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Caverna finds “good fit” for football

Thacker takes over Colonel’s football program

By Thomas Wampler

Jobe Publishing Regional Sports

Shawn Thacker has experience working at a small school and getting players to come out for his football team. He hopes that experience will bode well for him at his newest head coaching position at Caverna High School. “I know what it’s like to need bodies,” Thacker said smiling happy to be at “home” for a day last week when CHS held a press conference naming him their 4th coach in 5 years. “I feel like that’s one of my strengths and working with young kids of all ages is what it takes and where it begins when you take over a program that has struggled for the last several years. I think this is a good fit for me and a good fit for the school and the players.”

Thacker not only answered questions from the local media but also from several players gathered at the media day to meet their new coach.

Caverna High School Principal Brad Phipps agreed with his new coach’s assessment. One of the main qualities he and the hiring committee were looking for in a new football coach was the “right fit.” “We feel like Coach Thacker is an excellent fit for the program, the school and the community,” said Phipps after the media day and introduction of Coach Thacker. “I believe that having the proper fit is one of the key bricks in building a foundation for a successful program. We felt like Coach Thacker answered our questions and clearly showed us that he was up to the challenge in front of him.”

Thacker last coached at Pike County Central High School in Pikeville. He is coming off a two-year stint as the head coach there. He has also coached at Clarendon Hall in Summerton, S.C. and compared some of the obstacles he faced there to his task here. “They played 8-man football the year before I was hired and together with the help of the school, players, parents and the community we were able to go to 11-man football and win some ball games and make a deep run into the playoffs,” said Thacker. “I hope with that same type of help and support we can duplicate that success.”

“We had 20 applicants from all over the country. We had people from Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina and several from right here in Kentucky,” Phipps said. “Coach Thacker did a great job of explaining how he intended to build a successful football program and that included taking an active role in our community. Coach Thacker wants to not only involve kids from our school but kids at all levels, all ages. We all agree that is a critical part of getting kids to come out for football and then develop a winning attitude.”

Thacker said in a pre-press conference interview that talking with Caverna Athletic Director Shelby Gribbins and Principal Phipps was instrumental in him accepting the position. “Both men talked about community support and I knew this is where I needed to be and that this was a good fit,” said Thacker. “If you start with the young kids in the community, you get to know them and they get know you, then they will get excited about playing football.”

Thacker is not worried about being the 4th coach in a short time span. “I like a challenge and I like to work hard,” he said. “I love football and will be where I need to be when I need to be to show these kids they can trust me and depend on me all year long, not just during football season.”

Thacker says his basic football schemes are “player friendly.” “Everything builds on some basic plays and the players will be able to pick up quickly the offense and what we are trying to do,” he said. “When we start to win, they (the players) will get behind the football program and so will the community.”

Thacker said the style of offense he runs is based on “space and motion.”

I know we’ve got athletes here and we’ve got kids that can run and that is one thing you can’t coach-speed,” Thacker said. “If we can get our athletes in space, we’re going to win some football games.”

“You will see a lot of misdirection and motion. It is like the offense they run at Auburn. We will line up in the shotgun most of the time and go no-huddle. We can go as fast or as slow as we want to.”

He explained that to players and parents in the audience when they expressed concern on last year’s low numbers that led to the players being exhausted by the end of the game. “We will be in shape and we won’t get beat in the fourth quarter because we’re tired,” Thacker told them during the question and answer session that followed his introduction. “I know and understand your concerns but we will work hard to increase our numbers this year and keep building in the years to come.”

Thacker said he went 9-14 in his two seasons at Pike Central. The Hawks went 6-6 in 2014 and reached the second round of the playoffs. Pike Central put some points on the board under Thacker. He said they averaged over 25 points a game. “Defense will be a focal point here too and I am going to work just as hard on that as I do on implementing my offense,’ he stated. “Pressure is the name of the game and we’re going to bring a lot of pressure on defense.”

Four coaches in five years and a 9-35 record over that 4-year period doesn’t concern Thacker. “That’s the past and we are starting a new football program, building the Caverna High School Colonels tradition moving forward starting today,” he said.

Thacker is under contract at Pike till the school year ends but is already looking for a house in this area. “I believe the potential for success is here and I am moving here, committed to stay and to help that new football tradition begin, develop and grow,” Thacker said.

CHS new football coach

Shawn Thacker (Center) was introduced as the new football coach at Caverna High School last Wednesday at a press conference in the school’s library. Coach Thacker is shown above talking to two members of his football team Noah Morgan and Trenton Scott following his introduction.


Shawn Thacker was introduced by Caverna High School Principal Brad Phipps last Thursday at a special call press conference.