By LARRY VAUGHT
A lot of coaches probably would have not considered being the one to follow Chuck Smith, who won six state championships at Boyle County and made a perfect season an annual goal. Not Justin Haddix.
Instead, Haddix has embraced the challenge of continuing the dynasty that Smith has built at Boyle. Smith resigned in December not long after Boyle lost in the state title game. Haddix, who got Corbin to state title games in 2017 and 2018, accepted the Boyle job Sunday. He will also teach physical education.
“Following Chuck can be intimidating but you want to go to a good program to coach,” Haddix said. “They have a really good (coaching) staff. I am coming to a place that wants to win, expects to win. Following Chuck is a big deal. He’s one of the best coaches ever in Kentucky but I am looking forward to the challenge. This is not a three-year decision. It’s a 20-year decision for me, my wife and my family.
He came to Danville early one morning this week just to watch Boyle assistant coach Jeff Hester put the players through a weight room workout before school. He got his chance to meet the players’ parents and other Boyle supporters Thursday night at a welcome reception where he had about 20 family members, including his wife and three children, attend.
“We have a very passionate fan base at Boyle just like Corbin has,” Haddix, age 35, said. “There’s a lot of support here. That’s one thing that really peaked my interest is that this is not a complete overhaul like the first two jobs I took. I had to make a lot of changes in how to do certain things at Corbin. There’s not many changes to make here.
“I don’t talk to parents about playing time but I am open to questions about recruiting or doing anything to help my players. They all will have to earn playing time. I know we have a lot of good kids coming back but the good thing for them and me is that everybody gets a fresh start to prove to me he can play.”
Haddix spent six years at Corbin and went 64-18, including a 17-6 mark in postseason play. Corbin won 11 or more games four times under Haddix but finished just 6-5 in 2019 and was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
“We lost three games by four points,” Haddix said. “We were in battles, played quality competition and just lost some tough, close games.”
Smith was 211-45 mark in 19 seasons during his two stints with the Rebels.