Anthony Church is the new head football coach at Hurley High School and he got a ringing endorsement from the guy he’s replacing.

“Anthony has been a great asset to the Hurley football program during his time as an assistant. His character, integrity and work ethic is unmatched,” said Greg Tester, the former coach of the Rebels. “He is a great choice to lead the program. He knows what it takes to be successful.”

A 39-year-old Buchanan County native who was a standout at Grundy High School and later played offensive tackle at Emory & Henry College, Church was the offensive and defensive line coach at Hurley in 2017.

He relies on a simple philosophy.

“Sometimes people try to make football complicated,” Church said. “When it comes down to it, if you can block, if you can tackle and if you can play good special teams, you can win football games. Being able to do that requires teaching fundamentals every day and focusing on player development.”

Tester stepped down after compiling a 73-57 record and making the playoffs in seven of his 12 seasons at the helm.

“I have nothing but respect for Greg Tester. The last 12 years he has given his heart and soul to Hurley football and the Hurley community. He has built one of the best football programs in the state of Virginia,” Church said. “Greg leads by example, he is very passionate about his work and puts his heart in it. He is a great teacher, football coach, role model and father. I’m very excited and honored to follow in his footsteps. My staff and I will do our best to keep the winning tradition at Hurley.”

While Hurley has an enrollment of 176 and is one of the smallest football-playing schools in the Virginia High School League, the Rebels have been consistently competitive.

“The formula for success has already been established at Hurley. It starts with the community. The community support at Hurley is unmatched,” Church said. “They support their football program through the good times and bad times. Along with parents that are willing to give up their time to help raise money and make sure the players get what they need. Then throw in a bunch of tough, hard-working, and respectful young men that lift weights and will do anything you ask. Then add great leadership within the school, and mix it with a coaching staff that eats, breathes, and loves football. Why would anyone change that? That’s Hurley football.”

Hurley went 7-4 this past season and lost in the second round of the Region 1D playoffs to Chilhowie. The Rebels should put another solid team on the field in 2018 with returnees like Taylor Justus, John Hurley, Tyler Young, Coty Justus, Chad Justus, Matthew Blankenship and Matt Young back in the fold.

“We started several sophomores and juniors on offense and defense last year,” Church said. “Offensively, we will be running the Wing-T. Greg has taught every aspect of that offense to the kids and they know it and our personnel is built for it.

“We have three very athletic starting offensive linemen returning, along with several kids that have potential to be playmakers in the backfield. Defensively, we will be a year older and a year stronger. Eight defensive starters will be returning. … The kids have already started weightlifting to prepare for next season.”

thayes@bristolnews.com | Twitter:@Hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570

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