D190726 Lawrence County football

Lawrence County football Wednesday at Lawrence County High School. [DAN BUSEY/DECATUR DAILY]

Head coach Rich Dutton is entering his eighth season at Lawrence County this year, the longest consecutive tenure of any coach in the school’s history. However, just being a head coach won’t be his only duty in 2019. 

Dutton will be taking over the role of the offensive coordinator, filling in for the departed Josh Graham. It’s a role that’s not exactly new for him. 

“We’ve gone down this path here before, once when I wasn’t the head coach, and twice as the head coach, Dutton said. “I would like to think that the career I’ve had, learning under really good head coaches, has prepared me.” 

As a head coach, Dutton prefers to step back and let his assistants do the coordinating. But as said before, it’s not a role he’s unfamiliar with. 

“I did it in 2012, which was my first year, we increased our point total but had a lot of turnovers. The second year I did it, we went 5-5 and I was more conservative because we had gotten stronger and faster in the weight room,” he said. “I’d like to think that I’m smart enough to call an offense based on what kind of players I have, and give them as much freedom in that offense and the best chance to be successful.” 

Speaking of the players he has, Dutton inherits an offense with some talented skill players. With Ty Hutto at quarterback, twins Tayi and Malik Strickland at receiver and running backs Allen Johnson and Gage Dutton, the Devils have the chance to make some big plays. 

The offense that they now run is a lot different than what Dutton called plays for earlier in his career at LC. Graham had installed a more modern RPO  (run-pass option) offense and Dutton is working to make sure everything they’ve incorporated stays in tact. 

“We’re trying to create an offense that can be what it needs to be. We want to be really good at our base plays,” said Dutton. “We’re advancing into the age of RPOs and as far as what this offense can be, I hope it becomes what is necessary for us to win on Friday nights.” 

The biggest adjustment will be the changes that come from being just a head coach, to being a head coach and a coordinator. 

“A lot changes. A lot of time goes into preparation. It’s like learning a new language, because, while I helped draw the plays, I allowed my assistants to create their own terminology,” he said. “You don’t want to put new stuff out there just two weeks before the season starts so I have to learn the verbage and catch up. It takes away my eyes from defense and special teams a little, but you do what you have to do and my assistants have been really helpful.” 

Dutton has experienced calling plays on both sides of the ball, and says that the two couldn’t be more different. 

“If you put your time in on defense, you can pick up on tendencies that coaches do and call plays to minimize their damage,” he said. “On offense you have to think completely different. I have to slow down and really digest what I’m seeing. You have to think touchdown, first down, five yards, set up this play for that play, it’s just a completely different mindset on offense.” 

Dutton has no plans on letting his new role become a handicap for an offense he thinks can be very good. 

“We’ve got very good players and a lot of weapons. We think we have a chance to be very successful and very dangerous.” 

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