By JOSH FRYE
After months of anticipation since the resignation of former head football coach Derek Marshman, Northview High School has named 34-year-old Wesley Summerford as the school’s new head football coach.
Summerford, a 2014 graduate of Tate High School, began his first stint as a head football coach on Monday.
“I am very excited,” the new NHS coach said. “I keep having to tell myself to slow down and make sure that everything is right before we get into the swing of things. I want to make sure that we are setting a good foundation and doing things the right way.”
Upon graduating high school, Summerford attended the police academy and obtained a criminal justice degree.
With many police departments implementing a hiring freeze, Summerford made the decision to return to school and fulfill his dream of becoming a football coach.
His first coaching gig came in 2008 when he served as the defensive backs coach and team analyst.
“I always wanted to be a coach,” Summerford said. “Coaching has been in my family forever. My uncle coached NFL star Emmitt Smith, and my brother is the head coach at West Florida High School.”
Summerford explained that the events that led him into coaching represented the path that God laid out for him.
“Milton High School coach Harry Lee has always been a huge impact on my life,” Summerford said. “He is a great coach and a God-fearing man. I am so blessed and honored to have the opportunity to help create a positive influence in these kids’ lives.”
Summerford explained that his philosophy is to make sure that the players are not only performing on the field, but off as well.
His message to his players is a simple, but complex one.
“I want my players to be leaders on the field and off,” he said. “Everything matters. We want to keep up with that standard and achieve our goals in the right way.”
According to Summerford, coaches are always out front. His goal is to set an example for his players, especially as a younger coach who can relate to the mindset of his players.
“You have to use the tools that interest them,” Summerford said. “Our goal is to lead by example and to set a foundation for the younger players.”
With Summerford’s mind set towards the future, he revealed what kind of Chiefs team fans can expect this season.
“We will be a physical team that runs downhill at you,” Summerford said. “Our goal is to push you into doing things that you would not normally want to.”
He stressed that the Chiefs main goal is to control the football. The new head coach knows that when you control the football and ground game, you control the clock.
“Passes can always go wrong,” Summerford said. “While passing is important, we want to be able to control our ground game. If you can control the ground game, you can eliminate turnovers and have a chance at controlling the other aspects.”
Coming into the job during the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly no easy task for any coach.
Summerford hopes his players are getting themselves ready for the heat that awaits them, as practices are set to resume June 15 for Florida schools.
“The heat is going to be the biggest issue for us,” he said. “These guys have been getting acclimated to the air conditioner and our biggest task is getting exposed to the heat again. This is something that we have to do, but we have to do it safely.”
Summerford will also be serving as a physical education teacher and weight-lifting coach for NHS.