Aiken High has been searching for the answer to how to revive the football program, and it's hoping former Irmo assistant J.W. Montgomery's new-school-meets-old-school approach is the answer for years to come.
Montgomery was introduced as the new head football coach at Aiken High School during a press conference held at the school Wednesday afternoon.
"I just saw a bunch of good athletes and a lot of potential. It just takes a little bit of extra coaching, a little bit more discipline, building a little bit more strength-wise," Montgomery said of the opportunity at Aiken. "The speed, athleticism and size, they have it. We've just got to get in here and put our heads together and make sure we've got them in the right position so they can be successful."
Montgomery's most recent coaching stop was at Irmo High school, where he was the offensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets. He previously served the same role at Dutch Fork High School, as well. He also spent some time as the head coach of Lower Richland's football program.
Aiken athletic director Carey Johnson said Montgomery's time at schools which turned football programs into contenders is something that made him the right fit for the Hornets.
"His pedigree speaks for itself. He's been to quite a few places, and every place he's been he's helped that place bring the program back," Johnson said. "He's someone that we thought we needed here to help revive this program. I think we got a great pick."
A committee of 10 people made up of school officials and members of the community unanimously selected Montgomery for the job.
Montgomery replaces Brian Neal, who coached the Hornets for four seasons before stepping down after the 2016 season to find a position closer to his home. Neal went 12-30 during his tenure leading the Hornets. He got the Hornets back to the playoffs in 2015.
Aiken is coming off a season in which it went 3-7 and lost in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
Montgomery said he's preaching hard work, discipline and hard-nosed football to the players as the recipe to get Aiken football back to the level of prominence it once had.
Since he was hired so late in the year, Aiken will miss out on Spring football, but Montgomery plans to hit the ground running.
"As soon as school's out, we're going to start right up; and we're going to rock and roll," Montgomery said. "We're going to practice and lift and condition everyday. We'll take our time and install and do what we need to do to be ready for the season."
Montgomery has a master's in education in sports administration and a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. He also served as a math teacher and assistant boys' golf coach at Irmo High School. He will teach math at Aiken High, as well.