- On 09 Apr 2015
reprinted from The Daily Mountain Eagle
Bart Lockhart wasn't planning on leaving his alma mater unless the perfect opportunity presented itself.
Just so happens that opportunity was just 10 miles away.
Lockhart is the new head football coach, athletic director and assistant administrator at Sumiton Christian High School.
|"I've always wanted to be a head coach and I feel I'm ready to give it a shot," said Lockhart, who spent last season as the offensive coordinator at Cordova High School.
Lockhart takes over for Zach Holmes, who stepped down from his post in December after two seasons.
Sumiton Christian volunteer assistant coach Adam Russell was the first to tell Lockhart about the opening at the school.
"Adam called and asked if I was interested. He piqued my interest. The more people I got in touch with, the more that interest brewed," said Lockhart, a 2004 Cordova High School graduate. "When it really got down to it, I had the week of spring break to figure out what I wanted to do. I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be. I was at peace with the decision. I'm excited to be here. (Success) isn't going to happen overnight. It's going to take some time. It's going to take some effort. It's going to take the kids buying into what the coaches are selling. I'm sure they will, and when they do, the success will come."
Lockhart had plenty of success with the Blue Devils' last year. Cordova went from a 2-8 team in 2013 to a 10-4 record and a spot in the state semifinals in 2014. With Lockhart at the helm of the offense, which included an influx of Parrish players, the Blue Devils saw their offensive output increase 10 points last year.
At Sumiton Christian, Lockhart inherits a team that has won a total of nine games over the last three seasons. The Eagles have averaged just 19.8 points a game over that span.
Entering his first season, the focus isn't going to be on the wins and losses.
"We're not going to measure our success based on the scoreboard. We are not going to talk about winning games. We're going to talk about doing things the best we can. We're going to measure success off of that. We are going to base our success on our effort and focus on getting better every week," Lockhart said. "That's the kind of thing that we bought into at Cordova. There were no expectations early in the year. They were 2-8 the year before and Parrish was 1-9. It wasn't like we were expecting something to happen. We just tried to stay consistent with it and they just kept getting better and better and stayed the course.
"The biggest thing is we want to get the guys playing for each other. We want to base success on helping your teammate out. When you start playing for that guy next to you, that's when you start having success."
Prior to his season at Cordova, Lockhart worked at Walker, starting as a volunteer assistant before moving to Maddox as the head coach and heading back to Walker as the running backs coach in 2013. He earned his Master's degree from West Alabama that same year.
His previous dealings with Sumiton Christian came during his playing days.
As the Cordova quarterback, Lockhart beat Sumiton Christian twice, leading the team to a 6-3 win in 2002 and a 29-23 victory in his senior season.
"When I was playing, people like Marcus and Mikey McCarty and Josh Russell played. They were always competitive," Lockhart said.
Sumiton Christian moved from the AISA to the AHSAA in 2000 and had immediate success, going 11-1 in its first season. The Eagles made the playoffs seven of their first eight years. However, since 2008, they have made the postseason just once.
"They are doing things over here to try to get football back to being competitive, where it was when I played," Lockhart said. "They are starting a youth football program. The kids in the elementary school don't have an option to play for Sumiton Christian now. They are working on getting that taken care of. That was another selling point to me."
The Eagles compete in Class 2A, Region 6. Tanner, Addison, Tarrant and Cold Springs made the playoffs from the region last season. The Eagles finished fifth in the seven-team region last year, ahead of Falkville and Southeastern.
Sumiton Christian School Principal Cheryl Capps said Lockhart beat out 87 applicants for the job.
"He's a 100 percent fit for our school," Capps added. "We liked his Christian values and his enthusiasm. He's goal-oriented. We feel like the students will be drawn to him. He's going to help us reestablish a winning football program, but he's more than about winning football games. He's going to be a role model and example for our students."