BY MONTE HALE JR.
Rockvale football coach Rick Rice is leaving the Rockets program after three seasons to take over the same position at Summertown High School.
"I didn't want to leave, but it was just one of those things that needed to be done," Rice said. "It is about family and it gets me closer to my son and granddaughter. I'm at peace with the decision."
Rice had to overcome several obstacles starting the Rockvale program. He didn't have a spring practice the first year and didn't meet his players until June. In his second year, the Rockets went 0-10.
However, Rockvale had a breakout season in 2021 and reached the TSSAA state playoffs for the first time.
"I'm really proud of our kids for staying the course," Rice said. "The first year was hard and we went 0-10. Last year we went 1-7 and had our season cut short by Covid. Year three was a neat thing winning seven games and making the playoffs.
"My hat’s off to my coaching staff. They were unbelievable in what we were able to do. I told our players when I met with them that playing in the SEC of high school football and going to the playoffs and winning seven games is something to be proud of, and I'm very proud of that and very proud of them."
Rockvale Principal Steve Luker said he understood Rice's decision to resign.
"It's all about family," Luker said. "You hear that all the team, but it truly is. We're ahead of where we thought we would be. When you go to the playoffs in this league in any year it's good. When you go in your third year of existence after a start-up year and a Covid year, that's pretty amazing.
"We're going to post (the opening) and try to find a good candidate. We have a strong coaching staff and we need someone who can work with our existing staff. I think we'll have some interest in it definitely."