For the first time in 43 years, there will be a new Head Coach on the sidelines of Buddy Anderson Field at Thompson Reynolds Stadium. Prior to the 2020 season, Buddy Anderson, the legendary Head Coach at Vestavia Hills High School announced that it would be his last season patrolling the sidelines on Friday nights. Anderson was hired as an assistant coach at Vestavia Hills in 1972, where he was named the head coach in 1978. In his 43 seasons, Anderson led the Rebels to a 346-160 record, including 47 playoff wins, and 152 region victories. With Anderson at the helm, Vestavia made 32 playoff appearances, including four trips to the state championship game. Vestavia went to three-straight state finals from 1978-1980, winning the school’s first championship in 1980, with a 15-13 win over Parker. The Rebels would go on an eighteen year title drought, winning it all for the last time in 1998, with a 10-7 win over Vigor, in the program’s first title appearance since 1980.
This season didn’t go as planned for the Rebels, as COVID-19 ravaged the program in August, infecting Coach Anderson, and prompting the forfeit of their first two games. Vestavia finished the season on a 6-2 tear, after losing to Hoover and Oak Mountain in their first actually played games of the season.
On Wednesday, January 13, Vestavia Hills City Schools approved a new head football coach, for the first time since they approved Anderson in 1978. The Rebels went across state lines, hiring Sean Calhoun, who had previously been the head coach at Carrolton High School in Georgia, where he went 51-12 in five seasons.
Calhoun, 39, has a busy and impressive resume. Prior to his hiring at Carrolton, Calhoun was the Offensive Coordinator for Colquitt County (Ga.) and former Hoover coach Rush Propst for two seasons. During that time, Colquitt County went 30-0, winning back-to-back state championships. Before Colquitt, Calhoun was the Quarterbacks coach at Collins Hill in Atlanta, where he coached Taylor Heinicke of the Washington Football Team. He began his coaching career at D-II Valdosta State in south Georgia, where he was the Running Backs coach when the team won a National Championship in 2007.
The list is impressive, but that isn’t what made Vestavia’s administration decide he would be the coach. “Coach Calhoun has dedicated his career to investing in the lives of young men through the sport of football,” Vestavia Hills City Schools Superintendent Todd Freeman said in a press release. “His values and commitment to excellence are aligned with those of our school system and community. His successful experiences have prepared him to lead our football program and build on the legacy established by coach Anderson and his teams. Coach Calhoun and his family will be a wonderful addition to Vestavia Hills.”
Ultimately, the results on the field aren’t as important in high school as developing the players into good young men. Vestavia appears to have taken the right step to fulfill both categories. It won’t be easy, though. Vestavia plays in the toughest region in the state, Class 7A Region 3, which features powerhouses around every turn. Thompson, coming off a second-straight title, Hoover, and Hewitt-Trussville all play in this region, and are threats to win a blue map every season. Other teams like Oak Mountain and Spain Park play at a tough level throughout the season, and always give the Rebels a good fight.