Scott Grizzle started his head-coaching career four years ago by leaving his alma mater for one of its fiercest rivals.
He’ll continue it by leaving the area where he grew up for the first time in his time affiliated with high school football.
“Not just Class A, but football in that part of the state, it’s something special,” Grizzle said Thursday evening, hours after telling his players at Greenup County that he was leaving to coach Hazard.
“It’s gonna be challenging, but as a coach, you have to kinda relish that challenge. I think if you want to continue to pursue your goals, you can’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone a little bit.”
Grizzle, a Raceland graduate, did that in 2016, when he left his position as the Rams’ offensive coordinator to helm the Musketeers — at the time less than three years past ending the state’s longest losing streak.
Greenup County found success immediately under Grizzle’s lead. The Musketeers went 7-5 in 2016, good for their most victories since 2000 and their first winning season since 2002. Greenup County’s 57-28 playoff victory at Harrison County was only its second postseason win since 2007.
By 2018, Greenup County had stacked together three consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1998-2000 and knocked off Russell in back-to-back years for the first time ever.
The Musketeers slipped to 4-7 this fall, but saw quarterback Eli Sammons become northeastern Kentucky’s all-time leading passer and sign with Marshall.
“What I’ll always remember about Greenup is the transition we made from Year 1 to Year 4,” Grizzle said, “and really just taking baby steps to improve things, improve facilities, improve the weightlifting, and just the relationships with the kids. Those kids at Greenup, they’re great kids, they’re so respectful and hard-working, and you couldn’t ask for a better group.”
Grizzle leaves Lloyd with a 23-22 aggregate record, making him the second-winningest coach in program history — behind his first cousin, T.J. Maynard.
His new program has a bit more positive history. The Bulldogs are three years removed from a Class A state runner-up finish and won the title in 2011.
Hazard went 7-5 in 2019, after which coach Mark Dixon moved to cross-town rival Perry County Central.
“It’s extremely motivating to step into that,” Grizzle said. “It’s gonna be a tough act to follow, there’s no doubt. My main goal is just to bring maybe some new energy into it, but it’s not a situation where you gotta change a whole lot. The kids know what it takes. They’ve been there, and that’s a credit to coach Dixon.”
Hazard reached out to Grizzle over Christmas break, Grizzle said. He had a second interview at the school on Tuesday, after which he was offered the job.
Grizzle is eager to return to Class A, in which he played and coached at Raceland. He threw for 6,399 yards as the Rams’ starting quarterback from 2004-06 — fifth-most in area history. Grizzle was inducted into the Raceland Football Legends Hall of Fame in 2017.
The Bulldogs and Raceland join Pikeville, Paintsville and Williamsburg as perennially strong eastern Kentucky Class A programs.
“It’s gonna be a big challenge,” Grizzle said, “but I know (Hazard has) the resources and tradition in place to compete with those schools, and that’s a big reason why I took the job.”
Grizzle will remain at Greenup County as a teacher for the remainder of the school year, Musketeers athletic director Matt Gilbert said.
“Greenup County High School would like to thank coach Grizzle for his dedication and leadership of the GCHS football program the last four years,” Gilbert said. “We want to wish both him and his family happiness and success as he moves on to the next phase of his career.”
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