For new Lawrence County football coach Trent Walker, his arrival doesn’t represent a new day.
“I’ve seen coaches that came into a new program with the mindset that it’s a new era,” Walker said. “That’s not what we’re doing here. The work that coach (Rich) Dutton, the assistant coaches and the players have done the past several years should be commended.”
Walker arrived to take over the program after the aforementioned Dutton left to take the head coaching job at Grissom. In his time at Lawrence County, Dutton helped guide the Red Devils to the playoffs four of the past six years.
“When I was coaching in college and would go out to recruit, I saw a lot of programs that were in transition,” Walker said. “This is not one of those programs. We’re not starting over here; we’re going to build upon what’s already been established.
A long road traveled
A native of Cullman, Alabama, the 35-year-old Walker has traveled a long way in his short career.
After attending the Air Force Academy to start out of high school, Walker eventually turned to coaching.
“I loved the Air Force Academy, did some great things there. But I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fly so I decided to leave in good standing and look elsewhere,” Walker said. “Coaching was always something that I wanted to do. In addition to my dad, some of the coaches I had were also like father figures to me. I always wanted to be that for someone else.”
So, Walker made his way to Guntersville High School as a volunteer coach before eventually moving to the college ranks.
Walker made stops at Auburn and VMI (Virginia Military Institute), working under coaches such as Tommy Tuberville, Gene Chizik and Sparky Woods as a student assistant, quality control coach and position coach.
Eventually though, Walker found his way back in the high school ranks of Alabama.
“I was engaged at the time when I left VMI and my fiancé was a tenured teacher at Cullman,” Walker said. “Family was becoming important to me so coming back to coach in high school instead of college was something I wanted to do.”
That family priority has made its way to Walker’s coaching.
“One thing Pat Dye said one time was ‘never coach your kids harder than you love them,” Walker said. “I’m a passionate guy, so I’m going to coach my kids hard. But they’re going to know that it comes from a place of love and a desire to do what’s best for them.”
A dream come true
Walker has spent the last five years at his alma mater Cullman, serving as a position coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. But Walker felt the time was right to make the jump to be a head coach.
“One thing coach Chizik taught me was don’t wait till you’re a head coach to start making notes,” Walker said. “So, I’ve been making notes for a while on things I would do if I were head coach. It felt like the right time to start acting on them.”
Walker interviewed for a few head coaching spots, until he accepted the Lawrence County.
“Lawrence County felt like the right fit at the right time,” Walker said. “I had had people tell me that it was a great place to be, that the community support was amazing. In the short time I’ve been here I’ve experienced that firsthand.”
Walker plans to build upon the foundation that has been laid here at Lawrence County.
“Lawrence County was 23 points last year from being undefeated in the region. You’re talking an average of just 5.5 margin of defeat,” Walker said. “Our goal here is to improve on that, to help take that next step. To learn how not to give up that one extra touchdown so we don’t lose a tight game.”
How will they do that?
“By building a program of consistency,” Walker said. “We want to establish consistency based on the cornerstones of hard work, accountability, discipline and togetherness.”