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Smith chosen to lead Devils

After signing his contract to become the new director of schools for Unicoi County, veteran Unicoi County High School Blue Devil basketball coach John English resigned from the program.
On Tuesday, June 2, English announced that Michael Smith, a longtime assistant of his, is the new head coach of the Blue Devils.
“The beauty for me going into this job is I leave the program knowing it is in great hands,” English said. “Our coaches, collectively, will do a great job and each have had a lot to do with the success of the program.”
The Blue Devils achieved success under the direction of English. He amassed a 297-96 record over 12 years, including six District 1-AA titles, seven conference championships and eight appearances at the substate.
“Coach Smith has been a dedicated and loyal member of the Unicoi County basketball program for the past 16 seasons,” English said. “I am excited about the future of the program and look forward to all that will be accomplished under coach Smith’s leadership.”
A friendship with English that has carried over from their playing days for the Blue Devils to coaching together, has Smith ready for the journey ahead.
“It’s exciting,” Smith said Tuesday morning before the Blue Devils headed to King University for a camp. “We’ve learned everything together, from being best friends to playing together at the high school and going from the rec-league to coaching YMCA.”
A bit of a transition is expected, Smith said, but the staff of Ben Evely and Drew Rice has been working together since English was in consideration for the director’s position.
“Ben, Drew and I work well together,” Smith said. “We are going to work to continue the program’s success for years to come.”
Smith also serves as athletic director and assistant principal at the high school. He was the Blue Devil junior varsity coach for the Blue Devils for 10 years with a record of 140-74. He was a varsity assistant for two seasons and interim head coach for one season, posting a 14-14 record.
“Ben has been here around nine years and Drew is going on his fourth,” Smith said. “John’s a great head coach and it will be tough to follow in his shoes, but we’re looking forward to carrying on the tradition.”
Smith and the staff have the Blue Devils hard at work preparing for the 2015-2016 season.
“It’s been great to work with the guys this summer,” Smith said. “We had our first games over at King on Monday and won both. At a couple points we were down by 10, but it was good to see our guys battle the way they did to get the wins.”