By Maurice Patton
Ben Martin and the Spring Hill Raiders continue to be the beneficiaries of an unsettled situation involving their county – and Region 6-5A – gridiron rival.
Jason Hoath becomes the third member of last year’s Columbia Central coaching staff to relocate within Maury County in the 10 days since his firing after five seasons as the Lions’ head coach.
“No. 1, the kind of man he is, the character and everything he brings,” Martin said in touting the value of Hoath joining his staff after Saturday’s announcement that ex-Central defensive coordinator Josh Taylor and former Lion two-way playing standout and defensive assistant Montana Cairns would be on the Raiders’ sideline this fall.
“He’s also a very accomplished coach, with multiple years of head coaching experience. He’s a good coach. As I said with Josh and Montana, they’ve coached in our new region. He’s been a head coach in our new region. That’s an invaluable asset.”
A 2003 Spring Hill graduate, Hoath — a three-sport athlete during his high school days who went on to earn all-conference and all-American honors at Lambuth — will likely have offensive and defensive coaching assignments under Martin.
“We haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk yet, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to help on both sides of the ball and pretty confident he’ll be a huge help,” Martin said. “Montana has already taken over the defensive line and has jumped in with both feet. He’s going to bring a lot of youth and enthusiasm as well as knowledge. Josh is learning terminology right now. We’re doing a lot of the same things; there’s just different names for it.
“A lot of times, when you bring in new coaches, it’s a learning curve – you have to work on chemistry. With those guys, it’s built-in chemistry. They mesh very well with what we do. I think it’s going to be a positive all around.”
With much of the staff already set, Hoath is content to get in where he fits in under Martin.
“I’m excited that Coach Martin gave me an opportunity to join his staff,” said Hoath, 11-12 in two season at Mt. Pleasant before going 23-31 over the past five years with the Lions. “There’s a lot of good things going on at Spring Hill. I’m excited to be a part of it and get into the building as a teacher. I’m looking forward to a new, fresh start.
“I would imagine defensively I’ll be (working with) the secondary, either with the safeties or the cornerbacks. Offensively, I’ve got a little experience coaching all the positions, so I guess I’ll be wherever they need me.”
Meanwhile, Hoath’s sons – freshman running back/linebacker Nate and junior tight end/defensive end Jase – continue to practice at Columbia Central.
“I’m hoping they follow me, but it’s still up in the air,” he said. “No final decision’s been made. It’s tough for Jase, being a junior. I want them with me, but I’ll love ‘em no matter what.
“They’re good ballplayers and good young men. I want them to continue to do the right thing. Until a decision’s been made, they need to be there practicing and getting better at football and preparing for the season and being good teammates. It’s been difficult, but I know they’re going to be successful no matter what they do.”
Dialogue between Martin and former Central offensive coordinator Scott Tilghman continues, but no decision has been made regarding his addition to the staff.
The personnel changes, as the 2021 campaign starts in a month, promise to make the Oct. 29 “Backyard Bowl” regular-season finale between the Lions and host Spring Hill an even more energetic event.
“That’s never much of an issue,” Martin said, “but we may not need the pyrotechnics to have the fireworks.”