Former Alabama Christian standout Ethan McBride will become the new defensive coordinator at Montgomery Academy, taking the place of Jacob King, head coach Robert Johnson announced.
McBride had recently taken a job at Helena High, but resigned from his position as soon as he was offered a job coaching the Eagles’ defense.
“I’m from Montgomery and my wife’s from Dothan,” McBride explained, “so this kind of moves us closer to family. Anybody that’s been through all the stuff that’s happened the last six months, you kind of re-prioritize and realize how important it is to be close to your family.”
He grew up around Montgomery Academy football, serving as a manager for the Eagles while his father Gene was a volunteer assistant for John Tatum. After graduating from Alabama Christian, he attended the University of Alabama, where he offered in his spare time to serve as a community coach for Johnson’s Tuscaloosa Academy team.
“Ethan worked with me for six years at Tuscaloosa Academy and handled DBs and receivers,” Johnson said. “Then he got married and got a job at Childersburg. Then he went to Shades Valley and Shades Valley had one of the best defenses in the state.”
McBride said his defense will create a different look for MA this fall, but with six of the seven starters at linebacker and secondary graduated, all of the players will be starting with the same foundation.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he said. “The blessing is that we’ve got a group that doesn’t have a lot of stuff that they’ve already known prior (in relation to schemes and alignments), so it’s pretty easy to put in our new plan.
“We’ll be more multiple. We need to fit our personnel. We’ve got a great D-line so we’ll matchup what fits our strengths.”
Johnson said McBride is a good fit for the MA defense because the pair share a similar philosophy.
“If it was somebody I wasn’t as familiar with, it would be a little more of what I wanted to do (on defense),” Johnson said. “But with him, he’s already got his package together. He’s seen what we did at TA and we played good defense there. He’s got a great package and that’s what we’re going to run.”
McBride has worked for four different head coaches as an assistant, but his versatility and perspective was shaped in high school as well, where he played for Dirk Strunk as a freshman, Gregg Baker as a sophomore and junior and Kenny Simpson as a senior.
“Nobody wants to go through three coaches in four years but you end up learning a lot of football,” said the 2009 ACA graduate. “It’s a different perspective, but it’s still valuable in its own way.”
In 2017, he left Tuscaloosa Academy and moved to the Birmingham area, taking a job coaching linebackers and quarterbacks at Childersburg High. A year later, he accepted a position at Shades Valley, where he coached defensive backs for two years. This past spring, he worked at Helena as the quarterbacks coach.
“While that’s not technically on purpose, I wanted to see different sized schools,” he said. “I came from ACA, a mid-sized private school, and TA was similar, so I wanted to see other schools. Seeing a 4A public school (Childersburg) and a 6A public school (Shades Valley) was valuable. Obviously, Coach Johnson is who I learned defense under, so you’d be crazy not to think that a lot of the stuff that I like is from him.
“At Shades Valley, I had a great head coach who had been a defensive coordinator for a long time and also a defensive coordinator who is his son and we created a defense there that fit who we faced. That region was kind of a region of death with Pinson Valley and Oxford and Clay-Chalkville. The last four state champs were in our region. So when you face that kind of talent week in and week out, your defense has to be multiple and able to match up with teams that maybe have a little better personnel than you do.”
In addition to announcing McBride’s hire, Johnson also announced the hiring of former MA girls’ basketball coach Glenn Sylvest as the junior varsity boy’s basketball coach.
“I coached Glenn,” Johnson said. “As a player, he was a great player and as a coach, he’s had great success coaching the girls’ team. His schedule allows him to work more on the JV level than at the varsity level so that’s how we’re going to use him. I’m tickled to get him.”
Sylvest is the regional director of business development for Empirian Health, an organization that helps nursing facilities manage their pharmacy costs. His son Bobby will be in kindergarten at MA this fall.
“With my son going back, I wanted to slowly get back into it and the JV schedule worked the best with my work schedule,” Sylvest said. “If I’m available, I certainly wouldn’t mind helping those (varsity) guys.”
The 1998 Hitchcock Award winner and former MA standout started coaching at Montgomery Academy in 2000 and left in 2013 for Brookstone School in Columbus, Ga., coaching there for four years. He returned to Montgomery in 2017.