By Joshua Huff, sports editor
PINSON — A new face is set to take over the Pinson Valley football team as the Indians announced that Sam Shade will be handed the reigns of the two-time Class 6A state champions.
Shade will take over for the departed Patrick Nix, who informed the team in mid-January that he was leaving for the head coach position at Central-Phenix City High School.
Shade was most recently affiliated with the Cleveland Browns as a special teams assistant under coordinator Amos Jones. He was let go on Jan. 9, 2019, after the Browns selected Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach. Shade was first hired by former Browns head coach Hue Jackson.
In his 14-year career on the sidelines, Shade has coached at the college and high school levels with stops as a volunteer coach at Briarwood Christian School, as a secondary coach, a special teams and a defensive pass game coordinator at Samford and as a defensive backs coach at Georgia State.
Prior to the start of his coaching career, Shade played college football at the University of Alabama where he was a member of the 1992 national championship Crimson Tide football team. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Shade appeared in 117 games for both Cincinnati (1995-98) and the Washington Redskins (1999-02). He retired following the 2002 season.
Shade led the Redskins in tackles twice. He did not miss a game between 1997 and 2001. During that span, he recorded 370 solo tackles.
Throughout his NFL career, Shade played under defensive coordinator’s Dick LeBeau, Mike Nolan, Ray Rhodes and Marvin Lewis.
According to a Bleacher Report story in 2012, Shade returned to Birmingham following his playing days. A friend then persuaded him to volunteer to coach at a middle school, which set into motion his eventual coaching career.
“I never saw myself coaching, if you can believe that,” Shade told the outlet. “I wasn’t a guy that went to college and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be a schoolteacher/football coach.’ I just get a lot of satisfaction out of being a service to these kids. This is my calling. This is what God wants me to do, is coach kids, and it’s not just about the football part.”
Shade now replaces Nix, who returned the Indians to the forefront of Alabama high school state football during his time in Central Alabama. In his three years at Pinson Valley, Nix led the Indians to back-to-back Class 6A state championships in 2017 and 2018 and the semifinals this past season. He concluded his tenure with the Indians with a 38-4 record.
The move for Nix to Phenix City brought his family closer to Auburn University, where his son, Bo, is a sophomore starting quarterback.
The Indians enter this offseason following the departures of a sizable number of players who helped return Pinson Valley to the summit of Class 6A. Shade, however, can welcome the return of five-star defensive back Ga’Quincy Mckinstry, who helped helm a defense that pitched three shutouts, limited four opponents to seven points or less and held 10 opponents to less than 14 points per game this past season.
Pinson Valley concluded this past season with a 10-3 record. The Indians dropped a heartbreaker in the semifinals to eventual Class 6A state champion Oxford.