Safety is first priority as Sullivan East plans to rebuild squad


New head coach J.C. Simmons inherits a team that finished 1-9 last season

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Sullivan East didn’t have the best start to the season last year, dropping their first eight games before capturing its only win of the season, a 21-14 victory over Sullivan North.

The Patriots are heading into a new era with J.C. Simmons taking over the head coaching reigns. The 33-year-old played high school football at Patrick Henry and brought his talents to Emory & Henry where he shined for the Wasps.

He was on his alma mater’s coaching staff in 2010-11 then arrived at Sullivan East in 2012 as an assistant. This isn’t the most ideal situation for a first-year head coach, but Simmons is making sure his players are staying safe off the field, while growing their skills on it.

“We talked about how one person loses, we all lose and we’re trying to stay as safe as possible,” Simmons said. “One of my main things is trying to help our guys to learn your decisions outside of Sullivan East make an impact on Sullivan East.”

The Patriots bring back a handful of talent from last years squad, including Clayton Ivester. The senior wide receiver and middle linebacker knows this season will present some hurdles teams have never encountered.

“Definitely different from the last three years, but we’ve been doing everything we can,” Ivester said. “The coaches making sure all of us have been wearing our masks, keeping a part from each other and last week we got the green light, so we got ready to play and we were all excited for that.”

Sullivan East kicks their season off by hosting Johnson County on August 21.

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