Pettit lands football head coaching job at Unicoi Co.

By Jeff Birchfield
ERWIN -- In a surprise announcement, Unicoi County named Happy Valley offensive coordinator Drew Pettit as the new coach of the Blue Devil football team Thursday evening.
Pettit, with no previous head coaching experience, beat out former Cloudland head coach Mike Lunsford and Unicoi County assistant Doug Cooper for the position.
"I'm excited, happy, overwhelmed -- a lot of things are going through my mind," said Pettit. "I think it will be a good move for me in Erwin community.
"I came in the back door. When I came in no one knew anything about me. I stayed very confident through this situation that I could come across as the person to lead this football team."
Many would question why choose someone Pettit? Despite Pettit making the playoffs the last three years as an assistant at Happy Valley. Lunsford's credentials included leading his Highlanders to the state championship game in 2002.
"We think Drew will be a better fit for our system," said Steve Scott, chairman of the Unicoi County Athletic County. "A lot of people will be shocked because we didn't pick Lunsford.
"Lunsford was looking at a couple of other places. We weren't 100 percent sure Lunsford would take the job if offered. We feel Drew will work real well. The interviews he really impressed us."
Pettit felt one of the reasons he did so well stating his case for the position was there were no expectations.
"Being able to put any nervousness in the back of my mind was a good thing from a pressure standpoint," said Pettit, a graduate of West Greene High School.
His first game will be a different situation. The game pits Unicoi County against the Happy Valley team that he is leaving.
"That's going to be big for me," said Pettit. "I learned so much from coach Stan Ogg. One of the things I mentioned tonight when they introduced me is how much I appreciate coach Ogg and the Happy Valley community taking me in as one of their own."
Together for seven years at Happy Valley, Ogg and Pettit managed to lead the Warriors to the playoffs six times. Just this past season, Ogg turned over controls of the offensive play-calling to Pettit.
"He meant a lot to our program the seven years he was here," said Ogg. "We hate to lose him, but it's a step up for him. We wish him the best.
"That game against them will be his first game. He'll do a good job and get them prepared. It's a compliment when anyone that has worked with you like that gets to move on and move up. It's good for him."
The road to success could be tougher at Unicoi County where the Blue Devils won only two games last season under Larry Howell against eight losses.
"What I'm doing is meeting with the coaches on staff from last year over the next few days," said Pettit. "I am open to keeping coaches on staff. I know coach Brewer did a great job and I have found out during this process that coach Cooper is a class act."
Unicoi County does return a very athletic player in Hunter Sparks at the quarterback position.
"I'm really excited about Sparks," said Pettit. "We have a class of 19 seniors with some really good athletes. We have a chance to be successful right off the bat. Obviously there are some challenges in the (Mountain Lakes) conference with teams like Elizabethton, Tennessee High and Sullivan Central."