Former Cookeville High School assistant coach Chuck Gentry took control of the Lebanon High program Wednesday. Gentry was most recently the offensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for Cookeville under Jimmy Maynord.
Gentry takes over for Sam Harp, who recorded a 6-36 record in four seasons as head coach. Lebanon completed a 1-9 regular season this past season, capped off with a 45-0 loss at Franklin.
Gentry also coached under Maynord for 10 seasons as Smith County High School starting in 2002.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity – one that I have dreamed about my entire life, being a head football coach. I started in football when I was 7 years old. It has taken me a lot of places and taught me a lot of things. I’m very excited to be in this community and very excited to be a part of Lebanon High School,” Gentry said.
Lebanon High School principal Scott Walters said he believed Gentry was the right choice for the job.
“We did take our time. We did follow a lengthy process that we believe in. Mr. Martin and I are very confident that we have found the man who will breathe some life and discipline into a program, and we are excited to see what is to come,” he said.
Gentry, who has two daughters, Ella Kate and Agnes Beth, said he would treat Blue Devil players like his sons and strive to teach them to compete in the classroom and on the field.
“It’s a day by day process. You have to fight for it every day. I told them the No. 1 thing I’m excited about is getting in the weight room and working. I told them three things – toughness, attitude and discipline. I told them all I want from them is all that they’ve got,” Gentry said.
Gentry said his 18 years alongside Maynord would show on Friday nights as he said the future Blue Devil style of play would be similar to a Maynord-coached team.
Gentry also stressed the importance of community support for the program.
“I think the alumni and the community is very important. First of all, all of the alumni football players, I want them to come back and meet me and be a part of our program. They laid the foundation,” he said.
“This school and this program on Friday night represent this community. We want to be a shining light for this community. We want the community to say, ‘Hey. There’s a Lebanon High School football game Friday night. Let’s shut down the square.”
The acquisition drew praise from district leaders, as well as Lebanon High School football legends.
“I think the next step is to be able to get some kids involved right that are not playing right now. I really like what he said about the weight room and the discipline. It’s all good,” said Wilson County school board chairman Larry Tomlinson, who said he heard nothing but great things about Gentry.
“This is more than just Lebanon High School. This is also about Lebanon as a community. I’m absolutely thrilled that we have someone, not only by reputation, but by what we’ve seen and everyone has commented on the quality and the character of Chuck Gentry,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright.
Lebanon High School Blue Devil Sports hall of famer Danny Watkins also praised Gentry following Wednesday’s conference.
“I generally look for things different than most people. When I was talking during the interview, I noticed his leg kept moving. He was intense. I look for that in a coach because generally if you have a coach that’s intense, that carries over to the football field,” Watkins said.
Watkins said he believed Gentry’s experience in turning around programs would help him as he takes over the Lebanon program. Watkins also said he believed Gentry could bring much-needed consistency to the program.
“You got a new high school and new facilities that are top of the line. I just want people to know that you have to go back and look at Lebanon’s history in football,” said Watkins.”The tradition is there, the program just hasn’t been consistent. I think you have a man now that can keep the consistency in the program.”
Gentry’s wife, Sabra, is a 1995 Lebanon High graduate. He played under Herschel Moore at Cumberland University before becoming an assistant defensive backs coach in 1998. He is a 1994 graduate of Smith County High School.