Oak Mtn. names football coach

Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A three-month search for Oak Mountain’s head football coach is over. Former Mountain Brook wide receiver coach Jeff Harris will be introduced to Oak Mountain players Thursday morning and to parents Feb. 17 night at a meeting in the school auditorium.

Harris accepted the job Monday after taking the weekend to think about the offer of which financial details are still being negotiated. Approval from the Shelby County Board of Education is pending.

“Right now the first order of business is to get there and meet the kids,” Harris said Wednesday. “I want to get into the weight room and see what they’ve been doing.”

Harris said after meeting with his new players Thursday, he will meet with the coaching staff and will begin searching for an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator soon.

“I’m going to met with everybody currently on staff and give everybody an opportunity to prove their value and to show that they are going to be on board with the change that’s taking place,” Harris said. “I look forward to getting to know those guys in the coming weeks.”

While Harris has helped with the wrestling programs at Spain Park, Berry Middle and Mountain Brook in the past, he said he is going to become a strong supporter of the Oak Mountain wrestling program while he focuses solely on football.

“I think this thing is a sleeping giant,” Harris said. “The other male sports (soccer, wrestling, basketball and baseball) have proven that they’ve achieved success at higher levels. It’s just a matter of getting in there and finding some of the ones who have fallen out of the program. Getting the same kind of results that we’ve seen in other male sports at Oak Mountain. I know that the potential is there for football to do well … I would hope me coming on board will stir up a new intensity that hasn’t been there the past few months.”

Harris will assume the role of associate athletic director in addition to being the head football coach, filling the vacancy left by Jerry Hood, who resigned the first week of November after five seasons.

Harris, 39, is a graduate of Homewood High School, where he was a state finalist as a player in 1987 and helped the Patriots return to the state championship game in 1992. After receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Harris joined the Hoover School System, where he served 10 years as the athletic director and head football coach at Berry Middle School, where he won three Metro South Championships. During that time, he also served on the Hoover Bucs staff that won state titles in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

In 2004, Harris moved to the Mountain Brook system, where he has worked at Mountain Brook Junior High and coached defensive line, running backs, special teams and receivers for the Spartans’ varsity squad — reaching the state quarterfinals the past two years.

Harris said he believes he was recognized for the job by Oak Mountain principal Joan Doyle, because of the coaches he has worked for in Class 6A, Region 6 over the years.

“I think Mrs. Doyle recognized the value of me being involved with great programs and great leadership through the years,” Harris said. “I’m very blessed to be under some of the best coaches. I’m humbled at the thought that I’m going to be standing on the opposite sideline from those guys.”

Harris, in his first season as a varsity head coach, will face his former school when Oak Mountain hosts Mountain Brook on Sept. 4.