High School Sports

Hopgood: Reuniting with Gaudin at Hancock 'best move for me and my family'

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 Jeff Hopgood has decided to join his former head coach, Rocky Gaudin, at Hancock High. He spent the last 12 years at Bay High and took over as head coach in 2009.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Jeff Hopgood has decided to join his former head coach, Rocky Gaudin, at Hancock High. He spent the last 12 years at Bay High and took over as head coach in 2009. SUN HERALD

Jeff Hopgood and Rocky Gaudin summed up Hancock's latest coaching hire with the same theme: It's all about family.

For Hopgood, the move from being Bay High's head coach to Hancock's assistant made the most sense to him considering his wife works in the HHS district and his kids are in the Hawks' system.

For Gaudin, Hancock's long-time coach who has been back with the Hawks since 2011, bringing in Hopgood as an offensive assistant will be like reuniting with family.

"Jeff and I have always been really really close," Gaudin said Wednesday. "It's more than a coaching relationship; he's almost like a son to me."

Hopgood was a standout along the offensive and defensive lines at Bay High under Gaudin in the early 1990s and then got his first coaching gig at HHS under his former coach in 2001.

"We've remained close over the years," Hopgood said. "He had an opening and it was just the right move for me and my family."

In talking about the change, Gaudin said he thinks those outside of the program have perhaps read too much into it.

"It's real simple. The man is just burned out. He started as a young coach," Gaudin said of Hopgood, who was promoted from assistant to head coach at Bay High in 2009. "He's a player's coach. The kids love him. When you get to be a head coach, you don't get as much hands-on with your kids.

"When you're a head coach as long as I've been one, you're not really coaching. You're managing coaches and he wants to actually coach kids."

Added Hopgood: "I'm just excited about going into a new role and being able to help wherever I can with the Hancock staff and school. I'm excited for a new challenge."

Looking back

Reflecting on his time at Bay High, Hopgood wanted to thank the faculty, staff, players and booster club members "for everything they've done."

Hopgood, who leaves his alma mater with a 35-38 overall record, said his team's 10-win campaign and march to the third round of the playoffs in 2012 will always stick with him.

"That was a remarkable year making the deep year," he said. "Probably the best team in school history."

Hopgood said his days as an assistant at Bay High in the months after Katrina, as difficult as they were, produced some of his fondest memories.

"Just to see those kids after the storm, we had about 19 kids and were one or two plays away from winning the region championship," he said.

No. 5

The vacancy at Bay marks the fifth on the Coast this year.

Taylorsville's Matt Caldwell was recently hired at George County, while D'Iberville, West Harrison and Stone are all currently vacant.

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