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Hilliker to lead Northside football program


Chris Hilliker led Paul W. Bryant to a playoff berth last year after seven years at Hale County. He's now headed to Northside. (Photo by Marion R Walding)


TUSCALOOSA | Chris Hilliker, who directed the Paul W. Bryant football team to a playoff appearance last season, will be the new head football coach at Northside High School.

"I'm excited for the opportunity," Hilliker said. "Mr. (David) Patrick has done a good job as principal at Northside, and I'm looking forward to it.

"I feel like there's untapped potential there. What I'm able to bring offensively and defensively, I feel it can be successful there. It's a good group of coaches. I've known those guys a long time."

The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education approved Hilliker's hiring Monday as a physical education teacher at Northside and at Walker Elementary. Hilliker said he hoped to visit the Northside campus later this week and meet prospective players. Patrick said the Northside football team has play dates scheduled in July. He added that he expects Hilliker to be on the job of a "majority" of the summer workouts.

Patrick said Hilliker "stood out" among the five candidates interviewed by the Northside athletic committee.

"We feel very fortunate that Coach Hilliker wanted to come to Northside," Patrick said. "He has done a very good job throughout his career, not just in the football aspect of it but in teaching young men and in building character. He's been very active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has the qualities and leadership we're looking for at Northside.

"I've followed his career through the years, and I've known him a long time, ever since he was a student at Hillcrest. He showed lot of leadership as a player, and that's carried over into his coaching. He has a very solid character, and he knows football very well.

He also knows the importance of teaching young people. He definitely is a teacher, and it's not just in football."

Tommy Honeycutt, Northside's longtime softball coach, served as the Rams' football coach last season on what Patrick said was an interim basis. Honeycutt, who had been an assistant coach for the football team, took over the program in August following the resignation of head coach John Montgomery, who left to become an assistant principal at Hoover.

The Rams went 1-9, posting a 41-20 victory over Marengo in a nonregion game on Oct. 14. Northside was 0-6 against Class 3A, Region 4 opponents Aliceville, Gordo, Greensboro, Hale County, Montevallo and Sipsey Valley.

Hilliker's 2011 team went 5-2 against Region 3 opponents and qualified for the Class 5A playoffs. The season ended with a 49-22 first-round loss at Eufaula.

In the regular season, the Stampede won its last three region games against Chilton County (28-20), Central of Tuscaloosa (19-13) and Wilcox Central (46-12). Paul W. Bryant defeated Selma (34-33) and Brookwood (33-0) in region games and lost to Greenville (27-26) and Demopolis (42-20).

The 6-5 record gave the Stampede back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the school opened in 2003. Bobby Moore's 2010 team went 6-5 and qualified for the playoffs. Hilliker got the job after Moore left to become the head coach at Baldwin County in Bay Minette.

"There was a lot of potential there at Bryant," Hilliker said. "We had a great group of kids who worked extremely hard for us. I was really impressed with their work ethic. I was glad to have the opportunity there, but I feel like Northside is where I need to be right now."

Hilliker had a 40-35 in seven seasons as Hale County's head coach. His 2010 and 2009 teams each went 8-3 and qualified for the playoffs. His directed the Wildcats to four winning seasons and five playoff appearances.

Hilliker graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1988 and was a punter for University of West Alabama football team. He was an assistant coach at Hillcrest for eight seasons.

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.