NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. — It’s Josh Sims who takes over the reins of Magnolia’s football program, stepping in for longtime coach Mark Batton who retired after the 2013 season.
Sims, who was an assistant on Batton’s staff last year, was officially approved and announced as the new head coach early last week.
“Things just seemed to fall into place – it’s a real honor and it was really just a surreal moment all together,” Sims said. “I played for Coach Batton and absorbed everything I possibly could over the last year as an assistant. Thinks worked out and I’m super excited to get to work here.”
The 2006 Magnolia graduate played football, basketball and baseball during his tenure with the Blue Eagles. Sims spent a couple of years as an invited walk-on at WVU, recruited by former Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart.
“Magnolia is all about tradition here and I’m not going to try to fix something that isn’t broken,” he said. “My job is to come in here and represent the principles that we represent at Magnolia – trying to instil things like integrity, discipline, toughness and loyalty into these kids.
“Our philosophy here is if you can get those principles into your players, then you have a chance,” he continued. “Even if your talent isn’t so good, if you have some tough kids out there, you’ll have an opportunity to win some games.”
At 26 years old, Sims certainly will be one of the younger head coaches in the state.
“I’m sure there was some hesitation on other people’s part (about my age), but there was no hesitation on my part whatsoever,” Sims said. “I’ve been around this game my entire life and when I did play the game, I was a coach on the field.
“Not to mention, I’m also going to surround myself with good people – I’m going to have some great veteran coaches with me,” he continued. “Guys like Doc Chapman, John Smith, Bob Ripley and I’m sure Coach Batton will still be around a little bit. We’re all going to work together and try to do our best for the team. The age thing doesn’t bother me whatsoever, I’m going to have a great staff around me.”
Sims had an opportunity to meet with his players early last week, shortly after the hire was made official.
“The boys seem real excited and I think we might get some athletes who maybe didn’t play football last year to come out,” he said. “That’s another thing with my age that I think is a plus – I think I can relate to these guys a little better and they can relate to me. That will get a good cohesion between the coaching staff and the players.”
The Blue Eagles will be a young group overall in 2014, returning just three seniors from a team that made the state semifinals last year.
“We have a good junior class and a good core of linemen,” he said. “But we lost all of our backs, our receivers and our quarterback. There will be some growing pains on my part, as well as the players. But I think we’ll just grow together and I think you’ll see a lot of progression throughout the season.”
Batton, meanwhile, finished his 15 years as the head coach at Magnolia with an overall record of 119-56, including the 2010 Class AA state championship. The Blue Eagles have reached the semifinals in both of the past two seasons in Class A.
2014 Football Schedule
|2||09/12/14 01:30PM||A||GREENBRIER WEST||–|
|3||09/19/14 07:30PM||A||RIVER , OH H.S.||–|
|4||09/26/14 07:30PM||H||WHEELING CENTRAL CATHOLIC||–|
|5||10/03/14 07:00PM||A||MONROE CENTRAL , OH H.S.||–|
|7||10/17/14 07:30PM||H||ST. MARYS||–|
|8||10/24/14 07:30PM||H||TYLER CONSOLIDATED||–|
|9||10/31/14 07:00PM||A||BARNESVILLE, OH H.S.||–|
|10||11/07/14 07:30PM||H||LINSLY, WV. H.S.||–|
|wins: 0 lost: 0 ties: 0|