By Erik Harris
JEFFERSON COUNTY – As a teenager at Huffman High School in 1983, David Partridge was faced with some obstacles.
His father Jerry, who also doubled as his head football coach, decided to transition the Vikings’ offense from the I formation to the veer, which put his signal caller in a state of transition.
Jerry’s quarterback, standing at 5-foot-6, was returning for his second year as a starter, and to Jerry, his name was Son.
Young Partridge handled his circumstances quite well, quarterbacking Huffman to a nine-win season, which included an upset of top-ranked Tuscaloosa Central in the first round of the state playoffs. The senior led the sharpest offensive unit his program had seen in years.
“That was the offense that we needed to be running to give us a chance to succeed,” Partridge said. “It was a good fit for me running the option offense. I liked that offense, at that time, a lot better than when I was running the I.”
The Vikings eventually fell in the quarterfinals to Woodlawn, but Partridge did exactly what his father asked of him that season – handle change. If he handles his next transition like he did 32 years ago, the Shades Valley football program is bound for success under its new head coach.
Partridge believes the lessons he learned in the fall of 1983 can still help him today as he takes over a talented Mounties’ roster.
“I think all experiences that you go through will help you get to this point,” he said.
Partridge was approved for the position by the Jefferson County Board of Education on Thursday night. It’s the 49-year-old’s first head coaching job.
Despite being a high school quarterback, much of his coaching experience has come on the defensive side of the ball. He served as defensive coordinator under head coach Hal Riddle for 10 years at Hewitt-Trussville.
The first-year head coach has also played the role of offensive coordinator and pretty much everything in between. Partridge said he’s coached every position on the field during his 30-year run on the sideline. He got his coaching career started at the age of 19 when he worked under his dad at Huffman.
“There’s a lot of people that step into a head coaching job that definitely don’t have that advantage of having to coach every position, having to be a coordinator on both sides; that’s definitely going to give me (an advantage),” Partridge said.
There’s also not many coaches that take their first head coaching job at a Class 6A program in the heart of football country after sitting the previous season out.
After Josh Floyd took the Hewitt-Trussville job last May, he opted to bring in his own coordinators, and Partridge decided to hang up his whistle for 2014. He only taught Hewitt-Trussville students in the classroom this fall, not on the field.
“It was a good experience, it gave me a chance to recharge, I had some opportunities to go and coach at some other places and just decided to take the year off,” Partridge said. “It was kind of a family decision.”
A former Huffman teammate and fellow 1984 graduate described Partridge as “a great decision maker.” From deciding rather or not to give or keep the ball all the way to a state quarterfinals berth in 1983, to deciding if he should stay and not coach at Hewitt-Trussville in 2014, the longtime coach has a history of choosing correctly, and that bodes well for Shades Valley.
The Mounties’ head coaching position opened when former head coach Bill Smith resigned at the end of last season.
Riddle said this is a “great opportunity for a guy that has more than paid his dues.”
“David has a wealth of knowledge and experience, but his outlook and philosophy on high school sports may be his biggest asset,” Riddle said. “He wants them to enjoy what they are doing and have fun playing football and any other sports they play. I’m looking forward to seeing the Mounties play in 2015.”
Gary Lloyd contributed to this story.