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North Side assistant Robert Gillard named Liberty football coach

Robert Gillard has been named Liberty football coach, Jackson-Madison County Schools confirmed Monday in a statement.

Gillard spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at North Side. He has experience as a head coach at Austin-East in Knoxville and Sheffield in Memphis, and for three seasons at Kenwood in Clarksville. He was the defensive coordinator at North Side in 2015 and 2016 before making the move to Kenwood.

He is taking over for Scott Akin, who resigned in late November after four seasons leading the program. Liberty went 0-10 in 2023.

"I've always wanted to be a head coach in my hometown," Gillard said in the news release. "My goal is to have an impact that transcends football. Liberty Tech athletes will be trendsetters on the field, in the hallways and in the classroom. It's bigger than football. It's about winning for Jackson."

Liberty has one appearance in the BlueCross Bowl, advancing to the Class 3A state championship game in 2016. The Crusaders lost to Alcoa 45-12.

Gillard was named a TSSAA Coach of the Year finalist and Tennessee Titans Coach of the Year finalist in 2011 but was fired at Austin-East in 2012 for inappropriate language directed at a school administrator, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. He was 16-10 at Austin-East with two playoff appearances.

Gillard graduated from Jackson Central-Merry in 1990. He was an all-state linebacker in 1989 and went on to play football at Holmes Community College and at Lane College, where he was part of the 1995 Dragons Hall of Fame team, which went 9-1.

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Before his head coaching days, Gillard was a member of the Ridgeway coaching staff that won a Class 3A state title in 2002.

"Coach Gillard brings statewide coaching experience to Liberty," JMCS deputy superintendent Ricky Catlett said. "Just as important is his life-long connection to the Hub City. He's a JCM graduate and has experience in coaching and player development in multiple levels of football."

This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: TSSAA football: North Side assistant Robert Gillard named Liberty coach