G.W. Long has turned to a veteran assistant coach with plenty of championship coaching game experience as its new head football coach.
The Dale County School Board approved the recommendation Tuesday night to hire current Brantley offensive coordinator David Watts as the Rebels new head football coach. He replaces Scott Horne, who retired last month.
Watts has coached the last 21 years with stops at Highland Home, Straughn, Luverne, McKenzie, Georgiana and Brantley. A native of Luverne who played early in his career under legendary AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame coach Glen Daniel, he was a quarterback/defensive back for a state runner-up team under Butch Norman his senior year in 1994-95.
He has been part of Brantley’s football program the last eight years, including four years as offensive coordinator and one as defensive coordinator.
In addition to his football duties at Brantley, he has also been an assistant coach for the No. 1 ranked Bulldog softball team as hitting and infield coach. He has been part of four state title teams and two runner-up teams with the softball program.
“I am excited,” Watts said. “We have been at Brantley for the last eight years and we have been blessed with a good school and athletic department. Football has been successful and softball has been very successful so to leave was a big step for me, but G.W. Long was definitely a place that stood out as a place that I would want to get to. I am very excited to get over there and get started.”
G.W. Long principal Daniel Barrentine said Watts stood out during the interview process.
“Throughout the interview process, it was clear that coach Watts possessed a high level of football experience and knowledge and is a genuine person who will truly invest in our players, students, staff, and the school,” Barrentine said. “This is a big day for our school and we are excited to welcome coach Watts and his family to our G.W. Long Rebel family.”
Watts, who was also hired to conduct strength and conditioning classes at G.W. Long, has served as offensive coordinator at Brantley since 2018, including on last year’s Class 1A state semifinal team that scored the second most points in school history (622 in 14 games). He was the defensive coordinator in 2017 after a year as an offensive coordinator in 2016.
While at Brantley, he was named the 2019 Alabama Football Coaches Association Class 1A Assistant Football Coach of the Year.
Watts also has previous head football coaching experience, guiding Georgiana from halfway through the 2010 season through 2012.
He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Highland Home in 2000. He was with the Flying Squadron for five seasons, three as an offensive coordinator before one year as offensive coordinator at Straughn under veteran coach Trent Taylor.
At both Highland Home and Straughn, he was also the head baseball coach.
He spent two years as an assistant football coach at his alma mater of Luverne before five years in the Butler County School System at McKenzie (one year) and Georgiana (four seasons) before moving to Brantley.
“I am kind of little bit of a mixture between old school and new,” Watts said of his football coaching philosophy. “I believe in tough and being hard-nosed and that is another thing that attracted me to G.W. Long. We have had an opportunity to play those guys in baseball and softball through the years and I watched how those kids compete in both.”
As far as football schemes, Watts said it was too soon to tell what he would run.
“We will try to tailor what we do to the players that we have got,” Watts said. “That is the big first step – to get down there to learn the kids and see what they are capable of. We will not be married to any set of things offensively or defensively. We will try to do what works best for our kids.”
Barrentine said there are tentative plans for Watts to meet G.W. Long football players on Friday though that could change if the coach still has softball duties in Gulf Shores.
A formal meet and greet for the community is scheduled for some time after the end of school.