EUFAULA— Josh McConnell understands that the head football coach at Lakeside has become so turnover-prone that perhaps a revolving door should be installed entering and exiting that office.
Nevertheless, calling it a "dream job," McConnell, a Phenix City native with just one job in his 13-year professional career, plans to establish roots in Eufaula after being named the school's 13th head coach since 1996, legendary John Shoemaker's final season. In fact, McConnell will be the sixth head coach of the Chiefs in as many seasons.
"The first thing that pops up to me is I'm an AISA (Alabama Independent School Association) guy and they are rich in tradition (at Lakeside)," McConnell said Thursday morning prior to meeting with players and parents at Lakeside later that day. "There is a lot of pride in the school. Eufaula is a quaint town, but it's very inviting. Every encounter I've had with the school is that it conducts itself in the right way. I hope to bring a sense of stability. It's a new day and hopefully it'll be something Lakeside can take pride in."
McConnell comes to Lakeside from Phenix City's Glenwood School, his alma mater and where he has been an assistant for the Gators since 2006. He has been an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in football and baseball and was the school's head basketball coach for two seasons. He attended Fort Benning, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Marshall University while playing baseball for the Thundering Herd in Huntingdon, West Virginia, and received a Master's of Science in Sports and Fitness management from Troy University.
"Glenwood is the only place I've worked," McConnell said. "I've been very blessed by people who have got me to this point. This is a dream job for me. It's not a stepping stone. When this opportunity was given, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
McConnell and his wife, Jamie, have a son, Carson, 9.
"I want people to want to be at Lakeside on Friday nights," McConnell said.
Longtime Eufaula coach Dan Klages returned to town after a three-year stint assisting in Georgia to lead Lakeside last season, but he resigned recently after one season.
McConnell's football philosophy is having a bend-but-don't-break defense, making opponents sustain lengthy drives without turning the football over if they plan on scoring against the Chiefs. "We want them to have to go 15 or 20 plays, and consistency in high school football is hard to find," McConnell said.
Offensively, McConnell plans for Lakeside to be a run-first team, but he added, "If we have someone who can spin it, we'll throw it around too. I do like to play up-tempo, but our personnel will dictate that."
The new Lakeside coach said he is familiar with Chiefs' Athletic Director Tom Clements and Headmaster Dr. John Mehaffey. "We all want the same thing," McConnell said. "That's a huge draw for me. That played a big part in my decision. We have the same vision."
The Chiefs have played for the state championship in two of the last four seasons in basketball, reaching the semifinals this year. Earlier this month, Lakeside won the state baseball title.
McConnell plans on starting at Lakeside as early as June 1.