When Chris Parker stepped down after 20 years as Clarke County’s head football coach on Feb. 26, Casey Childs knew right away he wanted to be Parker’s successor.
On Monday night, it became a reality when the Clarke County School Board approved the hiring of Childs, who has been the team’s defensive coordinator since 2007. A 1993 Clarke County graduate and a 2009 inductee into the school’s Hall of Fame, Childs will continue to serve as Clarke County’s director of athletics, a role he’s held since 2008.
“I’m excited,” said Childs, who felt good about pursuing the job as a result of having the endorsement of Parker and the support of his fellow assistant coaches. “I graduated from here, I played here. To say that I love Clarke County is an understatement. When I left here to go play at Bridgewater [College], I came back to do my student-teaching at Clarke County.
“When I was able to come home [after nine years at other high schools] 13 years ago, it was special. And then when the AD position worked out the way that it did, that was really special. But to able to coach football, and be the head football coach, and be the athletic director as well, it means more than anybody from the outside can actually see. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m grateful to our school administration and our school division that they’re allowing me to do both of these things and work with kids that I love.”
Childs takes over a Clarke County program that went 145-79 under Parker, including a 120-34 record since 2007 in which the Eagles made the playoffs every year. Clarke County went 8-3 last year and lost in the Region 2B quarterfinals.
This is the second time that Childs has been hired to be the head coach of a football team. Childs led Potomac Falls to a 19-21 record from 2002-2005.
Childs said it’s not uncommon for smaller schools like Clarke County to have someone serve as both an athletic director and a head coach, and added there’s no rule against it. Given that he’s used to putting in a lot of hours as an assistant football coach, he said he’s comfortable with the idea of handling the role of AD and head football coach.
“The fall is probably the easiest as far as the time commitment [as athletic director],” said Childs, who gave up his role as head baseball coach prior to the 2009 season. “Spring is really crazy [with eight teams compared to five in the fall]. And football is what I’ve been coaching for the longest time, so that’s why I continued to do what I was doing [back in 2008].”
Clarke County principal Dana Waring said she doesn’t have any concerns about Childs’ ability to do both roles.
“He’s handled himself very well in dual positions within our county [for a long time],” Waring said. “He does a great job working with the coaches of the different sports and the students. I have no doubt he’ll be dedicated to putting in however many hours he needs to put into both positions.
“We’re looking forward to having him lead this team. I think the players are excited and the families are excited, so we’re looking forward to next season. Coach Parker was a phenomenal institution here. It will be a little bit new and different but we’re very excited for that as well.”
A football committee comprised of high school administration and school division administration was formed to hire Parker’s replacement. Childs was not on the committee. Waring said there were several candidates for the position, and Childs was one of three people who were interviewed.
Though he certainly has plenty of experience at Clarke County, Childs said the football committee did its best to make sure he was the right person for the job. Childs said his interview on Google Hangouts in March lasted almost 90 minutes.
“It was a good interview,” Childs said. “I think there was some really great questions asked and I think there was great dialogue between the administration and myself in regards to stuff I’d like to do, and some stuff they also had some ideas on.”
Football-wise, Childs said he doesn’t plan on changing much, not a surprise given Clarke County’s success.
The Eagles will continue to use the single-wing offense that has generated at least 200 rushing yards per game every year since Clarke County installed it in 2008. Childs will continue to run his multiple defenses and make significant use of the 3-4 because of Childs’ affinity for having a nose guard set the tone on the defensive line. Clarke County’s opponents have averaged more than 17 points per game in just three seasons out of the 13 Childs has run the defense, and in three seasons Eagle opponents have averaged single-digits in points.
Because Parker encouraged creative thinking from him and his fellow assistants, Childs said the Eagles’ veteran staff is well-prepared for the future.
“He was the best I’ve ever seen in regards to letting his coaches coach,” said Childs, who has also had stints as an assistant coach at Warren County, Potomac Falls and Loudoun County. “If our ideas were sound, we did them. I’ve had a lot of influence over what we’ve done the last 13 years, and for Coach Parker to allow me to do those things and take the reins on certain parts was great.”
Childs said he’ll make some minor changes with coaches’ meetings and the weekly practice plan. Off the field, Childs wants to get his players involved in a reading program involving elementary school students and start a mentor program between his coaching staff and his players.
“Every one of our coaches is going to have a set of players that they’re going to be in constant contact with throughout the year, just to check-in, see how things are going, monitor grades,” Childs said. “They’re going to talk to those kids a lot so they can stay close to our players. We’ve got a great relationship with our kids and our community and our parents, so we’re going to try to add to that.
“Then with the reading program, I want to send some kids over to the elementary schools. Those kids look up to athletes and the kids in the uniforms, so I want to send our kids over in the fall and read to them and get actively involved with them.”
Waring said she’s definitely excited about the reading program.
“Anytime we can connect our older students to our younger students, I think that’s fantastic,” she said. “Particularly with young male adolescents, to have that strong role model, I think that’s fantastic whether it’s within the school or the community.”
Parker believes Childs is the perfect person to lead the young men on the Clarke County football team because of his experience and his connection to the school and community.
“He’s a really good coach,” Parker said. “I think it will be smooth sailing. He’s got a good rapport with the players. He and the staff are going to do a great job.”