Smith leaves Newton

By ROBBIE ROBERTSON,

Newton High School will soon be looking for a new head football coach.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas announced on Friday that Newton football coach Ryan Smith had been named the program’s new head football coach. Smith leaves Newton after just two seasons with the Tigers, leading them to the playoffs in both seasons and finishing 7-4 last year. The Tigers lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of his two seasons in Newton.

Smith said he thought that God had been drawing him back to his alma mater for several years.

“For me, personally, this is an answered prayer,” Smith said. “SAGU aligns with my goals to be a transformational coach and my desire to help develop players and coaches on a biblically based and spiritually-lead perspective. Our mission as a program is to be a direct representation of what SAGU embodies as a university.”

Last year, Smith resigned for a short period of time to become the offensive coordinator at SAGU. Smith later decided that he would not take the SAGU job and stayed at Newton, citing family concerns with a daughter entering her senior year at Newton County. Smith takes over for Frank Tristan, who was the SAGU coach for the past three seasons.

Smith is a familiar face at SAGU, where he was the starting quarterback for four years and holds every school passing record after graduating from Noxapater High School. In 2004, Smith set the single-season passing record with 2,693 yards. He also holds the career passing record with 6,269 yards.

“We are excited to welcome back Coach Ryan Smith into our SAGU community to lead our football program,” SAGU President Kermit Bridges said. “Along with his own personal achievements as a player and a coach, he is an extraordinary leader and will make an impact in the lives of our players both on and off the field.”

Along with his success on the football field at Newton, Smith also made news in other ways when a video of him baptizing player Garrick Alford went viral and received both praise and criticism from around the nation.

Smith wanted to specifically thank his family during this time of transition.

“I am extremely thankful for my wife, Kristi, and our kids’ (Kailee, Kaden, Kye, and Kollins) support and constant encouragement,” Smith said. “Also, to President Bridges and the executive cabinet for their trust in me to run one of the most unique football programs in the country. Last, but not least, I am extremely thankful to Coach Godding for his influence in my life over the past 16 years and excited about our partnership in building the football program!”

Newton AD Darrin Gray said he couldn’t comment on the matter since Smith’s resignation hadn’t been accepted by the school board.