The 2005 Eastern Kentucky Conference football Offensive Player of the Year returned to the gridiron at his alma mater to begin his coaching career.

Derrik Young never felt comfortable on the football sideline in West Liberty, though.

“I got into a little bit of coaching for football and it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the right spot for me,” the 2007 Morgan County graduate said.

Also a basketball player for the Cougars, Young gravitated back to the gym, where he’s found a niche filling a need — building Morgan County’s girls program.

After a year as an assistant coach, Young has been hired to lead the Lady Cougars.

“I really just built good relationships with the kids and found a place of my own I just enjoyed,” Young said. “And I want to give the kids opportunities like the boys side has, and try to build the program back up.”

Young will be Morgan County’s fourth head coach in as many seasons. He replaces Kelley Hammonds, who stepped down after one year in that position for medical reasons.

Young believes his status as an alumnus of the school and his time coaching in the system help signify his intent to stick around.

“It means the world to me,” Young said of coaching in his home community. “It gives me a chance to give back to Morgan County kids, really try to get them to enjoy the sport that I fell in love with a long time ago, and give the kids what they deserve. If they want to go play college ball, I want to be able to create those avenues for those kids. I’m super excited and privileged.”

Young pointed to the Lady Cougars’ hearty response to extra skill work he conducted after practices last year as progress.

“I think it’s crucial these kids have a year under their belt with me, and they understand where I come from, what I want to do,” Young said. “And I’ve got really good responses out of the kids and the parents.

“I think me knowing the athletes and what they’re good at and what positions they don’t like to be put in gives me a little head’s-up for the season.”

Morgan County athletic director Braxton Howard has taken note of the Lady Cougars’ familiarity with and response to Young.

“Derrik is an extremely hard worker who has worked with and coached a lot of the girls, from elementary up to high school, over the last couple of years,” Howard said. “He’s laid out a detailed plan on how he plans to build the program in the future that we’re excited about.”

Morgan County will likely have 13 players in its varsity program, Young said, from seventh-graders up.

“The numbers won’t be big, but the numbers we have are pretty good players,” Young said.

The new coach believes the Lady Cougars will have the offensive firepower to “get up and down the floor a little, spread the court, try to attack people off the dribble, kick it out and get some open shots,” he said. Young anticipates Morgan County defensively will “probably have to run some type of zone and just be tough.”

That’s been a program-wide theme. The Lady Cougars are looking to build on the confidence of being competitive most nights last year, including giving 62nd District nemesis East Carter a trio of scares.

“I think we got a really good group of younger kids that’s gonna give us a chance to compete at a higher level,” Young said. “I think it’s a really crucial time to capitalize on some stuff. I think if we can get some big wins, we can start getting more energy in the community and start getting kids at a younger age and start a youth program and get some people to buy into it.”

Young, 31, is a 2012 Morehead State graduate. He works at Woodsbend Youth Development Center in West Liberty.

Young is married to Alex. The couple has two children — Willow, 2, and Thaddeus, 4 weeks.

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