He’s gotten to work under two coaches — Chuck Smith and Larry French — who led Boyle County to state championships and got to coach what he says was “unbelievable talent” during his 10 years as an assistant coach with the Rebels.
However, long-time Boyle assistant coach John Hodge has always dreamed of being a head coach and now he has that opportunity at Bourbon County.
Hodge, 34, takes over a team that finished 8-4 last year and lost in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs to Powell County. Bourbon returns 18 of 22 starters, including Kentayvous Hopkins. He was one of the state’s leading rushers last year when he ran for 2,957 yards and 38 touchdowns and scored 252 points.
“I was contacted after the coach was let go, interviewed and they called and offered me the job,” said Hodge, a Garrard County native. “I talked to them and they made some assurances and we talked about different things to make sure we are all on the same page. I talked to a lot of people whose opinions I respect and decided this was the thing for me to do at this time.
“But it is very, very difficult to leave a place like this that has been great to me. I have made life-long friends and coached some great kids. All that is tough to walk away from. But there comes a time to make a move. I have always wanted to be a head coach and sometimes the timing and opportunity are just right. They are excited at Bourbon and I am excited.”
He’s planning to have two Boyle assistant coaches join his staff. ¿Justin Roe, a Bourbon native, and Zach Massengill both plan to be on Hodge’s staff. Hodge will also be looking to fill other spots either with full-time teachers or paraprofessionals.
“My career goal has always been to be a head coach and I¿have always been up front about that,” Hodge said. “As far as the timing, there’s nothing particular about this. I am not leaving because I¿don’t think Boyle football will still be good. I think Boyle is in great hands with a great head coach (French), good assistants and good administrators. I’m just fortunate I¿can take two really good assistant coaches with me and that will help my transition a lot. I am lucky Bourbon gave me a lot of flexibility with my staff and assured me they would work with me to get the best possible people.”
Hodge will complete his teaching duties at Boyle this year, but he will be “going up and doing some things to try and get everybody going football-wise” in the next few months. He’ll be officially introduced Thursday and will have his first meeting with his players then.
“It’s going to be hard to leave, but I¿just truly feel this is the opportunity I have been waiting for and it was just too good to pass up,” the new Bourbon coach said.