A new football experience... Mike Compton is the new head coach for the Patrick Henry Rebels.

GLADE SPRING, Va. — At least, he’s back in blue.

Mike Compton wore it at Richlands, West Virginia, Detroit, and New England and has returned to his old color as the new head coach at Patrick Henry High School.

After a two-year stint as an assistant with the Tazewell Bulldogs, he left Tazewell in mid-march to accept the job as Rebels head coach. Compton will try to pull Patrick Henry upward after a 4-6 mark last season.

He has 33 players on the roster, including seven seniors. As a first year head coach, however, he sees another very important group as a key to improvement.

“My assistant coaches are a great group of fellows,” he says. “I got to know four of them early on. Tim Burke, Brandon Blankenship, Andrew Hockett, and Jason Myers have been my ‘go-to guys’ since I got here.

“They have started early, stayed late, never complained. What a first class staff they have been. You can add Derek Bennett to that group.”

Compton, at 6-foot-7 and 307 pounds, looks much the same as when he was a consensus All-American for Don Nehlen’s West Virginia Mountaineers or Bill Belichick’s Patriots but as a coach he certainly sees things in a different light.

“Yeah, it (head coach) is a lot different than being a player or an assistant,” he laughs. “I know Bobby (Tazewell head coach Bobby Wyatt) will appreciate this, with all the little nuances I have really started to see in a different light since I have been put in charge of a program.”

Wyatt, whose Bulldogs scrimmaged Patrick Henry last week in a jamboree at Pulaski County, believes Compton will give a great effort.

“Mike is a fine person. I think he will work very hard on and off the field” Wyatt said. “He deserves to have a good year and we are all cheering for him.”

Compton says the new beginning starts a long way from Friday night football, which is where most fans see the coach.

“It’s just as hard, sometimes harder, in the offseason,” he observes.

“You’re working the weight room, for instance. It takes time and effort for the players, and I try to monitor progress, make suggestions for improvement.

“You’re kind of a recruiter, checking the school to see if you might find students who are not on the team who might come out and become productive players.”

It is not just the coaching, either, that keeps the two-time Super Bowl champion lineman busy these days.

“The NFL is one thing, but right now I mow grass, help line the field, change light bulbs, clean the dressing room and work on fixing water wheels,” laughs Compton. “I think the actual job description what a high school head football coach at any school really does is probably a lot different. It’s fun, though, I love it, and this is what I want to do.”

He is eager to improve his team and says players like senior linebacker Johnny Thompson and senior quarterback Ronnie Groves are among those he would like to see move up to the college level. Compton and his staff are hopeful of developing a junior varsity program, as well, and building a solid foundation for the future.

It is time consuming. He often leaves from his Tazewell County home at 7 a.m. and sometimes will not get home until 10 p.m.

It will be later on game nights. He and his wife, LeTonya, both teachers, know that quality work requires a lot of time.

Right now, Mike Compton is glad it is almost time to begin the regular season and grins when a fan yells, “Let’s pound Pound!” in reference to the team’s first game on August 22.

The big guy in the blue shirt hopes his team can do just that.

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