Joe Hollis Jr. first heard stories about North Jackson football from the program’s first coach, Phillip Lolley, when both were working with the Auburn University football program from 2001-07.
Little did Hollis know back then that, like Lolley, he too would one day lead the North Jackson football program.
Hollis has been named the school’s new head coach. He is the program’s eighth all-time head coach since Bridgeport and Stevenson high schools consolidated to form North Jackson High School in 1988.
Hollis has been an assistant coach at North Jackson for the past seven seasons.
“We’re very excited about this opportunity,” Hollis said. “This North Jackson community — the Stevenson-Bridgeport-Hollywood area — is a special place. We love North Jackson. This is our home. I’m very excited for this opportunity. It's something we’ve worked hard for. I’ve been blessed to be a part of these last seven years and I’m excited to be able to continue to be part of the tradition of North Jackson football and help shape our young men.”
Hollis arrived at North Jackson prior to the start of the 2014 season, serving as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach under then head coach Mark Rose for five seasons. Hollis was offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and assistant head coach the past two seasons under Chandler Tygard, who left in January to become the head coach at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
“We are very excited to have Coach Hollis as our new head football coach,” said North Jackson principal Josh Harding. “First and foremost, he is a man of extremely high character. He checks all of the boxes for what North Jackson Football is about. He has a tremendous amount of coaching experience ranging from the college level to several different classifications in Alabama high school football. Coach Hollis is a true Chief and we are looking forward to his leadership of the student athletes at North Jackson.”
Hollis has been around football his entire life. His father, Joe Hollis, Sr., was a longtime college football coach, serving head coaching stints at Jacksonville State (1984) and Arkansas State (1997-2001) while also serving as Georgia’s offensive line coach from 1985-1991 and Ohio State’s offensive line coach in 1991 before serving as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator from 1992-96.
The younger Hollis’ coaching career began in the college ranks, as he served as a student assistant (2001-04) and then a graduate assistant at Auburn University (2005-07). Hollis, Jr. was the tight ends/offensive tackles coach at Georgia Southern University in 2008 before moving to the high school ranks as the offensive coordinator at Oak Mountain High School near Birmingham. Hollis was then the offensive coordinator at Harrelson County (Georgia) from 2010-12 before serving as Hueytown’s offensive coordinator in 2013, the season before arriving at North Jackson.
Hollis takes over a North Jackson team that finished 6-5 and made the Class 4A playoffs a season ago. Hollis expects his familiarity with the program to help for a smooth coaching transition. Hollis said the goals he has always had for the program as an assistant coach don’t change now that he is the head coach.
“We’re going to work really hard, and have fun doing it, and make sure we give our kids the best chance to succeed that they can have,” Hollis said. “We’ve got great kids. Tough, hard-nosed kids that love the game of football. We’re going to focus a lot on the fundamentals. We’re going to play great defense, play great special teams, and do what we need to do on offense to score more points than our opponents. We’re going to do things right and make sure (the program) is something the community is proud of.”
Hollis has coached at North Jackson when the offensive styles ranged from run-heavy to pass-oriented. He said the Chiefs’ offensive approach will be somewhere in the middle.
“We’re going to be multiple, and we’re going to take what the defense gives us,” Hollis said. “A lot of it depends on what your kids do best. But whatever we do, we’ve got to do it well, do things right and focus on doing the things you have to do to win football games.”