Lenoir City High School co-athletic directors Chris Brittain and Jeff Cortez will be looking to make their second hire within a month of being on the job.
Panthers head baseball coach Dusty Langley was relieved of his duties April 27 following two seasons at the helm. He met with the team later that evening to announce the decision.
“It was a good experience for me and it was a good experience for me as a head coach at the high school level. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of as a young man,” Langley said. “You get that freshman class that you come in and you get two full years with them and then you get four games as a junior, we both felt cheated — them not getting to play this year and me not getting to coach. Overall, I’m grateful to Lenoir City for giving me the opportunity to coach their program for the time that I was there.”
Brittain said the decision was part of the new strategic plan of keeping coaches within the building.
“First off, this wasn’t about wins and losses, this wasn’t about any question of Dusty’s character. I mean, he is a professional, standup guy,” Brittain said. “This was simply our strategic plan as far as from the school system, our building, our sports program to put coaches in the building when possible. The opportunity arose for us to make that move, and so we proceeded with that. The main focus was let’s do our best to get coaches in our building, you know, more face-to-face time with kids, building relationships, all that kind of stuff.”
The Panthers went 14-36 overall under Langley and picked up their first District 4-3A win since 2015 last season with a 3-1 victory over the Knox West High School Rebels.
Langley believes the program is headed in the right direction.
“I think we set a foundation to compete in the district we play in, and I know it seems like a broken record, but I always say it’s the toughest district in the state,” he said. “We didn’t win but one game in the district under my watch as head coach, but we competed quite a bit. We took some teams to the distance and down to late innings that we surprised some people, so I would say the culture we built is never quit and always compete.”
Lenoir City posted the job on the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association website late last week, and Brittain said several candidates have already expressed interest.
The school hopes to fill the position before the end of the month.
“We have a few candidates already that have applied, and we’re going to let those come in, and we’re going to set up a time once we’ve given people time to find that posting and apply,” he said. “We’ll kind of go from there with the interview process. Once again, we’ve got to find our guy and someone with a strong baseball knowledge and someone that’s going to build relationships with our kids, someone that’s going to grow the program, work with our feeder schools.”