JOHNSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- News Channel 11 is learning more about a volunteer high school football coach who died earlier this week in a car crash.
On Tuesday, the Athletic Director for Johnson County High School, Austin Atwood, confirmed with News Channel 11 that Randy Smith died in a car crash in Watauga County, North Carolina.
According to Atwood, that crash happened Monday.
Wednesday night’s football practice at Johnson County High school was missing an important voice-
Senior Jisaiah Webster says, “It’s like a hole in your heart.”
Senior Colt Moody agrees. He says “It’s like being broken.”
Coach Smith has coached several of the team’s players throughout their middle and high school football careers.
“Ever since my middle school years, he came up here and coached all of us right here and he was just a mentor to all of us,” says senior Jared Kimble.
Randy Smith was the assistant defensive coach of linebackers for the Johnson County High School football team – – a volunteer who gave his time to a team he loved.
“We’ve got a lot to play for this week,” said Johnson County High School Head Football Coach Don Kerley as he wrapped up the first full practice without Coach Smith.
“Its going to be tough on everybody, but they can do it, they can do it,” said Kerley.
Players past and present described Coach Smith as fun, outgoing and always ahead of the game.
Former player Nathan Lane says, “he always kept a smile on everybody’s face, he always kept everybody up.”
Webster remembers him as another father figure.
Coach Kerley says that Randy Smith saw the program through the good and the bad.
“When Randy first got here, we struggled quite a bit. We went to Alcoa and got whipped like a lot of teams do. He was still fired up the next day. You don’t see that a lot from a lot of coaches,” said Kerley.
And they say Smith had a gift for coaching the defense.
“He lead us to two straight conference championships, 11-1 my senior year, 9-1 the other boys’ year, he was just a motivator,” said former player Jordan Edes-King.
Those seasons were something Smith worked hard for and was proud of.
“He was just like ‘yeah’ its going to happen, we’re getting that back to back shirt and he pushed us to get to it,” said Lane.
Players say that he was always watching film.
“Everything we needed to know, if it was on defense, he showed us how to read them, read the teams better, watch film as much as possible,” said Moody.
Randy Smith had no kids in the Longhorn football program. But did have a love for the kids on the team – and the game that brought them together.
“He loved the game, he loved these kids and I’m proud of Randy and the accomplishments we’ve had with him,” said Coach Kerley.
But what Coach Smith taught the players outside of practice and games is cherished even more.
“Even though his passion was football, he wanted to instill what he knew about life into the football kid,” says Lane.
Several of the players- past and present say they want to honor Smith by going to college and playing his favorite sport at the collegiate level.
“He would not want any of us crying, any of us being sad, he would want us playing, that’s what he wants,” said Edes-King
The team’s first game since Coach Smith’s death is this Friday at West Greene. Each player on the team will wear the number 10- Smith’s high school football number- on their helmets from here on out.