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Milan names McKenzie’s Wade Comer as new football coach

After going with younger guys in the last three coaching selections, Milan has decided to go with a veteran this time around for its new head football coach.

The Milan administration named McKenzie’s Wade Comer as the new coach on Tuesday.

“I am excited to announce Wade Comer as the new Milan High School head football coach,” Milan superintendent Jonathan Criswell said. “Coach Comer has the championship coaching experience we were looking for and a legacy of developing young men into great leaders. I’m excited for our team to begin the process with Coach Comer toward another fall of victorious Bulldog football.”

Milan principal Jennifer Yates added, “Milan High School is thrilled to have hired someone of Coach Wade Comer’s caliber to lead our football program. Having worked with him for 18 years at McKenzie, I know first hand his work ethic and level of commitment to building a championship program. We look forward to welcoming Wade and his family to Milan.”

Comer replaces Derek Carr, who left to take the head coaching job at Lexington two weeks ago.

“Man, it feels great to be a Bulldog!,” Comer said via press release. “I have always admired this program from afar. The only word I can use to describe this feeling is grateful. I want to personally thank (Milan superintendent) Jonathan Criswell, (Milan principal) Jennifer Yates, and (Milan athletic director) Shane DePriest for giving me this incredible opportunity. There has been a shared vision throughout this process, and I thank you. This place is special, and we have been welcomed with open arms. I appreciate your faith in me, and I promise to repay that faith with sweat in the bucket.”

Comer considers Milan a dream job.

“I grew up in West Tennessee my whole life,” Comer said. “I remember back in the day going to to watch Milan in the playoffs when Coach (John) Tucker was there, and then the early years of Coach (Jeff) Morris. And Milan is the standard in West Tennessee football. It has always been a goal of mine, if I could ever get the opportunity.”

Comer has been the head coach at McKenzie for the past 24 seasons and built a 209-90 record during his time with the Rebels – a 0.699 winning percentage.

Comer has led McKenzie to the Class 1A state championship game each of the last three seasons with a state title in 2022. He also led the Rebels to the state championship game in 2007.

During his tenure, the Rebels have reached the state semifinals nine times and reached the state quarterfinals four other times.

“Our staff will operate with a lunch-pail mentality,” Comer said. “We will be relentless in our pursuit of excellence, and we will be built on what we do, not what we say. I was fortunate in my career as a coach at McKenzie High School. I want to give a special thanks to the McKenzie Board of Education for giving me an opportunity to be their head coach for the past 24 years. More importantly, I want to thank my former players. They are a huge reason I am standing here today. It is no secret they provided great opportunities throughout my career.

“I have been blessed to coach phenomenal players throughout the years. For me, it has always been about the players. They are the only thing that matters. The players make the thing tick, and I want every one of them to know I love you and I’ll be here for you forever and always. Finally, I want to thank my wife Amy, my rock. It is hard to imagine the sacrifices that your family deals with within the coaching world.”

McKenzie has only had four losing seasons during his 24 seasons in charge.

McKenzie went 13-2 last season and lost to a stacked South Pittsburg team in the state championship game. The Rebels outscored their opponents 527-183 during the season.

Milan is three years removed from a run to the Class 3A state championship game, and that is a spot that Comer wants to get this program back to.

“That is the standard in Milan, and I am not going to Milan not to try and play for a state championship,” Comer said. “You should be able to be in a position to compete for a state championship. That is the expectation there with the players and the fans. And the community and administration give you the resources to do that.”

Comer has not had a chance to meet the Milan players yet, but that is something that he wants to do as soon as McKenzie and Milan can work the logistics out.

Milan has been through spring training as McKenzie and Milan ended spring training with a scrimmage the day that Carr resigned, so now Comer will start looking toward June and the start of summer workouts.

“We have to focus on the process,” Comer said. “We can talk about championships. We as a coaching staff and players know what the standard is, and that is what we have to focus on day by and every rep. We have to get bigger, stronger and faster and walk out being a better athlete every day. We have to develop that mental toughness and get that mindset.”

Comer will be the fourth coach at Milan in the last seven seasons as Teddy Pettigrew, Carl Diffee and Carr each spent two seasons in charge before leaving after Jeff Morris was head coach for 22 years.

Milan went 9-3 last season, finishing third in Region 6-2A and reaching the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Huntingdon.

“I want to be clear; my job here is to build a winner,” Comer said. “This is not going to be a one-hit wonder. We must build this the right way. It takes every single one of us. This program is staged to compete and win championships. We will not shy away from expectations. We are going to be methodical in our approach. We are going to focus on the process. We are going to compete to a standard every day, the Milan Standard.

“We will build on the foundation that has already been established here and will create those championship teams. Equally as important as creating championship teams, we are going to create championship fathers, husbands, and men that Milan will be proud of.”

Comer was not ready to discuss assistant coaches as of yet, but we recognizes he needs a strong staff behind him.

“I am not a one-man show,” Comer said. “I am going to put together a staff, and Milan is 100 percent behind its football program, so we are going to assemble the best staff out there.”

1 Comment

  1. Chase Tidwell on March 12, 2024 at 3:50 pm

    I just wanted to say i’m super excited about this!! Go Dawgs!

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