SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — It’s a question that’s been on the minds of many Pirate faithful over the past month, “Who will be the new head football coach at South Pittsburg?”
Well, that answer was finally given today bringing an end to much debate over the matter in the Sequatchie Valley. Former Calhoun Yellow Jackets defensive coordinator, Ricky Ross, has been named the new head football coach for the local powerhouse team.
Ross, 38, will take over the position vacated by Vic Grider who stepped-down from the head coaching position on December 16th, 2012, after spending 16 seasons in the coach’s position at his alma mater. Grider led the Pirates to an average of 11 wins per season during his time as the Pirate’s head coach, as well as three Class 1A state championship wins in addition to two more trips to state where the team didn’t win.
Grider is currently serving as the school’s athletic director as well as interim principal. He along with a committee of five others selected Ross out of 140 other applicants who wanted the job. The committee trimmed that list to three finalists before selecting Ross.
In an interview with the Stephen Hargis of the Chattanooga Times Free Press (bit.ly/SPFB12213), Grider said they were all highly impressed by his first interview.
“Everything he said was exactly what we wanted to hear in terms of his plans for the future of the program. Once we finished all the interviews, it just became obvious that Ricky was our guy. If there’s a coaching lottery, we feel like we hit the jackpot with him.
“His football knowledge is off the charts, but most importantly he’s a top-notch person. His energy level will make the kids attach themselves to him and he’ll fit in right away in the community.”
Ross helped the Calhoun win eight straight region titles since being promoted to defensive coordinator. The Yellow Jackets reached Georgia’s Class AA state title game each of the past five seasons, including taking that title in 2011 with an upset of nationally-ranked Buford. During a 29-game winning streak over the 2011-2012 season, Calhoun’s defense allowed just five opponents to score more than 14 points.
With the announcement of Ross coming to South Pittsburg, he now makes only the fourth head coach for the Pirates football program over the past 50 years. Vic Grider’s father, the late Don Grider, won 192 games and a state title from 1969 to 1992. Danny Wilson took over the program from 1993 to 1996, winning a state title with Vic Grider as his defensive coordinator.
In addition to 68 playoff wins, the Pirates have won 5 state championships and appeared in 11 title games, making them have the highest number of title wins and appearances than any other program in the area. After winning the state title in 1969, South Pittsburg is also the only school in the state to have played for a championship in all six decades since the TSSAA began its’ playoff format.
Prior to his time at Calhoun, Ross played linebacker at Cumberland University, and after graduation was the defensive coordinator at Landmark Christian and Adairsville. His wife, Sandy, is a 1990 graduate of Marion County High School in Jasper, who lettered in three sports there. The two plan on putting roots down in the community and being very local-oriented.
Ross told the Times Free Press, “There are very few places I would’ve left Calhoun for, but this was just one of those places that has everything you want as a coach. They’re rich in tradition, football matters to the kids and the community and I like that. I’m honored to be in this position and I want to continue the tradition they already have and build on it.
“We will play hard, with a lot of effort and energy and be fundamentally sound and I want to inspire the kids to be great citizens and daddies after they’re done playing.”
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press