Clements accepts challenge at Corner

First-time head coach spent last seven years as offensive coordinator

By JOHNATHAN BENTLEY, Eagle Sports Editor
Posted 2/10/18

CORNER — Twelve playoff appearances — one playoff win.

That’s the history that new Corner High School football coach Jon Clements inherits.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

Clements accepts challenge at Corner

First-time head coach spent last seven years as offensive coordinator

Posted

CORNER — Twelve playoff appearances — one playoff win.

That’s the history that new Corner High School football coach Jon Clements inherits.

Despite the program’s mediocre past, Clements, who served as the offensive coordinator for Class 6A power Clay-Chalkville last season, sees his first head coaching job as a golden opportunity.

“There are some really good things already in place here,” Clements, 33, said. “There are great kids and great facilities. I did a little research. They always seem to be a game or two away from making something really special happen.”

Corner has made the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in Class 5A, Region 6 each of the last two seasons, losing in the first round both years.

Clements replaces Zac Willis, who went 28-35 in six years at his alma mater.

Clements first heard of the Corner job opening through Yellow Jacket baseball coach Josh Hoyle. The two were teammates on the Jacksonville State baseball team and have been friends since.

“Josh told me about the job and I looked into it. It’s amazing how things work out,” Clements said. “I got phone calls from people whose word I trust. I called a bunch of other guys and they said the same thing — (Corner) is kind of a hidden gem that hasn’t been tapped into yet. I’m not saying I’m the guy who can do it, but we are going to give it a try. There are jobs you walk into where you just have to make sure there is gas in the tank. This isn’t one of those jobs. You have to put your own spin on it. I’m excited about that.”

In his one season at Clay-Chalkville, the Cougars finished 11-3 and advanced to the state semifinals, losing to eventual state champ Pinson Valley on the road. Two of their three losses came to Pinson Valley. Prior to his time at Clay-Chalkville, Clements spent three years as the offensive coordinator at both Charles Henderson and Pinson Valley.

Corner finished 5-6 in 2017, losing to Mae Jemison in the first round of the playoffs. The Yellow Jackets’ lone playoff win came in 2006.

“This is one of those places that’s never really been able to get over the hump, but outside of about 15 or 20 schools in the state, everybody else in the same boat. It’s whoever gets the ball to bounce their way. This year at Clay, we probably weren’t as explosive as we have been in the past. We really squeezed the limit and got everything we could out of them. I want to do that here,” Clements said.

“I want to compete in every game we play, and we will deserve to compete in every game we play because we will be prepared. We will be ready to go, the coaches and the players. Does that mean we are going to win? I don’t know. What I do know is that we will be prepared.”

Corner will compete in a revamped Class 5A, Region 7 this season, along with Dora, Jasper, Hamilton, Hayden, Lawrence County, Russellville and West Point.

“We’re going to be in a challenging region. To be honest, I don’t look into it. I’ve got 85 guys I have to worry about,” said Clements, who also has been able to sit down with his predecessor. “I got to talk to coach Willis the other day. He came in here and really helped me. A lot of guys wouldn’t do that. He did a great job here. I really appreciate him doing that. He made me feel at ease a little bit about coming to a new place.”

Clements graduated from Jemison High School in 2003 and from Jacksonville State in 2008, getting his masters from the school in 2009.

Initially, Clements had his sights set on coaching on the baseball diamond, but ventured over to the gridiron instead.

“When I graduated, I wanted to be a baseball coach, but I got into football and fell in love with it. This game teaches you things that nothing else teaches you. You have to be part of a team. You have to know your role. It’s physical and mental. You have to get 85 guys to be part of something. That’s hard to do. There’s not as much an opportunity to learn from your mistakes as much as there is in football,” he said.