EMORY, Va. – Graham Clark is returning to Emory & Henry.
In an interview Monday evening, E&H head football Curt Newsome confirmed that Clark has been hired as the new offensive coordinator for the Wasps.
“We’re very fortunate to have someone the caliber of Coach Clark join our staff,” Newsome said. “Graham played football at Emory Henry and he’s been supportive of our program. We’re talking about a great leader of men and a student of the game.”
A 1973 graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee, Clark compiled an overall record of 271-74 as a high school coach. He posted a 19-3 mark at Chilhowie in 1980-81 before becoming an assistant at D-B in 1982.
Clark served as the head coach at D-B from 1993 until his retirement in 2018. He was elected to the Tennessee Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016.
“I actually offered Coach Clark a job here when he was at Dobyns-Bennett but things just didn’t work at that time,” Newsome said.
Clark’s name resurfaced when former offensive coordinator Quintin Hunter accepted a position on the football staff at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. The search for Hunter’s replacement began the day after Hunter left.
“We needed a play-caller as soon as possible,” Newsome said. “Graham has called plays for 35 years and he has developed many talented quarterbacks.”
As for the offensive approach at E&H, Newsome said the Wasps will continue to focus on the Run-Pass-Option.
“Coach Clark ran some of the RPO in his last few years at D-B,” Newsome said. “We might take out a few things on offense and let Coach Clark implement his ideas, but our overall approach will remain the same.”
Record-setting junior Hunter Taylor (Summerville, S.C.) returns at quarterback for the Wasps along with two veterans. Newsome said the Wasps have recruited eight freshmen for the quarterback position.
Clark has already been watching film of the Wasps.
Newsome, who also played football at E&H, said that Clark’s connections to E&H and the region’s football culture is another plus.
“No doubt, we like having Emory people in our program,” Newsome said. “I enjoy being around Graham and I’m sure that our players and fans will have a lot of respect for him.”
In addition to guiding the D-B Indians to 252 wins, 25 playoff berths and seven trips to the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA playoffs, Clark is famed for his colorful quotes and vast knowledge of The Andy Griffith Show. Clark often watched reruns of the iconic series during his lunch hour at D-B.
“Coach Clark is definitely a lot of fun,” Newsome said. “I couldn’t be more excited with the direction of our program.”
Former Methodist University assistant Pete Hansen recently joined the Wasps as defensive line coach.
In another piece of news that has already generated a buzz among E&H fans, former Virginia High School League Class 3 player of the year Grayson Overstreet from Staunton River has joined the Wasps. Overstreet established VHSL career records for rushing yards and touchdowns.
“Grayson is a special athlete, and he’s just as good of a person,” Newsome said. “We think Grayson could become the face of our program.”
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Overstreet collected six tackles while starting twice and playing in four games at linebacker for the University of Richmond last season.
Don’t be surprised if Overstreet sees action at both linebacker and running back for the Wasps.
“That’s our plan right now,” Newsome said. “We will focus on defense for Grayson first, and we might give him the ball in certain situations.”
According to Newsome, Overstreet was drawn to Emory by his friendship with former Staunton River teammate and current E&H player T.J. Tester along with the relationships cultivated by third-year E&H assistant Kamden BeCraft and Virginia Tech strength and conditioning coach Jarrett Ferguson from Staunton River.
Meanwhile, the latest addition at 5,500-seat Fred Selfe Stadium in Emory is a new layer of FieldTurf which spells out the school name in both end zones.
“The field looks better than ever,” Newsome said. “We’ve got a lot of good things happening here.”