After helping turn football programs around at his previous three schools, Steve Hibbitts sees his new job a bit differently.
Making the move across town from Westside High School, where he led his team to the state AA playoffs the last two seasons, Tuesday, Hibbitts was introduced by Lakeside princpal Steven Cummings as the new head football coach.
Lakeside started the search process after former head coach Jarrett Troxler was announced as Greenbrier’s new head coach on March 25. Taking the podium at his press conference, Hibbitts acknowledged the success the Panthers’ football program has had and quickly outlined what he called Panther-vision.
“I take a different approach here,” said Hibbitts, who was 13-29 in four seasons at Westside. “It’s not so much trying to turn a program around, it’s trying to get a program to turn the corner.”
Hibbitts now helms a team that went 6-5 and advanced to the Class AAAAA playoffs for the third straight year in 2013.
Among the visions he stated for the Panthers is for them to become the preeminent program in the state, to win the state championship in three years, to make a deep run in the playoffs every year and to win the Region 2-AAAAA championship in 2014.
Having a chance to shape the program was a big selling point to Hibbitts.
“In this spot I can establish a whole program, from the recreational leagues all the way up to the high school,“ Hibbitts said. “It’s one of the most appealing things to coming over here. It starts at the rec leagues and making sure the middle school kids are working out and running what we do here. That’s what teams from around the state are doing and we have to do that here to make those runs and make those jumps we need to make.”
Scott Patterson, Lakeside Touchdown Club president, called it a tough decision for the selection committee to winnow 28 resumes down to five or six candidates, but thought they got it exactly right in the end.
“I felt Coach Hibbitts was the best fit,” said Patterson. “I think with his short-term goals, his long-term goals, his vision for the program what it could be what it should be. That’s why I liked Coach Hibbitts.”