After long-time head coach Robert Maddox retired last November after 13 years at the helm, the Lee-Scott Academy football program searched for a replacement. The Warriors went 0-11 in their 2018 campaign and were in desperate need of a fresh start. Maddox’s successor came from a familiar face from the opposing sideline in Tuscaloosa Academy head coach Robert Johnson.
Johnson, a 23-year head coaching veteran who has spent the last eight seasons compiling a 61-25 record, eight playoff appearances, three region titles and one state championship for the Knights, previously coached at St. James, Carroll and Pike County high schools.
Lee-Scott fans might be familiar with Johnson’s Knights as Tuscaloosa Academy defeated LSA 27-26 in the 2012 AISA Class AAA state title game to cap off an undefeated season. Facing off against the Warriors on many different occasions, Johnson knows exactly what type of program LSA is capable of having.
“Our kids respect Lee Scott at TA (Tuscaloosa Academy), they respect Lee-Scott so much — possibly because of how much our coaches talk about Lee-Scott and how well they’re coached — especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Johnson said.
And while Johnson has yet to make the full move to LSA as he wants to fulfill his duties as athletic director and math teacher at Tuscaloosa Academy, the veteran coach is confident in his decision to take the Lee-Scott job.
“Lee-Scott is a great school, great administration, great athletic history, unbelievable facilities and in addition to all that, it’s close to some family. My mom lives close by, my wife’s family lives close by, her brother and his family live close by — so the family decision factored in also.”
Johnson will fully move into his new job when basketball season ends as he is the JV basketball coach for a team both his children play on. Until then, Johnson will be at Lee-Scott a couple days a week prior to the start of spring training.
Taking over a program that couldn’t secure a win in 11 tries certainly seems risky to most but Johnson is confident he can turn the Warriors into the winning program fans saw only a few short years ago.
“Well first of all, the struggling, I think that was more of a one-year issue. I believe Robert Maddox was an excellent coach and really left the program, despite the poor record this year (2018), in good shape. He’s been very, very successful. He knows you can win at Lee-Scott, I know you can win at Lee-Scott.”
Under Johnson’s leadership, Tuscaloosa Academy has seen a great deal of success. His 2013 state championship squad was dominant, scoring just over 41 points a game while only surrendering a mere 12.6 points per game on defense.
Going into 2019, Johnson hopes to bring Lee-Scott the same schemes and coaching style that has brought him so much success at his previous jobs.
“I’ve been spread before, I’ve been Wing-T before, we’ve been 4-2 before, we’ve been 4-3 so I mean, so you have to look at your talent and figure out what each individual team needs but the fundamentals of what wins football games will never change,” he said. “We’ll either be a spread team or a Wing-T team, I’m just going to have to see — maybe a combination of both. I’m just going to have to see what type of talent we have in the backfield and throwing the ball — those types of things to decide what we’re going to do there.”
Despite his vast football knowledge and pedigree of success, Johnson prefers to focus on his own, personal coaching philosophy rather than the X’s and O’s of the game.
“I think it has got to be people-centered starting with how we treat the kids and how hard we want the kids to work,” Johnson said. “I think the weight room is the biggest thing — making sure the kids are in shape, making sure that we’re disciplined and that we execute well. X’s and O’s are important but they’re not the most important thing.”