocate for all of our kids and all of our programs. He has incredible character. He is a very ethical man and will be a good example for our students and teachers, frankly.”
The school plans to introduce Riggs as the new football coach Monday night in the school library at 6. He replaces veteran coach Jimmy Addison, who was released by the school following this past season after the Raiders went 0-9.
Efforts by the Dothan Eagle to reach Riggs Sunday night were unsuccessful.
A 2010 AHSAA Hall of Fame inductee, Riggs has a 305-81 record over 27 seasons, mostly at T.R. Miller (1989-2015, 293-62) in Brewton. He was also a head coach at Opp from 1986-88, going 12-19 with one state playoff team.
The 305 wins trails only current Vestavia Hills coach Buddy Anderson (329) and retired Fayette County coach Waldon Tucker (309) in career wins in state history, according to the Alabama High School Football Historical Society website.
Riggs’ 79 percent winning percentage ranks fourth all-time in the state of coaches who have won 200 or more games.
He won state titles at T.R. Miller, his alma mater, in 1991, 1994, 2000 and 2002 and four teams (1990, 1995, 1996, 1998) finished as a state runner-up. Six other teams reached the state semifinals.
All 24 of his Tiger teams reached the state playoffs and all but two won at least one postseason game. All but one of the 24 teams won at least eight games overall with two (1991 and 1994) going undefeated.
With 69 playoff wins, Riggs has the most wins of any coach in the state’s history.
During his tenure in Brewton, his teams set a state record by scoring in 354 consecutive games.
Riggs retired from Miller in February 2016, following a 10-3 state quarterfinal year, the last of four consecutive 10-win seasons he had at the program. He spent last year helping at Leeds High School.
“I don’t see how you can do any better anywhere,” Phillipps said. “To me, he is the best coach in the state right now that was available. I don’t see how you could have gotten any better than Jamie Riggs.”
Phillipps said the school received about 60 applicants for the open position, but the search ended with Riggs.
“We talked to a number of coaches and, frankly, once I talked to coach Riggs and our search committee talked to coach Riggs – we had students who met with him, too – and after we met him, it was pretty unanimous that he was the guy,” Phillipps said. “Once we interviewed and talked to him, we didn’t go any further. We knew he was the one.”
In addition to his duties as football coach, Riggs will also help in athletic administration with HA athletic director Mike Sickafoose and will have some classroom responsibilities that Phillipps said have not been determined.
Though his contract officially starts for next season, Phillipps indicated Riggs would be around to help with winter workouts and would likely conduct spring practice.
“He reached out to us and expressed an interest in the position,” Phillipps said. “I met him and we had lunch together. I was impressed with him as he is an unbelievable man. First of all, he is all about the kids, which is what you want in an educator. He loves kids and wants to see them succeed. He has decades of experience of turning young men into adults.
“He is a remarkable figure in Alabama and his record speaks for itself, but really that is secondary to how he wants to create teams and how he wants to build young men into adults.”
Riggs played high school football at T.R. Miller, which included a year of playing under Mack Wood, who later became a legendary head coach at Elba in the Wiregrass.
After graduating from Troy University, he was an assistant coach at both McGill-Toolen and Winston County before landing the head job at Opp.
In addition to coaching, Riggs helped formed the ALFCA coaches association and served as president for nine years. He also served on the AHSAA District 1 Board for 19 years and on the AHSAA Central Board of Control for four years.