Both Rusty Brewer and Johnny Hayes have stepped down from their basketball head coaching duties, but will remain on staff as wellness and physical education teachers. Brewer will also continue as an assistant football coach, while Hayes will more than likely join the gridiron staff of Coach Derrick Davis as well.
“These are two classy guys,” declared German. “I was shocked, but I understand where they are coming from. There are no hard feelings. I support them in their decisions and we are glad to have them staying at our faculty.”
“Rusty has been working with our football team for the last several years and I’m about 90 percent sure, Johnny will start doing that as well,” he added.
“I’m hoping that works out. I’m looking forward to working with a great coach like Coach (Derrick) Davis. I can learn a lot about coaching from him,” Coach Hayes stated.
Both Brewer and Hayes have the distinction of having taking over basketball programs, directly and indirectly, from Polk County coaching legend Ron Davis, who came out of retirement to coach at Sequatchie County this past season.
A three-sport Wildcat standout in the mid 1990s, Brewer went on to play football for Carson-Newman and after a few coaching stops, returned to his alma mater to take over the boys’ basketball program in 2007 when Davis, who had been coaching both the boys and girls, gave up the Wildcat reins.
“When I took the job in 2007, my daughter was 2 (years old) and my son was 4 months. We’ve had two more since, so we have four children ranging from 9 to 2 years old. I want to be able to spend more time with them,” remarked Brewer, who acknowledged having to put in a 12-14 hour workdays during the basketball season.
“It’s a family decision. The kids are getting older and wanting to do more things, and I don’t want to miss out on that.
“It was a difficult decision. I told the team today (Thursday) that I feel like the program is heading in the right direction,” he added after the Wildcats made their fifth straight region tournament this past season.
Never one to shy away from tough competition, Brewer leaves with an overall 58-134 record, with his best finish coming in 2011-12 when his Wildcats went 14-16 and won the District 5-AA championship.
Hayes, a 2002 PCHS graduate, returned to the Benton school after going to college in Colorado. Serving as Brewer’s assistant with the basketball Wildcats since 2009, he also served as the head coach of the girls’ fast-pitch softball team for two seasons before being thrust into the head coaching job of the basketball Wildkittens.
After Davis retired in 2010, Hayes became an assistant coach for new head coach Ginger Harness, but ended up as the interim head coach when Harness took a maternity leave of absence for the entire season.
After leading the team, along with assistant coach Laura German, to a 19-10 season and a spot in the region semifinals, Hayes became the full-time head coach in 2011-12. He steps aside after four years with a 48-66 record and four straight region tournament berths.
“At first I was told it would just be to fill in for five games and then Ginger would be back. Then it turned into the whole season. After that they asked me to continue,” Coach Hayes related. “I felt like it was kind of early for me to be the head coach, but I was willing to help out with what they needed.
“As for stepping down from the boys, with Rusty stepping down, I thought it would give a new coach a clean start,” Coach Hayes commented. “As for the girls’ team, I began to express concerns with the administration back during the middle of the season and then again at the end of the season. I felt I needed to step down to allow the program to go in a different direction.”
“Johnny feels like he has done all he is capable of doing with the girls’ team,” Ron German stated. “He stepped in when we were in a tough situation and we really appreciate what he has done for us.
“Since we don’t know yet what teaching positions we’ll have available next school year, we’ll start our search within the system to see if there’s any interest there,” he added.
Brewer and Hayes will continue to work with the teams on offseason conditioning through the end fo the school year and have the 2014-15 schedule “about 95 percent complete,” Hayes related. “We haven’t set any summer camp schedules yet, because coaches usually have their own ones they want to take their teams to.”
German is also looking for a permanent head baseball coach. Former coach Michael Carter left for Franklin County High school just before school started last summer and retired Polk County coaches John Dixon and Frankie Lowery agreed to return to the diamond for this season to give German time to fill the position.