Shane Wicks gets first chance as head coach at Honaker

Shane Wicks graduated from Richlands High School in 2008 and made a name for himself on the football field as a hard-hitting defensive end and linebacker who became the regional defensive player of the year and a member of a state championship team during his time as a tackling terror for the Blue Tornados. But Richlands isn't the only place in Southwest Virginia that's notable for its involvement in sports.

“I have roots in Honaker,” Wicks said. “My kids go to school here, I grew up here and spent my early years playing football in Honaker until my family moved to Richlands. I grew up watching Honaker on Friday nights. I can still remember watching them play in the state championship game on a frigid December day in 2000. I broke my first bone on [Fuller Field] I returned a kick my sophomore year of high school and if I'm not mistaken, I even caught the first offensive touchdown on that field when they got the turf [in 2007].”

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Wicks, 34, will also get his first chance as a head coach in Honaker after being named the Tigers' new head coach by the Russell County School Board on Tuesday night.

He served as offensive coordinator for the past two seasons.

The hiring came after Todd Tiller was fired after two seasons at the helm of Honaker's program due to legal troubles that saw him charged with drunken driving, vandalism and simple assault last month, according to Virginia state police records.

Under these special circumstances, the appointment of Wicks provides some continuity as the coaching staff remains unchanged.

“I think it's a huge advantage for our program that the kids are familiar with our personnel,” Wicks said. “We know the kids, they know us. They know how we want to play. We're in a great position because everyone from the coaches to the players are on the same page.”

While he was a star on defense in high school (his hit on a Hidden Valley punt returner in a 2006 state championship semifinal game was widely viewed on YouTube) and later at the college level, where he played at both Emory & Henry College and the University of Virginia's College at Wise, Wicks flourished as an offensive coordinator at Honaker. Implementing the Air Raid offense last season, the Tigers averaged 43.9 points per game.

“We are very pleased that Coach Wicks has been promoted to head coach of our school,” said Tony Bush, principal of Honaker School. “He has proven himself to be a solid offensive coordinator for our team over the past two years. His previous playing experience at the high school and college levels under some great coaches has given him a knowledge base of the game and the leadership skills needed to be a good coach. Coach Wicks is a student of the game who encourages self-improvement and gives 100 percent in everything. He is committed to putting in the time and work necessary to make football a fun and rewarding experience for our players.”

Honaker must replace several talented seniors who left a team that went 13-1 last season and won the VHSL Region 1D championship. Quarterback Peyton Musick (3,626 passing yards, 50 touchdowns, five interceptions; 382 rushing yards, eight TDs) and wide receiver Avery Musick – the two are siblings – are the Tigers' best returners.

“Our kids have worked extremely hard in the offseason,” Wicks said. “We have a great coaching staff that does a great job of keeping the kids focused and working as a team toward our goals.”

Wicks does not teach at Honaker because he works as a foreman at the construction company Cleco Corporation, based in Rosedale, Virginia.

“I always wanted to be a head coach,” Wicks said. “I had some other opportunities come my way and I knew I could be a head coach when the time was right. I prayed really hard in some situations, but it just wasn't the plan that God had for me at the time. I truly believe that God has a plan that surpasses anything we can plan for ourselves. I believe that seeking His wisdom and guidance has helped me end up where I am now.”

Honaker opens the season on August 29th against rival Lebanon in the Coal Bowl. Lebanon also has a head coach in Hunter Norris, who is in his first year this year.

“I look forward to continuing to build on the strong tradition of Honaker football,” Wicks said. “I am very humbled and excited to embark on this journey.”