Todd Cassity has always kept an eye on Chelsea High School’s football program.
Cassity’s wife works at Shelby County Schools and has had several friends who have coached at Chelsea over the years, including Dustin Goodwin, who has been Chelsea’s head coach for the past four seasons.
Cassity will now join that list having been approved as Chelsea’s new head football manager in April. He takes over for Goodwin, who has taken a position at Thompson High.
He believes the Chelsea program has long had “a lot of potential”.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to apply,” Cassity said. “I came here and met with (Rector) Dr. (Brandon) Turner and felt like it was a good fit for me, my family and the school.”
Cassity spent the last seven years at JB Pennington turning a dying program around. Prior to his arrival, Pennington had won a total of nine games in five years. After a 2-8 season in his freshman season, Cassity led Pennington to the state playoffs for six straight years, including a nine-win season and two eight-win campaigns.
“It was a great place,” he said.
Cassity began his coaching career in Maplesville before moving to Demopolis, where his teams reached the semifinals twice and won a state championship in three years as an assistant coach. He was Gordo’s head coach from 2005-2006 and also took that program to the playoffs in both years.
In 2007, he joined Pleasant Grove, where he served as Jim Elgin’s offensive coordinator for eight years.
Over the years, Cassity said his coaching philosophies have evolved on and off the field.
“My job is more about building up guys with high character and looking after them from a personal rather than a football point of view. That’s what I was really told to do better, to develop really good young men. If you do that, those gains and losses will eventually take care of themselves,” he said.
On the field, Cassity wants his team to be the attacker on the line of scrimmage.
“We want a football team that is very physical up front,” he said. “The way I’ve always started, we’re going to be very physical in the running game. However we have to do it, we will do it.”
Chelsea have not had a winning season since 2016, but have twice qualified for the state playoffs under Goodwin. Last fall, the Hornets bounced back from an 0-4 start and won four straight games, enough to propel them into the postseason in a troubled region.
To make matters worse, Chelsea are moving up to Class 7A next school year, meaning the Hornets will now be tasked with competing in Region 3, arguably the toughest of any classification statewide. The region features three-time title holders Thompson, Hoover and other strong programs in the greater Birmingham area.
Cassity won’t use that or anything else as an excuse, though. He estimated around 110 eighth to eleventh graders worked in the program in his first few weeks on the job and expects to build a winner at Chelsea.
“I love what we’ve been working with,” he said. “We have some good pieces here. We have to develop our own identity and that is the biggest thing.”