RUSSELLVILLE, Ky. (WBKO)-- Russellville High School knew they had big shoes to fill when John Myers stepped down as the head football coach after winning 118 games and two regional championships in 14 seasons.
They didn't have to go very far to find the new coach, and they chose someone incredibly familiar with the program, as the school hired former standout player Mikie Benton to lead the Panthers.
"Now that I get to be the guy to put my own handprint on it---very excited," Benton said about being the new coach.
Benton is a 2008 graduate of Russellville where he was a multi-sport athlete. An all-state defensive back who played in the 2007 KY All-Star Game and played collegiately at the University of Kentucky, graduating from the Wildcats in 2012.
All throughout his time in Lexington, he kept a close eye on his hometown team, so after college, he returned home spending five seasons as an assistant coach under Myers and this previous season was the defensive coordinator and gives a lot of credit to his former coach.
"Without coach Myers, he's the one that got me into coaching," Benton said. "Whenever I moved back and the old pro football dream died, the next thing was me coming out here and he just got me into coaching.
"Started just coming a few days, the next thing you know I'm at every game, at every practice and from there it's history. Of course, grateful for his as well."
Benton is the schools' first-ever alum to be the head coach and only the fourth coach since 1976 and the administration feels there's no one better to keep this program to a high level.
"He cares about our kids," Russellville Athletic Director Kyle Yates said about the new coach. "He's from here so he knows what our kids go through. And he wants to get them to a level where they can prosper here and prosper in life."
"You're going to have a guy on the sidelines that know what this program means to everyone---the community, the players and to be able to instill that in mind and let them know what it means just to add another driving force."