Loyal fired as Trinity's football coach

Barry Loyal went 15-18 in three years as the Wildcats' head football coach, reaching the state playoffs in 2018 and 2019.

He’s taken a step forward in each of his three seasons at Trinity, but apparently that level of improvement wasn’t fast enough.

Trinity head football coach Barry Loyal was notified on Monday by school administrators that he will not be retained at the end of the year, ending a three-year tenure for the Wildcat alumnus.

Loyal declined to comment immediately, while athletic director Jessica Lassiter elected to rely on the statement released by the school.

“Trinity Presbyterian School announces today that Head Football Coach Barry Loyal will not be returning to the School for the 2020-2021 school year,” the statement read. “Coach Loyal has faithfully served Trinity Presbyterian School for the last 3 years.

‘“We are very grateful for his leadership and commitment to the Trinity football program and wish him well,” said Director of Athletics Jessica Lassiter. Coach Loyal will continue in his role as a P.E. teacher and J.V. Baseball Coach through this spring. The search for the Wildcats’ next head coach begins immediately.”

Loyal was hired in April, 2017, to follow Hall of Fame coach Randy Ragsdale after a 3-7 season in 2016. Loyal showed moderate improvement in 2017 (4-6) and 2018 (5-7) before the Wildcats finished with a 6-5 season this past year and as region runner-up to Catholic.

The Wildcats reached the second round of the state playoffs in 2018 before losing to eventual state champion UMS-Wright and made it to the first round in 2019 before losing to semifinalist Andalusia. Loyal finished as the runner-up in balloting for the Capital City Conference coach of the year, a testament to his fellow CCC coaches’ respect for the team’s performance in 2019.

Lassiter said a search committee of administrators and alumni will be formed to conduct a search for the next Trinity football coach.

“Coach Loyal is going to try and help that transition be as seamless as possible,” Lassiter said. “And he is still honoring his contract with the school and fulfilling his duties through the end of the school year. Obviously, we want it to be a thorough task but swift at the same time. That process will begin immediately.”

Loyal is a 1985 graduate of Trinity and was hired by Ragsdale in 1995 to serve as a junior varsity assistant coach. After being elevated in 1997 to head coach of the junior varsity team, Loyal left the following year to become the offensive coordinator at Carroll High in Ozark. In his two years as an assistant under Butch Caldwell, the Eagles were 10-11 and known for their offensive ability.

He returned to Trinity in 2000, this time as the offensive coordinator, and helped the program through its most successful stretch in school history. Over the next five years, Trinity would reach the quarterfinals or better in every season, rolling off 45 consecutive regular-season wins between a late-season loss to Tallassee in 2000 and an early-season loss to W.S. Neal in 2005.

The Wildcats were 11-3 in 2000, 12-1 in 2001 and 2002 and won the 4A state championship in 2003 with a 15-0 record. They were 12-1 in 2004 and 7-4 in 2005 before Loyal was named head coach at Chattanooga (Tenn.) Christian School.

At CCS, he started the football program in 2006 with a junior varsity program and made the move to varsity in 2009. His teams went 1-9, 4-6, 3-7, 2-8 and 3-7 before he stepped down to become an assistant coach at nearby Signal Mountain High, where he served as receivers coach in 2014 and defensive coordinator in 2015 and 2016.