“I haven’t got to move here yet, but I’ve been here in Lee County since the last of May,” Haston said during the Generals’ media day. “The big thing is I’ve got to meet a lot of great people. We started school this week, so I got to meet my students and kind of go from there.”
Hired in the spring, Haston replaced Jeremy Pendergraft, who coached the program to a 2-8 record last season.
Haston worked as an assistant coach at Cumberland County in Crossville from 2013 until accepting the position at Lee. An offensive lineman at Tennessee in 2004 before transferring to Tennessee Tech, he’s the Generals’ fifth coach in the past decade.
Despite having no local ties to the county or the program, Haston said he’s acclimated pretty well.
“It feels like it’s been forever since the end of May when we got started on this,” he said. “I feel like we’ve had time to get things going. So it’s been pretty positive so far.”
Haston was able to work with his players during the spring and summer.
“We’ve got to spend a lot of time together this summer, in the weight room, on the practice field,” he said. “So we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well right now.”
Despite such familiarity, the new coach remains undecided about who will be playing where this fall — and reveals he has a veteran head coach’s attitude to boot.
“Right now, I keep telling them almost every day that we don’t have any starters yet,” Haston said. “We don’t have any returning starters. Next year we won’t have any returning starters.
“We’ve got 11 open spots on offense. We’ve got 11 open spots on defense. We’ve got 11 open spots on every special team.”
Still, several players have made an impression on the coaching staff.
Seniors Noah Sage and Colee Cotrell stand out on an impressive offensive line, as do juniors Jared Wynn, Luke Estes and Hunter Jackson.
“I really expect very big things from the sophomore and junior level on the offensive and defensive lines,” Haston added.
In the backfield, juniors Nick Napier and Zane Eisenmenger, seniors Alex Lowery and Bryce Clark, and sophomores Dustin Regan, Trent Baker and Brennon Ely should see playing time.
Sophomore Tanner Laster moves into the quarterback position with seniors Hunter Parkey and Justice Fannon at wide receiver.
Sage on the line and Cotrell at linebacker are two of the main defensive cogs.
Haston’s Generals face a tough test in their season opener at home against Union on Aug. 30.
Aug. 30 Union
Sept. 13 J.I. Burton
Sept. 20 Patrick Henry
Sept. 27 at Ridgeview
Oct. 4 Perry Central, Ky.
Oct. 11 at Cumberland Gap
Oct. 18 at Gate City
Oct. 25 at Wise Central
Nov. 1 John Battle
Nov. 8 Abingdon