Whenever the 2020 high school football season begins in Southwest Virginia, Seth Padgett will be calling the shots for the defending VHSL Region 1D champions.
The 37-year-old Padgett was officially appointed as the new head coach of the Patrick Henry Rebels last week during a Washington County school board meeting.
The 2002 graduate of the now-defunct St. Paul High School in Wise County has an extensive resume that includes stints as an assistant at St. Paul, Eastside, Patrick Henry, Fort Chiswell and Chilhowie.
He was an assistant on head coach Mark Palmer’s staff at PH from 2011-2014 and has familiarity with the program and the community.
“The people at Patrick Henry have always been great, and I still know a lot of them and talk to a lot of them,” Padgett said. “I am looking forward to meeting the kids and getting started.”
Palmer stepped down from his post in April after accepting a job at Anderson County High School in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The Rebels improved each season under Palmer’s watch, going 62-43 during his nine seasons on the job.
The team was 0-10 the season before he arrived.
“I think what Coach Palmer’s done in these last nine years to take it from where it was to what it is now is something that’s just unreal,” Padgett said. “That speaks a lot about him, his coaches and all the players who came through and bought into his philosophy. … He’s a father figure to me, he’s a mentor, and it’s just a real blessing for me to get to follow him. He has taught me so much.”
Padgett competed in basically every sport offered at St. Paul, but his greatest glory came on the gridiron. He was a running back, wide receiver, tight end and middle linebacker for the Deacons and part of a regional runner-up squad in 2001.
He played football at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, prior to entering the coaching profession. He followed his father, Walt, into the family business and has been a head girls basketball coach and assistant boys basketball coach.
Seth Padgett spent the 2017 season as the head football coach at Santa Rosa Academy in Menifee, California, going 5-4-1 at the school located 40 miles north of San Diego and 60 miles south of Los Angeles.
He’s coached on both sides of the country in a well-traveled career.
“Football is football no matter where you’re at. Players want to be coached hard and get better,” Padgett said. “I think the kids at Patrick Henry are the same way. They want to get better and keep building on what they’ve done.”
Padgett’s predecessor at PH certainly knows what his protégé can do.
“Seth has many strengths,” Palmer said. “He develops great relationships with his players, does a great job in the weight room, is very organized and is one of the better offensive minds in the area. I truly believe this is a home-run hire for Patrick Henry and couldn’t be happier for the players.”
The Rebels won the Hogoheegee District title, claimed a regional championship for the first time in program history and finished with a 13-1 record in 2019. The season ended with a 41-16 setback to Galax in the VHSL Class 1 state semifinals.
Both of those semifinalists will have new coaches in 2020, as Mark Dixon left Galax to become the head coach at Pulaski County and assistant Shane Allen was promoted to the top position for the Maroon Tide.
Patrick Henry will have several starters returning next season.
“There’s going to be some things that will change, but a lot of things [Palmer] did will stay the same because they are things he taught me,” Padgett said. “These last five years, Patrick Henry’s won 56 games, and the last two they’ve won 24. These kids know how to win, and we’re just going to keep building on what they’ve done these past several seasons.”
The VHSL announced last week that out-of-season practices could begin once schools submitted plans to the Virginia Department of Education that would properly follow Virginia Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve got to get a plan in place, and once the plan is in place, we’re going to get to work moving forward, training and preparing like there is going to be a season,” Padgett said. “Because I think there will be a season.”
Unlike Palmer, Padgett will not serve in the dual role of head football coach and athletic director.
Sarah Helton was named as the new AD at Patrick Henry during the recent school board meeting.
She has coached track and field at PH and was a basketball star at J.J. Kelly High School and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.