William Clay wanted to take the next step in his coaching career, and a job opening not too far from his hometown piqued his interest.

Clay is a native of Noxubee County, and Kemper County High School is less than an hour away from where he grew up. So when he heard the school was hiring a new football coach, Clay jumped at the opportunity.

“I know guys like Chris Jones and Joshua Pulphus who both used to coach there, and I felt it was a place I could help build back into its dominant state,” said Clay, referring to Kemper County’s 2016 state championship in football. “They’ve been doing great since then, but I want to sustain that and then elevate them to another level.”

Kemper County announced Clay’s hiring Thursday on its official Twitter handle, and Clay said he’s excited to get to work and represent Kemper County and the city of De Kalb.

“I want to help these guys and get them in the weight room and make them better student-athletes in the classroom as well,” Clay said.

Clay has been the offensive line coach at Laurel since 2013 and has also been the Golden Tornadoes’ offensive coordinator the past two years. While he enjoyed his tenure as an assistant coach, Clay said he felt it was time for a new challenge, and the idea of being a head coach made sense.

“I think it’s the leadership of the position and leading young men that attracted me to it, and also leading (assistant) coaches to become better versions of themselves,” Clay said.

The Wildcats’ offensive and defensive identity will depend on the players he has returning next fall, but Clay said he has a general idea of what he wants his team to look like.

“I want us to be a hard-nosed football team that plays hard beginning to end and never quits,” Clay said.

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