Drew Akins instructs Red Bank offensive players during a game against Loudon in October 2017. After working as an offensive coordinator the past six years, Akins has been hired as the head coach at Walker Valley. (Times Free Press Photo: Erin O. Smith)
Drew Akins, who has been one of the most successful offensive coaches in Chattanooga-area high school football in recent years, finally has his chance to run a program.
Akins, who had been considered a candidate for several other jobs, has been hired as the head coach at Walker Valley.
"I feel like I've prepared for this my whole career," Akins said. "There were a lot of times over the last five years where I've gone through head coaching interviews but was passed over, and you start to wonder when will it happen. I would always just go back to work and continue to prove myself.
"I felt like I did well during the interview process, but I tried not to get my hopes up. Answering that call to find out I was the choice was a really good feeling. I'm humbled and appreciative to the community for giving me this opportunity."
Akins, who played quarterback on Boyd Buchanan's 2003 Class 1A state championship team and was a starter for two runner-up finishes, began his coaching career as a student assistant while at Carson-Newman. He began his prep coaching career at Ooltewah in 2009 and worked as the offensive coordinator there from 2013 to '15 before filling the same role at Red Bank the past three seasons.
He took a Lions offense that had scored more than 20 points just once during the season before his arrival to one that averaged 23 points per game during his first season and averaged 39 per game this past season on the way to a third straight region title.
During his time as a coordinator, Akins has had five 2,000-yard passers, five 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers. Red Bank athlete Calvin Jackson was a two-time Mr. Football semifinalist playing in Akins' offense.
"My first priority is to begin building relationships with the kids, the coaching staff, the booster club and parents," Akins said of his plans with the Bradley County program. "That's what it's all about. We have to create the buy-in for what we want to get done, and we can't waste any time getting started. There's a lot of work to do to get things turned around.
"I'll work during the whole Christmas break. I don't want to take any time off."
Akins, who will meet with Mustangs staff and players on Tuesday, said he plans to coordinate the offense next year. He inherits a program that finished 0-10 this past season, is on a 13-game losing streak and won just one game in 2017.
"When Drew came in, he had a long-range plan that looked really good," Walker Valley principal Nat Akiona said. "He has shown success and longevity at the two positions he's held and was very impressive during his interview, which spoke well to the committee.
"Drew has a personality that kids will gravitate towards, and that's what we felt we needed."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.