By KEITH SPARKS
To shore up his coaching staff, Liberty Hill’s new Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Jeff Walker looked to the 2006-2007 State Championship teams that he coached as the Offensive Coordinator at the time.
Jordan Johns, who played on the defensive line at Liberty Hill High School during both State Championships, has joined Walker’s coaching staff to lead the Panthers’ defensive line.
Prior to joining the Panthers, Johns coached football, basketball and baseball at Rockport Fulton High School for three years after teaching physical education at Stephenville Elementary School fresh out of college at Tarleton State University, where he studied kinesiology.
Although Johns and Walker went six years or so without communicating, Johns said he reached out to Walker via email while he was the Head Coach at Rogers High School. When Walker became the Head Coach at Liberty Hill in February, their communication ramped up, ultimately ending up with Johns landing his current coaching position.
“The thing I remember most is his intensity and his drive for perfection,” Johns said of what he remembers about Walker as a coach. “He always wanted everything exactly how it’s supposed to be. He wasn’t satisfied with it just being okay; it had to be perfect.”
Johns said that he and his wife, Chelsye, also of Liberty Hill, have always talked about moving back to their hometown, but didn’t expect the call to come as soon as it did. Johns and his wife couldn’t be happier to move back where their story began.
“Me and my wife just really enjoy the town,” Johns said. “She’s also from Liberty Hill. We love Liberty Hill. We love being by our families. It’s a great place to be. With the schools and sports, the atmosphere, everything’s taken seriously. There’s not one sport that they say ‘Well, we can just do without it.’ Everything is held to a high standard.”
Since Johns last called Liberty Hill home, a lot has changed. The Panthers no longer play on the same football field, the students no longer walk the same halls, and the school district’s population has increased exponentially.
“Within the city, everything has pretty much quadrupled since I’ve been there,” Johns said. “We didn’t even have Sonic when I was there. Now we have stores everywhere.”
Although Johns has been away from Liberty Hill football for quite some time, he’ll come in with the advantage of having already played under Walker, knowing the Panthers’ Slot-T offense from his own experience on the team, and having run an identical defense at Rockport Fulton where he’s coached for the past three years.
“It gives me an advantage, because I’m able to help other positions if I’m needed to,” Johns said. “I understand my position and my role and what I’m supposed to be coaching, but me understanding the Slot-T – and we ran the same defense at Rockport that we’re about to run – it allows me to be able to help other coaches or help the players understand more if they’re not getting the concept that we’re trying to teach.”
Johns isn’t the only member of those Liberty Hill State Championship teams that Walker has looked to for help. Brandon Terry, another Liberty Hill graduate and State Champion football player, will also be joining the Panthers’ coaching staff.
According to Johns, having one of his former teammates on staff should help each of them transition into their new roles.
“It’ll help me a lot, having someone my age there, that we’ve been through the same things,” Johns said. “I get to discuss stuff with him. If I’m having problems, he might be able to help me a little bit more than an older coach would. It’ll be easier, I guess communication-wise, with him.”
In addition to his role as the Defensive Line Coach, Johns will serve as an assistant on the baseball team’s coaching staff. He’ll also teach special education at the high school.