BELTON — Rodney Southern’s high school coaching career in Texas has essentially been about two places.
And for a second time, Southern is leaving one for the other—Central Texas for East Texas. The Belton athletic director and football coach accepted the same positions at Class 4A Huntsville on Wednesday.
The move comes after leading Belton to a 35-38 record in seven seasons, including a district title in 2009 and two playoff appearances.
“It’s a chance to build another program and it’s also back kind of toward East Texas, which also has a history of having a whole lot of athletes,” Southern said.
Southern first moved from Central to East Texas when he became the head coach at Marshall in 2001. He later spent seven years at Copperas Cove, where he served as linebackers and strength and conditioning coach and later assistant athletics director and defensive coordinator under current head coach Jack Welch.
For Southern, the familiarity with East Texas made the Huntsville job attractive once a friend of the superintendent approached him.
“I was in East Texas for five years in Marshall,” Southern said. “And Huntsville is a lot like Marshall.”
Southern did say it was hard to leave Central Texas a second time after building up a Belton program that went 0-10 the year before his inaugural season in 2007.
In a news release, Belton ISD Superintendent Susan Kincannon was equally appreciative of Southern and his seven years of leadership.
“I want to thank Coach Southern for his vision to make Belton ISD a leading 5A program on and off the field,” Kincannon said. “He oversaw the opening of a state-of-the-art multisport facility at Belton High School. Last year, he led eight sports to district championships, and six more finished as district runners-up. The next athletic director will inherit the solid foundation that coach Southern built for our program.”
Belton ISD did not give a date for when a new hire is expected but Kincannon intends to appoint a committee to advise the district on the new hire, according to the statement.
Southern will look to turn around a Huntsville team that went 2-8 last season in Class 4A.
And he hopes this trip east will be as fruitful as the last one after he led Marshall to consecutive Class 4A state championship games in 2004 and 2005.
“If you look at my time in Texas I’ve either been in East Texas or Central Texas,” Southern said. “They’ve obviously been good to me. Hopefully I’m at a point now where I’ve got six or seven seasons left and I’ll have an opportunity to retire if I want to. Hopefully, East Texas will be good to me again.”