Smithfield ATH Jaquan Williams poses after a big play in 2019 (Photo: Danny Haymond/recruit757)
Smithfield HS has announced the promotion of DeVondre Bazemore to head football coach
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
The COVID-19 lock down has made it a very interesting environment for hiring a football coach, and an even more interesting environment for a new coach to command a football program.
Smithfield High School has managed to navigate those waters by promoting from within.
Assistant Coach DeVondre Bazemore has been promoted to head coach.
“Smithfield is a great place to build great football because of the location and the community,” Bazemore said. “I earned it. I’m prepared. I approach everyday like its an interview. I learned from some of the beat coaches around here either directly or indirectly.”
Bazemore was the defensive coordinator for last year’s Smithfield team under then head coach Mike Newhall. Prior to that, Bazemore was on staff at Wilson under head coach Dominic Grooms. Coach Bazemore is already familiar with the personnel at Smithfield and the athletes are certainly familiar with him.
“We’ve been in constant communication with the kids and it kind of gives them a sense of security. They’ve been through a lot of change in the last couple of years. We’ve had a lot of change in our school, in our school system and it athletics at Smithfield,” said the coach. “We’re going to believe in each other. We’re going to support each other. You’ll see passion, excitement and a family atmosphere at Smithfield.”
Smithfield is known for being athletic with speed being a big feature. That’s typically a contrast to many of the other teams in the Bay Rivers District where the coaches have been long tenured, the play calling is generally conservative and fundamental discipline has been held as the top priority. Lafayette, York and Poquoson will give you few opportunities to beat them and those programs have shown a tendency to wear other teams down. It’s not quite three yards and a cloud of dust, but the top programs in the BRD are happy to beat you by pounding an opposing defense.
“I’ve always been a defensive guy. Being a defensive guy, I’ve spent a lot of time studying offense. I have coordinators who I’ll let coach. We’ll run a spread. Dominic Grooms will be our offensive coordinator. We’ll have some other familiar faces on staff,” Bazemore explained. “We’re going to give the ball to our best athletes in space. As far as defense, we’re going to fly around and be relentless. We’re going to get to the ball. We did that last year and we’re going to take it to another level this year.”
Bazemore played his high school ball at Churchland and graduated less than ten years ago. He knows the game and he can identify with the student-athletes. He also knows the dynamics of playing in the 757.
“We’re going to be significantly different than the rest of the Bay Rivers. In the Bay Rivers, you’ll see a lot of Wing-T; a lot of run, run, run, run. Downhill running, buck sweep… With us, you’re going to see a lot more Southeastern District (style). We’re not going to throw 100 passes, but you’ll see that type of tempo and that type of game play. You’ll see some swag with Smithfield football. Fans are going to love it. I want to see the community involved with Smithfield Football. Let’s return it to the glory days where the stadium is packed out and you have to get there early on a Friday night. That’s what I want to bring back to Smithfield.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the Joseph Luter, Jr. Sports Complex was the place to be on Friday nights. In 2017, the Packers were 8-2 in the regular season after losing to Dinwiddie and Lafayette to open that campaign. Smithfield got a home game against Lake Taylor and knocked off the Titans in a 15-8 defensive battle. The Packers fell to neighboring King’s Fork in the second round of the 2017 Region 4A playoffs, but those days aren’t far away in the rear view mirror.
– Andy Hilton