Chad Watson lands back in Clarksville, introduced as Kirkwood High football coach

A familiar face has returned to Montgomery County after former Clarksville Academy assistant and Northeast High head coach Chad Watson was introduced as the football coach at Kirkwood High School on Thursday night.

Watson resigned as Gallatin's coach Tuesday after spending the past four seasons at the school. During his time with the Green Wave, the program never failed to make the 6A playoffs, but reached the second round only once (2021). His team was 4-7 this past season, losing its final four games, including a 48-0 loss to Cane Ridge in the first round.

"I've known about Kirkwood coming for a while now, but my focus until the end of our season (in Gallatin) was to win games," Watson said. "The chance to return to Clarksville, however, was something my family needs at this point. My wife is expecting our fourth child and with a growing family, it makes sense."

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Watson returns to Clarksville to head up Kirkwood which will open next fall. The school applied for TSSAA membership this month and was approved. It will play 6A football next season and was placed in a region comprised mostly of Clarksville's public schools. West Creek, Rossview, Clarksville, Northeast, Northwest, Kenwood and Dickson County will join Kirkwood in Region 7-6A.

"I'm very grateful for this opportunity to return to Clarksville, a place that I'm very fond of, and getting a chance to start a program from scratch," Watson said. "(Kirkwood principal Jessica) Preppard and (assistant principal) Josh Stoeckl have been great throughout the process and I'm thankful they gave me this chance."

Watson will get a chance to put his fingerprints on a brand-new program.

"Even more than putting my fingerprints on the football program, I'll get to help mold students at the school," Watson said. "My whole approach is to create what I call 'Kirkwood men'. These are student-athletes who will be held to high standards on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. I'm trying to have an impact on the whole student experience."

Watson's return coincides with the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System's decision to re-establish a middle school football program. The county hasn't seen an organized middle school program in more than 40 years and the seven public schools in Clarksville have suffered because of it. The return of it should eventually have long-lasting positive effects on how competitive Montgomery County will be in football.

Watson said he'd also like to establish a youth football league in the Kirkwood area in much the same way he helped to start one in Gallatin.

of Northeast head coach Chad Watson smiles with his team after the game at Clarksville High Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Clarksville, Tenn.
of Northeast head coach Chad Watson smiles with his team after the game at Clarksville High Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Clarksville, Tenn.

"We're trying to lay a foundation of building a great program for the long term at Krikwood," he said. "We want to compete right away and our expectations will be to see a lot of improvement from Week 1 to Week 11 and play for a playoff spot next fall. But the foundation has to be strong first."

Without spring football, Watson won't know until at least June what his roster will look like. Kirkwood will pull students from Northeast and Rossview high schools, but Watson wants an up-tempo style offense similar to what he deployed at Northeast.

Watson's first year at Northeast in 2017 resulted in a 7-3 regular season record before his team lost in the first round of the 5A playoffs to Memphis Southwind. In 2018 his team started out 6-0 but the season was derailed as the Eagles had to forfeit five of its first six games after playing with an ineligible player.

In two seasons at Northeast, Watson's record was 10-11.

Prior to Northeast, Watson spent four seasons at Clarksville Academy as the defensive coordinator under former Cougars coach Todd Hood. Hood now coaches at Rossview.

"I feel like I'm a different coach than I was six years ago," Watson said. "Experience has been the key. You find out what works well for you, what you like and don't like. You learn about yourself as a play-caller. You find out about your weaknesses and work to eliminate that. I'm just a different person altogether than I was when I first started as a head coach."

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Reach sports writer George Robinson at or (931) 245-0747 and on Twitter @Cville_Sports.

This article originally appeared on Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: TSSAA football: Kirkwood hires Chad Watson as head football coach