Welcome to Troup County: Casey Smith takes over as Callaway’s defensive coordinator

Published 9:45 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

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There is a new sheriff (defensive coordinator) in town (Callaway High School). Casey Smith has taken the position and brings an absolute wealth of experience to his new job. 

Smith was Union Grove’s head coach for the last four seasons and previously served as a defensive coordinator across the state. He is a two-time state champion, four-time region champion, nine top-10 finishes for defenses under his command, and 36 career shutouts.

“I’m a coach, and I’m a competitor and I’ve been at places where we’ve won a lot of games and won some state championships and region titles and stuff and that is what I want to be a part of,” Smith said. “When you start looking at Callaway’s record over the last 19 years, you see they have played in 51 playoff games in 19 years, that’s a lot. That means they’re playing until Thanksgiving, in most seasons. And I still think I’ve got some years left to make a difference and help a program and enhance their chances of making some deep runs to the playoffs over the next few years.”

Though he has held the title of head coach for the last several years, Smith also served as the defensive coordinator at Union Grove.

“When I was the defensive coordinator as the head coach at the school, you learn to appreciate the things that the head coach has to do,” Smith said. “It is a lot of intangibles and stuff away from the football field, so I’m excited to get back to doing what I love which is being in the field coaching.”

When looking for a new opportunity, Smith was not short of options. Smith, originally from Franklin and a graduate of Heard County, had a strong desire to get closer to home. When Pete Wiggins made the call, Smith felt a deeper calling. 

“Believe it or not, I was actually on the way for an interview up in Cobb, when Pete (Wiggins) called me and asked me if I wanted to come down here and talk to him,” Smith said. “Me and my wife are originally from Franklin and we jumped at an opportunity to be close to home. My wife and my son are excited to come join the Callaway gang.

“I had some really good opportunities to go somewhere else. But this felt like, the place that my family needed to be.”

Once he met Wiggins in person, he knew this was the place to be. 

“I came down here on a Saturday, and that will be and I talked for like four hours, and honestly, during the four hours, it was maybe 20 minutes of football and the rest of it was about life,” Smith said. “he wants people in the building that are good for Callaway, because he’s been so good to Callaway, and good for Callaway.”

There is a saying that goes “You never want to be the guy replacing the legend.” Well, Smith is bucking trends because he is doing just that. Previous defensive coordinator Dusty Hubbard held the position for 18 years and helped turn the Cavaliers into a defensive powerhouse. Smith, never afraid of a challenge, is set on taking the defense to new heights.

“Dusty did such a great job for a long time here and I feel obligated to uphold the standard of defensive excellence that they’ve had over the years,” Smith said. “I want us to be known all over the state for our defense.”

Smith knows Callaway and Hogansville well, having battled with the schools during his time at Heard County. He knows the standards are high which is one of the major draws to the job for Smith. 

With spring practice well underway, Smith is already in the lab concocting the perfect blend of his style with what came before him. It is a learning process, but do not expect the defense to take a step back with a new face in charge.

Smith is not just about the X’s and the O’s. He wants to see his players succeed on and off the field and push themselves past what they think they are capable of.

“I’ve got six guys that I’ve coached in the past that are currently on NFL rosters and most of them are defensive guys, so I take a lot of pride in trying to help these guys move on along with the rest of the coaches here,” Smith said. “I want to see that they can give themselves a chance to better their lives for down the road, if it’s not pro football, it’s getting a degree and moving on after college. I’ve had over 135 players go on to play college football in my career, and six on current NFL rosters and I take great pride in that.”