Jeff Hunnicutt

Model head coach Jeff Hunnicutt has started a new era in Shannon and took the Blue Devils back to the playoffs in his first year.

When Jeff Hunnicutt took the head coach job at Model, his goal wasn’t necessarily to put up a lot of wins right away.

He wants to start a legacy with the Blue Devils and mold his players into good people using the game of football. But Hunnicutt also enjoyed some success in his first year with the Blue Devils, and for his efforts at the helm, he’s being named the Rome-News-Tribune Coach of the Year.

Hunnicutt said he wants to follow in the footsteps of his father — longtime Pepperell head coach Lynn Hunnicutt. The elder Hunnicutt coached the Dragons from 1983 to 2006 and led them to a state championship in 1990.

“Anybody in this business is wanting to be successful,” Hunnicutt said. “But it’s never about my win-loss record. If I’m creating great fathers, husbands and men of society, the wins and losses will take care of themselves. I hope I can leave a lasting footprint on this side of town like he did on that side of town.”

Jeff Hunnicutt coached the Blue Devils to a 5-6 record overall this past season, but more importantly to a 5-2 Region 7-AA record, earning them the third seed and their first trip to the Class AA state playoffs since 2016.

The Blue Devils pulled off a playoff appearance despite an 0-3 start to the season. Model lost the first two games by a combined 10 points and held North Murray to 24 points. North Murray went on to take the second seed in Class 6-3A after ending Calhoun’s 28-season streak of region wins.

The Blue Devils also held region champion Rockmart to its lowest point total against region opponents.

“We tried to view it as two seasons,” Hunnicutt said. “We changed a little of what we were doing offensively, but we still went back to some of those things as the season progressed. We were very competitive in those early games.”

Hunnicutt is hoping to bring some consistency to the Blue Devils after having three head coaches the last three seasons. Despite that, the coach has seen his team buy in to what he’s trying to do and have success at it.

“We stumbled out of the gates, and they could’ve quit at any time,” Hunnicutt said. “We were competitive for the most part in all of our games. For them to adapt to my way of doing things and my way of coaching and to push through our struggles, that’s what makes doing what we do fun.”

While the team has some players who won’t be back, Hunnicutt sees a lot of potential in the players returning and the younger ones who are on their way up.

“We’ve got a lot coming back and I’m hoping we can keep building,” Hunnicutt said. “Some are irreplaceable, but we’ve got good junior, sophomore and freshman classes. Things are bright in Shannon. We’ve just got to keep growing.”

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