Bleeding Red Devil Red

by david johnson - the walton tribune

Brad Smith. Contributed photo

Loganville High School alum Brad Smith now excelling in role as head football coach

There are times when Loganville head football coach Brad Smith — even in the middle of a game — will gaze around the stadium, see the crowd in a frenzy after a score, the band rocking to the fight song, his players hugging and celebrating, and think to himself, “man, I was made for this.”

He might not have time to stop and smell the roses, but he certainly slows down to sniff them as he runs by.

Now in his third season at his alma mater, the 2004 Loganville High School alum is living the dream.

And that was long before the Red Devils tied a school record for most consecutive wins to start a season (six) with a 64-8 win over Heritage, also a school record for most points in a game, and rocketed to No. 6 in the Class AAAAA rankings.

It’s now 7-0 after a tremendous goal line stand persevered the Red Devils’ 13-10 win over Eastside last Thursday. That result will go a long way in helping Loganville claim a region title.

“Nobody loves this place and wants it to be more successful than I do,” Smith said. “I grew up in this place, I wore the red and white and I tore an ACL and a bunch of other injuries for this program.”

Smith still remembers vividly the moment he got the job.

“I was looking at film in an office in Calhoun with some other coaches when I got a call,” Smith said, referring to his previous job as an assistant with the Yellow Jackets. “I’ll never forget going back in and telling my peers that I was the coach at my old high school.”

Then he called his wife to tell her he’d become a head coach after over a decade of serving as an assistant at four different schools.

Thus began a whirlwind that has only intensified as the years have passed.

His return home wasn’t without its problems.

He wasn’t hired until March of 2020, shortly after COVID-19 began shutting everything down, including high school athletics programs. Not only did he have to forego spring practice, he could only meet his new players by phone or computer.

When the season did begin, albeit a couple weeks later than planned, it was unclear week-to-week if a game would be played or the season completed, depending on whether a player or two contracted the virus.

The Red Devils concluded the topsy-turvy regular season with a .500 record and finished fourth in the region to make the state playoffs, where they were eliminated in the first round.

The next season began with high hopes after a huge addition in the off season. Gavin Hall, who’d led George Walton to the third round of state a year earlier as a freshman quarterback, transferred to Loganville. He was considered one of the top returners at his position in the state.

But just one game into the season — a loss to arch rival Monroe Area — Hall quit the team and moved on to Hebron Christian, his third school in less than two seasons. His departure left Smith and his staff reeling as they tried to revamp on offense that they had prepared all summer to fit Hall’s skills.

The Red Devils went 4-6 and missed the postseason.

This past off season offered its own challenges when Smith had to rebuild his coaching staff after several departures, including both his offensive and defensive coordinators.

But the new group has melded nicely as the offense is on pace to set a school record for most points in a season and the defense is allowing just 11 points a game.

They could set a school record for most consecutive wins with victory over Eastside Friday night at Red Devil Stadium.

It’s rarified air for a program that’s never been a consistent winner. The Red Devils have won nine games three times but never cracked double digits. Dating back to 1970, the school’s first full varsity season, the Red Devils have finished with a losing record 32 times.

Loganville fans are desperate for a winning program, as evidenced by the sellout of the home stands at every game this season. But they could be forgiven for taking a wait-and-see approach.

But Smith is confident he’s inherited and added to a program that’s poised for takeoff.

“In all due respect to all the other coaches, they weren’t me and my coaching staff,” Smith said. “I’ve been a part of 12 region championship teams. My assistants have been with successful programs. We know what it takes win. We know what it looks like.”

And from his perspective on the sidelines, it’s a beautiful thing.

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